Local bookworms will have to say farewell to Browser’s Bookstore—the only bookstore in downtown Corvallis, Ore. to mainly offer used books—this February. However, they can find solace in the fact that the Albany, Ore. location is staying open under new ownership.
Scott Givens, Browser’s Bookstore owner and founder, became a bookseller 21 years ago because he always enjoyed visiting bookstores and hunting for books. Givens expects Browser’s in Corvallis to close toward the end of February.
About three months ago, Givens announced the closure to employees before telling the public. At that time, Givens was planning on closing both the Albany and Corvallis locations. When Abe Richmond, an employee at the Albany location, heard the news, he began searching for a new job in preparation for the closure.
According to Richmond, Givens hesitated over shutting both Browser’s locations down, and one morning, Givens said to him, “Well, you could take it over.”
“Sure,” Richmond jokingly answered.
This interaction launched a serious discussion on how this transfer could feasibly work. About four months from now, “Volume 3” of Browser’s Bookstore in Albany will open, under Richmond—the Corvallis and Albany locations under Givens’ ownership are Volume 1 and Volume 2, respectively.
Richmond graduated from Oregon State University in March 2021 with a degree in psychology as a first-generation college student. His working career started at Browser’s Bookstore in Albany six years ago, when he worked as a part-time employee at the store while in high school.
Richmond’s grandfather was an entrepreneur and Richmond remembers him saying that owning a business is “The greatest 14-hour day you could have.”
Givens said Browser’s is not actively purchasing books from the community for at least a few months while the Corvallis branch closes and the Albany branch transitions to Richmond’s ownership. Richmond is waiting to hire employees and will start buying books for the Albany location in April.
“Hopefully, some people will continue to support Browser’s by showing up at the Albany store once in a while,” Givens said. “[It’s the] same vibe, different books.”
Although Givens said Corvallis has been great for Browser’s in both buying and selling books, he said he is shutting down the Corvallis Browser’s locationdue to personal reasons.
In the future, Givens said Browser’s might return to Corvallis with a new owner, but for now, Browser’s will remain in Albany for financial reasons. Givens himself is staying in the area, and will continue selling rare books and big collections.
Kailey Legier, Browser Bookstore’s patron and student at OSU and Linn- Benton Community College, started going to the Browser’s Albany location in 2018, but had already been going to the Corvallis branch before then.
Legier said Browser’s customer service distinguishes them from other bookstores and helps particularly with the quantity of books available, which can be overwhelming.
“At Browser’s, you feel like the staff is going out of their way to help you parse through everything in there and find something,” Legier said.
One of Legier’s favorite things about Browser’s is there is always something new that she did not know she needed or wanted.
Executive Director of the Downtown Corvallis Association Jennifer Moreland said Browser’s Bookstore is not a member of the DCA. However, the DCA is a member of the organization Oregon Main Street. Moreland said Oregon Main Street teaches that in order to have a healthy downtown, a city needs at least one bookstore.
“[Browser’s Bookstore] is a really good location to go sit and hang out, and you can listen as they are interacting with different customers searching for different things, and as people bring books to buy and sell,” Moreland said. “The Downtown Corvallis Association is incredibly sad to see any business in downtown close.”
With 200,000 books currently on shelves between the two stores, Givens is hoping to sell all of the Corvallis location’s books before closing.
“If every person in Corvallis just bought one book here, the store would be almost empty,” Givens said. “Every OSU student needs to come and buy three books, and then we’ll be empty.”
As Browser’s Bookstore enters a new era, Givens hopes Corvallis residents remember the enjoyment of actual browsing.
“There is an enjoyment in spending half an hour in the bookstore and finding even just one book,” Givens said.
Richmond plans to maintain Browser’s niche with a little more variety regarding newer books, and welcome a wider audience as well as the current regulars that come to Browser’s. One of Richmond’s main goals with Browser’s is to “make [literature] lit.”