Iconic 45-year-old Ann Arbor bookstore launches GoFundMe to weather coronavirus pandemic

West Side Book Shop turns to crowdfunding to stay afloat

West Side Book Shop at 113 W. Liberty St. in downtown Ann Arbor. (Destination Ann Arbor)

ANN ARBOR – One of downtown Ann Arbor’s longest-running businesses is turning to the local community for support while its doors -- behind which lies an impressive collection of used and rare books -- remain closed.

In 1975, Jay Platt opened West Side Book Shop on W. Liberty St. seven years after graduating from the University of Michigan.

A member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, Platt is nationally recognized for his expertise in the field. His longtime associate, Doug Price, sells fine photography in the back of the shop.

Platt launched the “HELP WEST SIDE BOOKS SURVIVE” GoFundMe campaign on April 28 with the goal of raising $75,000. To date, it has raised $14,266.

“While we have travelled to book fairs far and wide, the heart of our business, our raison d’etre, has always been the open shop, in downtown Ann Arbor,” wrote Platt on the crowdfunding site. “But now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, our doors are closed, with no clear opening date in sight. We urgently ask for your support at this time so that we may continue to serve you and the community.”

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Additionally, Platt has had to cancel this year’s Ann Arbor Book Fair -- an event he has organized for more than 25 years that benefits University of Michigan’s Clements Library. He said the loss of sales from the store’s closure and the cancellation of book fairs is threatening the business’ ability to pay its expenses.

“We are vintage, like many of our books,” wrote Platt. “So we are challenged in this endeavor. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many small businesses to close their doors. Like so many, we have applied for the PPP grant but have no idea if and when that relatively small amount might come our way. We continue to pay our employees and expenses as best we can, trusting that the store will re-open, and be stronger.”

To make a donation, click here.

West Side Book Shop is at 113 W. Liberty Street Ann Arbor.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.