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Shakespeare & Co – and its 7 million tracks

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Dane Neller recalls when she learned that 4-star Amazon was selling books at The SoNo Collection mall, which he had long planned for his own bookstore’s first location in Connecticut.

Neller’s iconic Manhattan store, Shakespeare & Co. is coming to South Norwalk anyway – and with its state-of-the-art machine that can print and bind books on-site from a library of some 7 million titles, perhaps offers the closest equivalent to the brick and mortar online shopping experience on Amazon.

With The SoNo Collection now putting Shakespeare & Co. on a list of future tenants, Neller confirmed the plan to Hearst Connecticut Media on Tuesday, without providing a target date for a grand opening.


Neller, who has undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University, said he hoped to open last year at The SoNo Collection, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a delay.

“It’s a beautiful new mall,” Neller said. “The malls have been hit quite a bit by the pandemic, but it looks like, hopefully, we’re coming out on the other side. “

Since establishing The SoNo Collection before the 2019 holidays, developer and operator Brookfield Properties has sought to differentiate the mall with a mix of unique retailers and an expansive menu of dining options.

Today, the SoNo collection remains Connecticut’s only option for those looking to shop at 4-Star Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, and Camp. But the mall has yet to fill a row of restaurants on West Avenue which is the main gateway to its parking lots and street-level entrances.

After losing nearly $ 1.9 billion in the first half of 2020 when shopping malls closed nationwide to limit the spread of COIVD-19, Brookfield Properties rebounded with $ 1.4 billion in profits during the first six months of this year. In early July, the company reported a 92% occupancy rate at its nearly 120 malls and shopping centers, including the Brass Mill Center in Waterbury.

The SoNo collection marks Shakespeare & Co.’s first store in a suburban market like Connecticut, with Neller having rebooted the brand in New York City in 2015.

Shakespeare & Co. opened in 1983 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, later adding a boutique in Philadelphia. The store is only linked by name to the famous Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in Paris, its company owning the American brand.

In New York, Shakespeare & Co. recently introduced the “Espresso Book Machine” which can produce hardcover books in minutes from a catalog of over 7 million titles in the public domain and “in law.” author ”otherwise.

Neller runs a separate company called On Demand Books which offers the service in several college bookstores in the United States and around the world, as well as a Barnes & Noble in New York. Madison RJ Julia Booksellers store offered espresso machine services for a short time ten years ago.

Barnes & Noble closed in Norwalk seven years ago on Connecticut Avenue, with Planet Fitness having opened earlier this year in space. No bookseller has opened a store in Norwalk since the release of Barnes & Noble.

Last year, Barnes & Noble moved its Westport store to a smaller downtown storefront that offers better visibility than its old mall on Post Road East.

Neller said Shakespeare & Co. is closer to an independent bookstore, with a smaller footprint than Barnes & Noble and a welcoming cafe that encourages people to linger. He admits, however, that he looked at 4-star Amazon on a recent visit to Norwalk.

“The first thing I said was, ‘How many books do they have?’ Neller said with a laugh.

[email protected]; 203-842-2545; @casoulman


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