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The American businessman and investor John W Henry, who owns both the Boston Red Sox baseball team and Liverpool FC in the UK’s Premier League, has now added Harvard Book Store to his roster of interests. While he hasn’t bought the famous Cambridge Massachusetts indie entirely, he has made “a series of investments” in the store “ensuring the long-term sustainability” of the business. The store says that future investments will go to projects “to enhance the bookstore’s presence in Greater Boston’s literary landscape.”
In a letter from the store’s owners Jeff Mayersohn and Linda Seamonson, they write: “John originally reached out to us during a very low point in the pandemic, having read about the financial challenges our store was facing, and offered to help. While over the last few months our financial situation has improved—thanks to our customers, our marvellous staff, our landlords Harvard Real Estate, and some very generous government programs—the long-term sustainability of Harvard Book Store remained uncertain. And so, our conversations with John have evolved from simply preserving the business in the short-term, to developing a vision for how we might work together to better serve our community of readers and writers for decades to come.
“In the immediate future, we will embark on a series of renovation projects for our store at 1256 Mass Ave in Cambridge and enhancements to the browsing and e-commerce experience at harvard.com. All of these will make Harvard Book Store a better place to work and a better place to shop. Beyond these immediate projects, we are developing other plans, all in very early stages, that will serve the literary community in exciting ways. We look forward to sharing more with you as these projects progress.”
The pair praised Henry and his wife Linda for their “deep commitment to our region and its cultural institutions, having invested in community projects for more than two decades. They are known for their philanthropic work; the Red Sox Foundation is the largest in Major League Baseball. They are also committed to independent bookstores and are insistent that Harvard Book Store maintain its indie identity, which has defined it for almost 90 years.”
Henry founded the investment management firm John W. Henry & Company in 1981, and his wealth is estimated at $3.6bn. As well as his sporting interests, he also owns the Boston Globe newspaper. Commenting on his decision to support the bookstore he said: “Linda and I have long appreciated the role that Harvard Book Store plays in our region’s cultural life. We hope that our involvement will enable Harvard Book Store to build upon this legacy to better serve the readers and writers of Greater Boston and beyond. Our intention is that the store stay indie to its core, as part of the marvellous universe of bookstores that add so much to their communities.”
Founded in 1932, Harvard Book Store sells new, used, and remainder books, across both academic and general interest titles. Its current owners bought the store in 2008.