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Rodney’s Bookstore Turns a New Page in Harvard Square

Rodney’s Bookstore opened in Harvard Square at 23 Church St. on Sept. 1.
Rodney’s Bookstore opened in Harvard Square at 23 Church St. on Sept. 1. By Tracy Jiang
By Caroline K. Hsu and Sidney K. Lee, Crimson Staff Writers

Nearly three years after closing in Central Square in 2020, Rodney’s Bookstore has found its new home in Harvard Square.

Located on 23 Church St., Rodney’s replaces Raven Used Books as the only used bookstore in Harvard Square.

After shuttering the Central Square location, Shaw Taylor, owner of Rodney’s Bookstore, spent the last few years collecting “tens of thousands” of books before settling on Harvard Square as the bookstore’s next home.

Named after Taylor’s dog, Rodney’s Bookstore first opened in Cape Cod in 1996 before branching out to Central Square — and briefly to Brookline. Now, the Harvard Square storefront remains the sole location, and the focus is “to keep fresh books in the store,” according to Taylor.

“I just have to be good about replacing what sells, so there’s always new things to look at,” Taylor added.

The store opened on Sept. 1 and is still in “its early stages,” according to Ethan Gaffney, an employee of the bookstore and Taylor’s nephew.

“It just needs to be a little more organized,” Gaffney added.

While the Central Square branch was larger and allowed for more variety of books to be displayed, Gaffney said “the foot traffic is a lot better” in the new location.

“Everyone in the community has really welcomed us with open arms,” Gaffney added. “We just hope we’re here for a long time.”

Taylor said he hopes that Rodney’s Bookstore will encourage more people to frequent used bookstores.

“There used to be a lot more used bookstores, and now there’s not as many — and so just by being out there kind of helps out,” Taylor added.

The bookstore features discounted new and used books covering a vast range of genres from classics and philosophy to plays and astronomy. There is also a “Bargain Books” cart devoted to selling books for $0.94, coming out to around $1 with tax.

“That’s amazing — 94 cent books. I think everybody should always, always have access to books,” said Maria Membreno, a student at Emerson College visiting the bookstore for the first time.

Luke A. Khitab, a local resident, mentioned that he and his wife are “building up a classics shelf” and that he was “very impressed with the collection and the different editions they have.”

“This is probably the best bookstore that we’ve been to in Boston,” Khitab said. “And we’ve been to a lot of them.”

—Staff writer Caroline K. Hsu can be reached at caroline.hsu@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @CarolineHsu_.

—Staff writer Sidney K. Lee can be reached at sidney.lee@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @sidneyklee.

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