Innovative MIT-area bookstore needs fresh owner, ideas


Lorem Ipsum books, a bookstore in Cambridge, Mass, is up for sale. Cambridge is one of the great bookselling towns of the world, and Lorem Ipsum was founded as a project by an MIT Media Lab grad named Matt Mankins, to explore sustainable business-models for brick-and-mortar bookselling. Now Mankins has moved to NYC to be CTO of a big magazine publisher, and he's taken to Hacker News to solicit buyers and ideas for the store (which is losing money).

I started Lorem Ipsum Books 9 years ago with the belief that bookstores were an important part of our community--and that they needed to innovate in order to survive.

Freshly out of graduate school at MIT the bookstore was started with the notion that integrating Internet-sales into a traditional brick-and-mortar bookstore was the way forward for small retailers. Rather than run from technology, we were going to embrace it to provide a new sales channel. With a group of friends I built this new way forward, creating Lorem Ipsum Books in Inman Square, Cambridge.

Lorem Ipsum benefited from a custom-coded inventory system that automatically listed our inventory for sale at other online partners like Amazon.com. It was fun to use, efficient, and worked. For awhile there, it looked like this dual-listing was the answer to bookstore's problems. Then supply-ballooned, demand remained the same, and prices dropped.

We tried many things, but were unable to get the store from red to black.

They just deleted our Wikipedia page, citing progress as being 'unremarkable'. Clearly something has to be done...

It's time to innovate again.

The bookstore needs fresh ideas, a radical change in thinking, and a reimagining of the role of the bookstore in the future. I don't want to shut the store down, but may be forced to. Instead, I'm looking to pass the store to other keepers--other innovators--hands.

Cambridge bookstore, founded as an online/offline hybrid, takes to web to look for new owner (Thanks, kingLuma!)