Cody’s Books

A glorious unravelling

In: Logos

Cody’s Books, in Berkeley, California, had its roots during the mid-1950s in the left-wing sympathies of its founders, the husband–wife team of Fred and Patricia Cody. Serving the University of California nearby, the much admired bookstore became a hangout and haven for intellectually curious students and faculty. In the social protest movements of the 1960s, the store functioned as a refuge from street violence as students and police clashed outside. When long-term employee Andy Ross bought the shop upon the Codys’ retirement, it was a thriving business but soon ran into challenges from encroaching chain stores and the emergence of online shopping. Ross responded variously: sometimes with ambitious, effective bookselling tactics, sometimes with ineffective resentment towards consumers who had abandoned the store. Attempts to survive through risky refinancing and the infusion of foreign investment money to support expansion into San Francisco all backfired. The last Cody’s branch closed ignominiously in 2008.

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  • McLuhan M. and Fiore Q. 1996. The Medium Is the Massage: An inventory of effects (Berkeley: Gingko Press)

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