Book Stop owner Jerry Lane often had a stack of books that weren’t for sale. When the bookseller came across a book he thought someone would like, he put it aside and often offered it to them for free.
“He was generous,” said private bookseller Ed Ripp. “He wanted good books in people’s hands.”
A lover of murder mysteries, Lane was the “patriarch” of the Albuquerque bookstore, said Mark Holmen, owner of BookMark and organizer of the Albuquerque Book Fair. Lane died Sept. 23 after a year of declining health, according to Ripp. He was 78 years old.
“He was as nice a guy as any of us have ever met,” said Nick Potter, owner of Nicholas Potter Books in Santa Fe. “He was generous in heart and spirit on so many levels. .”
They became friends right after Lane opened his second-hand bookstore, and although their businesses were in different cities, they both visited each other’s stores frequently.
Lane once gave him a paperback copy of A man called Ove by Fredrik Backman, says Potter.
“It was a fictional book that lifted my spirits, and I passed it on to a friend who was in the hospital and needed to lift my spirits,” Potter said.
The couple eventually tracked down the movie version and watched it.
“When you interacted with Jerry, you were better off,” Potter said.
Lane was born on February 8, 1944 in San Diego, California. He didn’t always work in the books; the businessman served in the Air Force for several years, Ripp said. He later owned a cafe in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, before becoming a traveling gift card salesman. Lane moved to Tucson in 1973, where he was introduced to the book business by Laurie Allen, who owned a Book Stop location in Tucson and helped Lane open his own open store in Albuquerque. Lane opened the bookstore in 1979.
Ripp met Lane shortly after Chicago native Ripp moved to Albuquerque in 2009. When the beer boom hit the town several years ago, Ripp and Lane tried new bars every week. Ripp, a craft beer fan, said he gained 15 pounds that year.
Rachel Hess worked for Lane for five years in the mid-1980s. She said he could talk to anyone about anything. Eventually, Lane pushed her to open her own bookstore – which she did in 1989.
“He used to help his competitors,” Hess said. “He was like, ‘Rachel, it’s time to open up your space and spread your own wings.'”
Lane gave Hess a wall of bookshelves to start Rachel’s books. She was one of many former Lane employees who went on to open their own bookstores. Hess has since closed the bookstore after having her third child.
Although Lane originally opened Book Stop in Nob Hill, the bookstore has had many homes over the years. Book Stop eventually landed in Washington and Lomas, before Lane closed brick and mortar in 2015. But Lane later reopened at 1512 Girard NE over a year ago, with a sign to this day saying ” open by appointment or luck.”
Potter said the essence of the store never changed.
“I think the change was more the address than the business,” Potter said. “I think Jerry was consistent in the books he wanted to manage: good books at fair prices.”
Ripp said that in the 13 years he’s known Lane, Lane’s store has changed locations about five times. Each time, he carried his own books to the new location. And, every few months, Lane would haul a truckload of unsold books to donate to a library in California — no small feat, Ripp said.
“I’ve been lifting and moving books for 30 years, it’s not fun,” Ripp said.
Lane had a good sense of humor and never stayed mad for long.
“He was a great storyteller, a joke teller – such a positive person,” Potter said. “He just stood up for good things as far as I’m concerned.”
A man once stole a book from Book Stop, Potter said. Lane ran after the man; although he was unsuccessful, the incident was covered by local news and a witness described an “old man running after him”. Potter said Lane thought the description was hilarious.
“He was a staple of the book scene here,” Ripp said. “He was a force for good and the type of bookseller he was is a dying breed.”
A memorial is planned for October 29 at the Girard Book Stop location.
Lane is survived by a sister in California.
“The bookstore world in Albuquerque and the world in general are much smaller places with Jerry’s passing,” Ripp said. “…He was a beloved man, and I will miss him terribly.”