NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 16, 2013

Book Rack converting into coffee shop

NEWBURYPORT — One year after it was renovated, The Book Rack will change again.

Most of the State Street venue will be converted into a coffee shop with only a portion of the storefront staying as a bookstore, its owners announced recently.

Signs notifying customers of the change have been posted on the windows, and staff has been busy over the last few days clearing out the furniture and getting the space ready for the conversion.

The coffee shop, the Atomic Cafe, will be operative in about six weeks, said John Hugo, a principal of Hugobooks, Inc., which runs the Book Rack.

“We’ll still have books, but there won’t be nearly as many,” Hugo said. “Much of the space will be leased to a vendor who plans a cafe.”

Hugo, who completed a renovation of the shop last summer, said it is getting too difficult to sell books.

“Amazon is killing us,” said Hugo, whose firm owns bookstores in Andover, Marblehead and Swampscott. “People will come in, see a book and then leave with the information on their smartphones so they can order online.

“In June and July, this trend really became evident,” he said. “So we are making a change.” The other three stores in the Hugobooks chain will continue to operate.

The Atomic Cafe will assume about 70 percent of the current space, and offer a variety of coffee, sandwiches and snacks. The company opening the venue has similar cafes in Beverly, Marblehead and Salem.

The remainder of the storefront will hold books and cards.

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