Those who understand New York’s Strand Book Store can likely recall its slogans: “1 8 miles of books.” It’s right there on the store’s ubiquitous red oval logo, find citywide on tote bags carried by well-read locals and tourists alike.
But today, the 90 -year-old Manhattan institution selling new and used volumes boasts closer to 23 miles of the printed term.( It’s measured, by the way, by book spines, exactly how they sit on the shelf .)
“I believe 18 miles has such a nice ring to it, ” senior decorator Topher MacDonald said, recollecting an old store awning that originally read “8 miles of books.” Eventually, “somebody tacked a 1 on top of it because[ the store] had get too big, ” he added.
However long the Strand’s stock is, the phrase is beautifully evocative. For a book lover catching sight of the slogan on a tote ambling around Central Park, it conjures images of never-ending stacks, more narratives and curious plots than can be devoured in a lifetime.
Indeed, it’s the humble canvas tote, first sold at the Strand in the 1980 s, that allows a bibliophile on-the-go to subtly transmit that image — and an image of themselves, too.
Current store co-owner Nancy Bass Wyden — the granddaughter of store founder Ben Bass — told HuffPost that the first iteration of the Strand tote was designed by a former longtime floor manager named Richard Devereaux. It had simple block letters, spelling out the store’s name, address and phone number on canvas.
That design persisted until the ’9 0s, when the bookstore’s now-famous red oval logo replaced it. The newer design, attributed to another floor manager’s girlfriend at the time, features the bookstore’s name in Strand Gothic( the store’s own typeface ).
The initial tote was relatively small; it held only two or three books at a time. But it grew, and the designs became more varied, as the Strand began ramping up its merchandise section around 2012.
“My daddy[ Fred Bass] kind of resisted for many years. You know,’ What are you doing to this place ?! We should just have serious books! ’” Bass Wyden told. He went around to the idea, she told, because it pleased customers.
“That was, and is, the most important thing to him, ” she said.