Argosy Book Store in the news

Do you remember my recent blog entry about the damage that Hurricane Sandy caused to my family’s bookstore? Well, the store was written up today in The New York Times. Here’s the article:

Did you see the quote in the second paragraph from Naomi Hample? That’s my mother — and that was just the beginning of her day as a media sensation. In the late afternoon, she was interviewed by CBS News. Check it out:

The photo above was taken in her autograph department on the sixth floor, and as you can see, it’s a mess. Unfortunately, things looked even worse one floor below in the first editions room. Here’s my aunt Judy (my mother’s sister) holding a $3,000 Ernest Hemingway first edition . . .

. . . which had been badly damaged in the storm.

Meanwhile, this was the view to my left:

The two construction workers were taking a short break during the interview. See all those wood planks on the floor? That used to be a bookshelf. In the photo above, the entire wall on the left side had shelves from floor to ceiling, packed with first editions. Many of those books were destroyed, many more were damaged, and some managed to survive unscathed. The undamaged books are now boxed up until the new shelves are built.

The CBS crew (led by a correspondent named Dave Carlin) got a shot of the signed/damaged Thomas Jefferson documents:

We’re storing them in a freezer until all the insurance people come to take a look and say that it’s okay to send them to a restorer.

CBS also interviewed my aunt Adina in the “arcade” area, just outside the front door:

The segment is going to air tonight (November 16th) in New York City at 11pm on CBS Channel 2. It’s also going to air at 9pm (on Long Island, I think) on WLNY 10/55, so be on the lookout.

But wait! There’s even more media stuff!

The Argosy was mentioned several times in a recent/feature article about Sally Field in New York Magazine. I don’t have a hard copy — it’s the November 19, 2012 issue — but here’s a link to the article. The writer mistakenly claimed that none of us recognized Field, implying that we were . . . I don’t know, dumb. On the contrary, we were all excited to see her walk into the store; we simply didn’t kiss her ass or fawn all over her.

Writers. They really suck.

A disappointingly short version of the segment just aired on CBS Channel 2 . . . and I just received the following email from Dave Carlin:

“The much longer version of the story (with all three owners) was on tv1055 at 9pm and will appear again on the CBS2 morning show Saturday 6-7am and 9 to 10am. The longer version will also be on Look for it. It’s much more detailed.”

Excellent! (Thanks, Dave. And CBS. We very much appreciate the coverage.)


  1. Zack Hample

    Oh Jeezus, not again. It has been determined (by numerous readers of this blog) that the first comment is worthless when it doesn’t add anything of value or pertain directly to the entry.

  2. Nick Badders

    Ok… So I was reading some random entries from this blog from 2009. I stumbled upon a comment where Leigh Barratt was talking about emailing teams requesting Fan Packs and other giveaways. Well I sent emails to every MLB, AAA, AA, and High-A team. Today, I got two envelopes in the mail. The first one was from the Indians. Inside, there were 4 pocket schedules, 3 coloring pages and a word-search… From the White Sox, I received a sticker, 2 pocket schedules, a two-foot by 3-foot poster giveaway that commemorated Phillip Humber’s perfect game, and a 2012 (April 2012-2013) Wall calendar that has their 2012 schedule, promotions, and from November-March counts down the days until opening day. Pretty awesome!

  3. Ray Burton

    Hi Zack , very distressing to read about so much damage to so many irreplaceable items at Argosy. Hopefully , some may be restored , but it seems that some of the more fragile items may be lost forever. Mother Nature definitely does not respect history. Looks like you have your work ahead of you this winter. We were in New York over Xmas and New Year last year and were amazed to see the damage to some of the places we had visited. On a lighter note , have you spoken to your charity director about my method of donation ? What did you think about the awards this year ( MVP , Cy Young etc ) ? Counting down to Opening Day 2013 and dreading the impending transfer possibilities . Keep on swinging . Regards Ray.

  4. Zack Hample

    I forgive you. :-)

    Very cool!

    Yeah, we’ve definitely lost a lot of stuff forever, but thankfully we’ll get money for it from the insurance company. In many cases, though, we’d actually rather have the items than the money. That might sound crazy, but it’s more satisfying/impressive to HAVE a bunch of fascinating and historical things that we can show and offer to our customers, you know? As for your donation, can’t you just use a credit card on the website? And type in the amount that you want to give? Wouldn’t you be charged in American dollars (which is the goal)? As for the awards, I really have no problem with any of the recipients. Arguments can be made for lots of people who didn’t win, but that’s always how it goes. I still don’t understand how “WAR” works, so choosing Miggy over Trout for the MVP seems right to me. Yeah, the Angels won more games, but the Tigers reached the playoffs, and c’mon, Triple Crown!!! I like Dickey for the Cy Young. Harper for the Rookie of the Year? Sure, why not, but that could’ve gone to someone else. What do you think?


    So, how does that work exactly? Did you guys call the NY Times and CBS to come out and please do a story? Or, did some random NY Times reporter just pop in to your store and stumble onto the story? It’s like free advertising care of the news media, huh?

  6. Nick

    So, who asked for Fields’ autograph? Is that a no-no in the bookstore? Or, say a famous author just happens in…will you have him/her sign a few of their books to sell in the store?

  7. Zack Hample

    We didn’t call the Times. Somehow they found out about us. Some customer who saw the damage probably told a friend who told a friend, etc. It seems that the only way to accomplish *anything* in New York City is to know people.

    It’s not an official no-no, but it’s not cool. We didn’t even know about the autograph request until we read about it in the article, but hey, it seems like Field was happy to oblige. You may recall that when Neil deGrasse Tyson wandered into the bookstore earlier this year, I ended up having a 20-minute conversation with him and asking for a photo, but only because HE was so cool and kept talking to ME. I had merely told him that I was a fan of his work, and before I even said that, I checked with my family to see if it was okay. Then, once we got into talking, he was the one who kept the conversation going. Bill Clinton comes in from time to time (with his secret service bodyguards), and yes, it’s always a big deal, even to us, but we’ve gotten to know him, and he usually shakes everyone’s hands and poses for a few photos, but we never ask him for autographs. One time, a customer asked him to sign something, and my family was horrified, but hey, you can’t control what the public does, and c’mon, if you’re the PRESIDENT (or even Sally Field), you can’t blame people for wanting to get close to you.

  8. Nick

    Yeah, I’ve met President Clinton and he’s a great guy. Do people like him let you know in advance that he’s coming, or does anyone ever ask you to shut the store down so that they can shop in peace?

  9. Ray Burton

    Zach, totally agree with you about the monetary versus historical value of the books and documents. I have an extensive library of natural and general history books and no amount of money could replace them if they were lost or damaged. On the baseball front , I was very pleased to see David Price win the Cy Young. Saw him pitch from the Diamond Club seats behind home at theTrop against the Yankees and he was terrific. Shame that Kyle Farnsworth lost it with his usual awful 2012 outing. Buster Posey had an amazing season both as a player and leader. Miguel Cabrera had a great batting year and Mike Trout is an outstanding all-round baseballer at the plate and in the field. Will follow your advice with my pledge for PIFB and do it via card. No spiders lately but caught a 6 foot Diamond Python ( non venomous ) in the backyard last night that was very nice. C’mon Zack , you love snakes don’t you. Keep on swinging and good luck in restoring those damaged items. By the way , does anyone have any news or heard any rumours about opening day in Australia 2014

  10. Ben Weil

    I am again, truly horrified hearing, seeing and reading about the items that were damaged, and had to be discarded. It’s devastating. I’d imagine there would still have to be SOME value to autographed books or first editions. I mean, if the Thomas Jefferson documents can’t be restored, regardless of the condition, they are still signed by him, and original documents. They should STILL be worth thousands. I can’t get over this, I just remember how amazing some of the books and autographed items were in the store, and to know that they are simply destroyed…it’s a tough pill to swallow. I feel so bad, and am so sorry for your family.

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