The Book House in Dinkytown
        the best used academic bookstore in the Twin Cities

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Our History

The Book House in Dinkytown

Melvin McCoshIt all started with Melvin McCosh.  Melvin, pictured here, owned a book store in Dinkytown back in the days of the beatniks.  Bob Dylan was almost a student at the Univerisity of Minnesota (1959-60) back in those days and played in a local coffee house.  Many Book House customers still fondly remember McCosh as the grandfather of Minneapolis bookselling.  He lived in Shorewood in an old mansion, once a retirement home for Swedish lodge members. Nestled in the woods, McCosh filled the rooms and hallways with thousands of books on every subject.

When McCosh moved his store to a West Bank location in 1976. he helped Krisen-Eide Tollefson, James Cummings, and Rob Wasniak open The Book House.  Some still argue that the new store moved into McCosh's old space but the smart money is that Melvin's store was across the street in the space now occupied by Hollywood Video's parking lot. The Book House borrowed fixturing from the recently-closed Perine's Bookstore and The Dinkytown Dime and the Book House in Dinkytown was born. When Mel McCosh passed away some years later, his remaining inventory migrated to the Book House.

Kristen and TedThe current owner of The Book House in Dinkytown, Kristen Eide-Tollefson, pictured here with her husband, Ted Tollefson,  has, for the past 30 some years, dedicated herself to buying libraries and stocking a vast quantity of scholarly titles.   In the little magazine Gig, author Tiger Roholt interviewed Kristen in 1997. There Roholt commented, "Kristen has allowed the Bookhouse to become more of a book archive than a book store. One reason for this is the changing role of libraries. Libraries are starting to evaluate their stock based on rate of use. And since certain books are only taken out once a decade or more, the libraries are starting to discard or destroy books which do not have a high rate of use, even though many of these books are classics."

 Kristen tells the story of how she rescued a number of obscure titles being discarded by the Hill Reference Library:

When the Hill reference library dumped all but their business reference material, some was taken on by bookdealers in the Midwest, and the rest of it was burned. It was a very difficult decision as a bookdealer -- what to take on and how to re-organize your entire stock around this material. one of the things I took in were the water studies from the '60s, for which I took tremendous grief from the staff for years and years. One day, a couple people came upstairs with just armloads of these water studies. I felt so vindicated! It turns out that this was Greenpeace, and they were on their Mississippi tour, and they said to me, 'you know, these kinds of studies are only done once.'

 

 

I think of a used bookstore as a place to recover pieces of what's been lost in the present narrowing of vision ... individually, culturally, intellectually, and emotionally.

There's just something about being able to submit to, or submerge oneself in, that range of material that gives the tradition of the discipline, or the intellectual tradition, a chance to reconnect with whatever is happening now, and deepen it.

 

-- Kristen Eide-Tollefson quoted in Gig Magazine 1997.

 

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