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, January 5, 2010

John Socia - Old York Book Store

unknown photographer

John Socia opened the Old York Book Store in New Brunswick New Jersey after he’d retired from Sears. It was 1968. John was 65. He loved that bookstore just as he’d loved books all his life. Old York meant infinitely more to him than Sears and Roebuck did but he’d grown up in the depression and was grateful for steady work.
“I could never have quit a paying job,” he said. He laughed ruefully about the mark the depression made on him. He was 16 in 1929 when the stock market crashed and the economy quaked. There were younger mouths to feed. He left home.
In later years John recognized an early photograph of himself in a book about the depression. He was in a field picking peas with others who also rode the rails around the country looking for work.
John Socia was the second of 12 children. His parents were Italian immigrants. John was born with clubfeet. In a way, this turned out to be a good thing. It meant that he and his father made many trips to doctors and hospitals in New York and in Philadelphia. The examinations and operations were grueling but there were always trips to the big-city bookstores afterwards. The club-footed kid and the immigrant father spent many happy hours together in bookstores.
Many years later when his feet were fixed and his father was long gone, John Socia finally opened his own bookstore. Old York was near Rutgers University. It drew readers and collectors and dealers from a much wider circle. All sorts of people liked coming into his shop to discuss James Joyce or political philosophy or anything. John Socia of Old York Bookstore certainly did know his books. And he certainly was a fine man.
One time Socia told me he’d worried about his younger brother, Frankie. “He’s so innocent,” John said. “Unworldly, like an angel. He’s so good that he can’t imagine anyone being bad. ” Actually that is how I think of John himself. He was so trustworthy himself that it didn’t occur to him to be wary of whom he trusted.
Old York was open for 15 years. During that time Socia bought and sold many books. During that time he made many friends and admirers.
Socia is mentioned in two, of the many fascinating articles by Stuart Mitchner - first paragraph
An article about used bookstores and book dealers. Socia is described in the 3rd paragraph labeled “Ideal Book Dealers”.

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