Girl-Watching at the Paperback Bookstore


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September 7, 1961, Vol. VI, No. 46

The Revolving Reader

By John Wilcock

Apart from their subsidiary function as places to buy books, the four branches in the Village of the Paperbook Gallery have proved invaluable centers for girl-watching, time-wasting, and other aesthetic and philosophical pursuits. When, however, Martin Geisler, 35, ventures uptown with his first branch later this month, there’ll be a new refinement to amuse the less sophisticated Time Square trade — revolving window displays.

Site of the new branch is the old Hanson’s Drugstore at Seventh Avenue and 51st Street, whose windows will house a 12-foot-high rack containing almost 2000 books. The customer who presses a button to bring a row of books down to his level will unwittingly change the whole window display.

There’s no particular significance to this little gimmick, but it does give some idea of how Geisler says on the ball. He opened his first store in Sheridan Square three years ago, followed up with three other Village stores, franchised others in Nantucket, Santa Fe, and Wilmington, wrote a basic guide on “How to Set Up and Operate a Paperback Bookshop” which has sold 1200 copies, and set up his own publishing house, Excelsior Press. Publishing ventures so far have been Seymour Krim’s “Views of a Nearsighted Cannoneer,” which has sold 6500 copies; “Where to Go in Greenwich Village,” a dining guide by Marty’s wife Joan Geisler and The Voice’s Rosetta Reitz, which has sold 3500 copies; and a 75-cent poetry book, “All of Ted Joans and No More,” which is halfway through its second thousand.

Geisler, a former advertising man who first went into his current business when he realized there were enough paperbacks in print to stock stores on their own, takes an optimistic view of the future. He believes that “the potential market for paperbacks has reached the point where it more or less involves the whole population.”

And his store warehouse at 27 Third Avenue would seem to confirm this belief. Among the paperbacks on display (“there are now 14,000 in print, and we handle all of them”) are such little-known selections as “Jesus Was a Beatnik,” “Making Money in Today’s Market,” “Ritual Magic,” “Cartoons from Krokodil,” “God and the Day’s Work,” “Self-Defense for Women,” and “Nostradamus on Napoleon.”

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