Biermaier’s Books enters final chapter

The used bookstore has been a staple in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood. Yet after 41 years, Bill Biermaier said it’s time to retire

Owner Bill Biermaier looks through books Wednesday in the basement of Biermaier. Biermaier is retiring after running his business for over forty years and still has roughly 50,000 books left to sell.

Erin Westover

Owner Bill Biermaier looks through books Wednesday in the basement of Biermaier. Biermaier is retiring after running his business for over forty years and still has roughly 50,000 books left to sell.

Jennifer Bissell

Een Boek.
Bir Kitap.
Um Livro.
As its window signs suggest in more than 50 different languages, BiermaierâÄôs Books will be closing Monday with its biggest discount yet âÄî a buck a book.
Known for its creaky floorboards and books stacked to the ceiling, the used bookstore has been a staple in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood. Yet after 41 years, Bill Biermaier said itâÄôs time to retire.
The bookstore will be the third to close near campus in the past few years, with DinkytownâÄôs most recent closure of Cummings Books in December.
Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association Director Melissa Bean said at one time the areaâÄôs bookstores were a tourist attraction for booklovers who went from âÄúone to one to one.âÄù
Now DinkytownâÄôs Book House is the only used bookstore in the area.
âÄúItâÄôs terrible when we lose any individualâÄôs small business in the neighborhood,âÄù Bean said of Biermaier, who lives in the area. âÄúItâÄôs nice to have a neighbor who owns a business.âÄù
In November, when Biermaier announced the closing, he estimated he had a stock of 75,000 to 100,000 books. After his going-out-of-business sales since then, he believes heâÄôs down to 50,000 books.
After MondayâÄôs closing, Biermaier will donate leftover books to different organizations and his hometownâÄôs high school library.
Biermaier said heâÄôs noticed that students donâÄôt seem to be reading, or at least buying, books anymore with the popularity of the Internet. Originally he said students made up half of his clientele, but now the proportion has slipped to less than 20 percent.
âÄúIt wasnâÄôt as enjoyable [to run the store] with less people to visit with,âÄù he said. âÄúIâÄôve enjoyed getting to know people. Hearing what their grand plans are for the future.âÄù
Despite the drop in traffic, Biermaier said he continued to buy books and paperback fiction for the students in particular since he knew they enjoyed them âÄî or at least used to.
âÄúI continued to buy them, thinking students would come back,âÄù Biermaier said. âÄúBut they didnâÄôt.âÄù
Biermaier said he has also kept files for his customers âÄî he searched through networks of book dealers or bookseller magazines for books they wanted. But eventually the Internet antiquated the process and replaced the book dealer networks.
Admitting the Internet has routed 50 percent of her traffic out of the store, Book House owner Kristen Eide-Tollefson said she was glad to know Biermaier is closing by choice and wasnâÄôt having financial problems.
âÄúIt is disturbing to have so many stores closing, but it is also understandable,âÄù Eide-Tollefson said. âÄúIn BiermaierâÄôs case, we are really happy for him that he is retiring successful after 40 years.âÄù
Biermaier said the new building owner will be renovating the apartments currently above the store but hasnâÄôt decided what to do with the street-level space.
âÄúItâÄôs a wonderful store,âÄù Eide-Tollefson added. âÄúHeâÄôs contributed so much to the book culture. WeâÄôre really grateful for that.âÄù