Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman
Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.
Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.
Chris loves books.
Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
left April 1988 - riverrun
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
June 1994 - Metropolitan Book Fair
Mary Stephens, now Mary Hayes, worked at riverrun. She and Chris Stephens made a good team. Mary's grandmother, Mary Scioscia, came down to riverrun on Tuesdays. She sat at the desk across the street, at the original riverrun, and entertained friends and fans. On Tuesdays the two Marys ate lunch together in that bookstore. They laughed and chatted and talked books.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Helen Barolini moved from Italy to Dobbs Ferry NY in 1973, shortly after her husband died. "Here I was," says Helen, "a recent widow with three children. I got a job as a librarian at Masters School. I was able to live on campus and my daughter could go to school there. Had I done the right thing though? I didn't know.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
These are four fine book dealers:
Peter Howard, Serendipity Books - Berkley CA
Frank Scioscia, riverrun books - Hastings on Hudson NY
Chris Stephens, Christopher P. Stephens Bookseller - Hastings on Hudson NY
Oscar Graham, Detering Book Gallery - Houston TX.
These men talked books, compared stories and discussed points. They didn't really want to be interrupted for a snap shot, but indulged me.
Thanks again gentlemen, twenty years later.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Michael had some Bookman characteristics like his grandfather and father. He considered setting up a bookstore, riverrun west, in California but other fascinating interests took up that time and creative energy: playwriting, acting, fatherhood, learning things.
Michael gets a big kick out of Collage Night. Every Wednesday night collage enthusiasts gather at his place and cut and paste. They can hear and smell the surf nearby but they scarcely notice. Each is completely engaged in his or her work. They're meticulous. The collages are art. In fact, the Collage Night gang has been invited to exhibit their work at the Dead Cow Art Gallery in Santa Cruz next month.
Michael has branched out from flat collages to collage pop-up books. They are splendid creations, but see? Books keep leaking into every aspect of his life. He moved 3000 miles away but he didn't get away from riverrun.
See collages by Michael (Blunktious) and other collage artists at: http://collagenight.com/index.php
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Stefan Kanfer, pillar of riverrun, kept me entertained with good conversation on the train into the city today.
Shortly after he was married to May, they saw Holiday with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. The movie affected Steve.
Grant pushed away the handsome job offer tendered by the rich plutocrat and his daughter (the wrong one). "No," said Grant. "I'm not going to work right now. I'll take a year off and have a holiday. I want to take my retirement now, while I'm young and I can really enjoy it."
This sounded good to Steve. He and May quit work. They took a year off, had a holiday, and took their retirement when they were both very young and could really enjoy it. They found a great place to live in London and then after awhile went on to Paris.
"I got sick in Paris," said Steve. "Then we traveled to Switzerland and I recovered. We went on to Italy and lived in Florence. Back then, before the floods, masterpieces were out in public places. There were magnificent statues. You could touch them. No one did though. No graffiti. It was amazing to see all that art out in the open. We loved Florence."
They went on to Scandinavia where they sipped cherry herring and relished retirement. Steve wrote a play.
When the retirement was over they returned to New York. They had a couple of children, Lili and Ethan. Steve free-lanced. "It was uncertain work," he said. "One week you got $2000 - a lot of money back then - the next week nothing. Then the job at Time opened up and the rest is history."
A pretty glorious history too. Steve told about lunching with Sophia Loren or Paul Newman or Marcello Mastroianni. "It was always something interesting. Movie actors and politicians returned your calls back then. The Times had clout. Now it's different. The internet is killing the newspapers."
Steve and I talked about happy marriages.
We agreed that "call waiting" and "instant messaging" were too jarring to be worth it.
Steve bragged about his grown children. I guess we both did.
He related stories from his recent book tours. He discussed articles he was writing and his ideas for coming books.
I was sorry when the train pulled into Grand Central Terminal and the conversation was over. Steve was on his way to a writing discussion panel at the New School for Social Research. He was the biography expert.
Steve cocked his trademark hat and grinned. If Steve and Cary are typical, one thing about having your retirement young, when you can really enjoy it, is that the holiday spirit pervades the whole rest of your life. Steve went jauntily off to work.
Stefan Kanfer's books: Film 69/70, A Journal of the Plague Years, The Eighth Sin, The International Garage Sale, Fear Itself, A Summer World, The Last Empire, Serious Business, Groucho, Ball of Fire, Stardust Lost, The Voodoo That They do So Well, Somebody
Stefan Kanfer at City Journal:
Stefan Kanfer at Political Mavens:
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
All of the people involved with the press were creative artists. None was a business major. Higgins kept the press afloat with his own personal money but eventually the Something Else Press had to close down operations.
The press left an indelible mark on the experimental literay scene.
a wikipedia entry lists publications
Saturday, March 14, 2009
In the 1990s, riverrun had a fabulous storage area. It was the north half of the fourth floor in an old brewery down by the Hudson River. There’s a duck pond in front of the building and trees all around. There were a lot of books and little magazines in that storage warehouse.
One day, back in the retail store, a new walk-in customer asked about little magazines. The customer asked one of the employees.
Chris Stephens, an erudite bookman long on knowledge but short on bedside manner, wisely leaves dealing with customers to the friendlier employees. This particular friendly employee didn't know little magazines. “Nooo,” said the employee somewhat vaguely. “No. I don't think we carry anything like that here. Sorry.”
Chris came up out of the back and introduced himself to the customer, Dominique Boer. Dom and Chris hit it off instantly. They talked Paris Review, Hudson Review, Poetry magazine, Partisan Review, Tri-Quarterly. They discussed older little magazine like Yale Review and Philadelphia Literary, and European little magazines. They went to the warehouse and opened boxes and talked books. It was a very happy time. A very happy friendship developed out of that first meeting over little magazines.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Burt Britton worked at the Strand Bookstore for many years. In the 1970s he took a partnership position managing a new bookstore, Books & Company. The owner, Jeannette Watson, wanted a literary beacon and she had the funds to stock it. She asked Britton to buy masterpieces.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Now Greg is "Mr. Stephens". He teaches math at Hastings High School - the same place where he took math when he was a student there. Back then Gregory Stephens spent time at riverrun bookstore. Sometimes he worked there. Sometimes he hung out, reading or talking with his grandfather, Frank Scioscia.
Frank was delighted. Someone once asked Frank why he'd opened riverrun. He answered that he wanted the children who lived in Hastings to grow up in a town that had a bookstore like his. It wasn't really a full answer but it was a good one. And no doubt it was part of the fuller reason.
Gregory always liked books. He's still a big reader. He married a big reader and they have two big-reader daughters who live across the street from the high school and a few blocks from riverrun.
When Frank Scioscia retired from Harper Collins, his responsibilites were divided into 4 new jobs. At about the time of this photo Gregory took one of them. He didn't love the job. Probably Greg would have enjoyed it a lot more if either 1.) his grandfather was still working there too, or 2.) he'd been able to have all four parts. Even though that would have been 4 times the work, it would have also been 4 times the pleasure.
Greg gets plenty of pleasure in his current job teaching. He still drops into riverrun occasionally. He doesn't spend as much time there as he did in his youth, but several times a week he does play raquetball with the present proprietor.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Frank Scioscia opened the store on Washington Avenue in 1978. He ran it until he died in 1993. After a transition period, Frank's son-in-law, Christopher Stephens took over early in 1994.
Monday, March 2, 2009
A call comes in. Maybe it sounds promising. The truth is, you can always convince yourself it's promising. In the mornings before the store opens, Chris follows up on those phone calls. He goes to homes with shelves full of books. It's a treasure hunt. Occasionally he finds marvelous books of great value. Often he finds good solid books that he'd like to have in the store.
There's another kind of treasure too. Book collections reflect the collector's interests. That ignites Chris' interest. He loves looking over the books, even when they are subsequent printings and commonly available. Sometimes the person who collected and read the books is still alive and eager to talk about books. Even if a relative or friend is arranging the sale, the reader/collector is a strong prescence in the collection. Those people are treasures too.
At 11:00, every single day, riverrun bookshop opens its doors. Before 11 though, Chris has usually gone treasure hunting and bought books. He's already done the part that's absolutely the most fun.