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Two Book Stores

Circling the Square


AS CAMBRIDGE relentlessly develops into an exclusively upper-middle-class area, new stores, boutiques, and restaurants appear. One of the more fortunate by-products of this transformation is the fact that two new book stores, different from others in the Square, have opened during the past few months. One replaces the old IGA grocery store, and the other, Club 47.

Passim is an intimate little place, hidden in the alley between the Coop and the Coop Bookstore. A coffee shop and book store combined, it is run by a French lady, Mrs. Renée Juda, who has wanted to start such a café for a long time. She specializes in contemporary and modern Romance language paperbacks, with a small German section. "I could not have a book store without Brecht," Mrs. Juda says.

Two Harvard professors helped to choose the Spanish section, and a student compiled the Italian books, giving the collection a connoisseur's touch. Italian books, in particular, are scarce in the Harvard area. Not even Shoenhof's has a good collection.

On some moveable bookshelves are the objects which make the bookstore-coffee shop the most novel in Cambridge. They are magazines, in almost every Romance language and covering a wide variety of topics: Paris Match is there, so is L'Oeil, U.S. News and the Atlantic Monthly, and L'Arte de Modelle, the best Italian art magazine. In the European fashion, where newspapers are often available for the customer, these magazines are there to be read while having coffee or lunch.

The book store is adaptable in a unique and exciting way. Bare brick and untouched wood blend in well with bright colors. Passim is even more than a book store or a coffee shop, exhibiting works by young artists as well, the latest being only 17 years old. The bookshelves can be pushed aside because Mrs. Juda hopes to have some evening activities, such as theater or poetry readings, once the store is more established.

Reading International could hardly be more different in its conception and purpose. Standing on the corner of Church and Brattle, it has huge showcase windows that are always plastered with magazines and newspapers open to groovy articles (like on the strike in 4 languages)

Some of the special areas within the bookstore are a children's section, which has Beatrix Potter and other little books in a variety of languages, a comic book section, and a "Little Magazine" wall of esoteric magazines. One wall is devoted to foreign language periodicals and books. The books are a strange breed, especially if you want to read James Bond in Italian or Perry Mason in German.

The main part of the store is the paperback area with an exceptional fiction section. The selection looks like the natural, obvious one for a student community, but--and this is the book store manager's big headache--there are at present "67,000 paperbacks in print," and the next book listing them all will probably double in size. In the limited space of one book store, someone has to do a lot of choosing and picking. Reading International has done a good job.

Both the new stores have good selections and should prosper. Passim is a novel, relaxing place to browse, and Reading International is a more comprehensive book store which also offers a newsstand collection of periodicals. AILEEN JACOBSON

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