Local CBS news identifies Raven Used Books in Cambridge as one of the best book stores in city

Book Lover’s Delight: The Best Bookstores In Cambridge


CAMBRIDGE (Hoodline) – Wondering where to find the best bookstores near you? Hoodline crunched the numbers to find the top bookstores in Cambridge, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of the best spots to venture next time you’re in the mood for a good read.

1. Harvard Book Store

o Book Lovers Delight: The Best Bookstores In Cambridge
Photo: Beth H./Yelp

Topping the list is Harvard Book Store. The Cambridge institution is unaffiliated with the university, and instead of textbooks, it boasts two floors of fiction, nonfiction, children’s books and more, both new and used. It also hosts author events on an almost daily basis.

Located at 1256 Massachusetts Ave. in Harvard Square since 1932, it is the highest-rated bookstore in Cambridge, boasting 4.5 stars out of 310 reviews on Yelp.

2. Raven Used Books

o Book Lovers Delight: The Best Bookstores In Cambridge
Photo: Schiller D./Yelp

A few blocks away is Raven Used Books, situated at 23 Church St. With origins in Western Massachusetts (including Montague Bookmill, of which Raven owner John Petrovato was a co-owner in the 1990s), Raven moved into this spot in 2015. It specializes in scholarly and literary titles and benefits from a large volume of turnover, so that there is always something new to discover.

With 4.5 stars out of 112 reviews on Yelp, the shop has proven to be a local favorite.

3. MIT Press Bookstore

o Book Lovers Delight: The Best Bookstores In Cambridge
Photo: MIT Press Bookstore/Yelp

MIT Press Bookstore is another top choice, with Yelpers giving it five stars out of 38 reviews. This shop is owned and operated by the university press. It stocks most of the books and journals published by the MIT Press, along with selected books from other publishers working in related fields, such as art and architecture, computer science, cognition, neuroscience and linguistics.

The bookstore moved in 2016 from its longtime but cramped quarters in Kendall Square to this much larger store at 301 Massachusetts Ave.


Schoenhofs Bookstore to Close in Harvard Square


Sad to hear that Schoenhofs bookstore is closing. One of the oldest bookstores in the country that specializes in foreign language titles.

Schoenhof’s Foreign Books To Close Brick-and-Mortar Store

Schoenhof’s Bookstore Closes

Schoenhof’s Foreign Bookstore, located at 76 Mt. Auburn St., will close in late March.

After 161 years of business, Schoenhof’s Foreign Books plans to permanently shutter its doors on March 25.Schoenhof’s, the self-described “oldest and largest foreign language-only bookstore in the United States,” was originally founded in Boston in 1856. The store moved to Cambridge in the early 1900s and has been at its Mount Auburn St. location in Harvard Square since 1983.

In a press release announcing the closure, Daniel Eastman, Schoenhof’s general director, wrote that high rents in the Square and competition from online booksellers prompted the store to close.

“In recent years a number of independent businesses have been driven out of the Square by the high rents, and Schoenhof’s finds itself joining their ranks,” Eastman wrote.

Eastman said that while the closing is not ideal, he understands that Schoenhof’s had to shutter its brick and mortar location.

“Our landlord has been quite helpful with us, quite helpful and supportive, but there is only so much that they can possibly do,” Eastman said. “There comes a point when what they’re ready to concede and what we’re able to give can’t meet.”

For several decades, Schoenhof’s has rented its location from the Spee Club.

Denise A. Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said that consumers should prioritize buying from local businesses like Schoenhof’s to prevent their closure.

“You can’t expect that bookstores or newspaper stores or retailers of any kind will survive if people continue to buy online. That’s just the reality,” Jillson said.

David A. Gevarter ’19 said he was disappointed to hear the news. As a Romance Languages and Literature concentrator who speaks English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, and German, Schoenhof’s was his go-to bookstore.

“I’m a big language nerd, so I am very excited to be able to go into a store where they have a couple hundred languages available,” Gevarter said.

Gevarter also praised Schoenhof’s staff.

“I think the staff for sure was one of the best parts in addition to having such an amazing collection of books,” he said. “The staff there is incredibly knowledgable and very helpful. Even if you don’t know what you’re looking for, or if you’re just browsing, they are very helpful helping you find something that you’d be interested in.”

In the press release, Eastman said Schoenhof’s will maintain its online store as a way to continue to fulfill its mission.

“The mission of Schoenhof’s has always been to provide access to the larger world through language learning materials and literature in the original,” wrote Eastman in the press release. “Given the present political and social climate, that mission becomes ever more meaningful.”

Eastman said the website will offer a wide variety of foreign books at a low cost.

“We’d like to be able to take advantage, in a way, of having, say, the reduced expenses of our retail location, and invest that into having an amazing website that offers a complete experience, a complete customer experience as close to actually being in a bookstore without being able to be there, as well as offering the lowest possible pricing,” Eastman said.

Schoenhof’s has been a longtime member of the Harvard Square Business Association and is active in community events, particularly the Bookish Ball and Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebration, according to Jillson.

“It has been so lovely because we clearly get visitors from across the globe, and for us to be able to send them to Schoenhof’s to get a book in Portuguese or a book in French or a book in Spanish is just a delight, and something that is very unique and really will be a loss for Harvard Square,” Jillson said.

Jillson emphasized the importance of going out and buying from local retailers.

“It’s how much they care, and if they care, they will think twice before they go to Amazon to buy something,” Jillson said. “If they don’t walk out of their dorm room or out of their home and into the Square and into a store to support that store—and I don’t care whether it’s a local, regional, national, or international—if you don’t do that, the vibrancy of the Square or of any business district is jeopardized.”

Though Eastman said he is sad to see Schoenhof’s brick and mortar location go, he said he has high hopes for its online future.

“We really appreciate the support that we received from the students at Harvard over the last, my God, over 90 years that we’ve been in Cambridge. And we just hope that they’ll continue to visit us online,” Eastman said.

–Staff writer Alison W. Steinbach can be reached at alison.steinbach@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @alisteinbach.

—Staff writer Katherine E. Wang can be reached at katie.wang@thecrimson.com.


Great new collections hitting the shelves today

Willing to brave the brutal cold, snowy slippery streets or the crushing despair toward the world that most of us suffer with these days? If so, we picked up a few amazing collections over the past week. A large Classics library will start to come out today (there will be over 100 Loeb’s by next week). We also are starting to put out an amazing advanced Mathematics and Philosophy collection. Also picked up some nice art and literature books.






New collections update 9/12/16

As many people have noticed, we have been pouring in tons of incredible books of late.  Perhaps because we have purchased nearly 100,000 books in the last 2 months alone.  Large collections include subjects such as Philosophy, Mathematics, Physics, Political and social theory, fiction, Ancient and Medieval studies.  Not sure why this year we are getting much more books than previous years…..perhaps has to do with the baby-b00mer generation having build libraries and are now in the process of downsizing, retiring, etc.   Whatever the reason, it has been truly amazing and we have weeks worth of book collections scheduled already into the fall.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Harvard square, Cambridge, MA.: Raven Used bookstore now re-opened

On October, 15, 2015, Raven Used Books moved into its new home at 23 Church Street.  Great space.  The small store has already sold more than 1500 books in the first 3 days (but there are plenty others to be shelved).  feel free to contact us at: ravencambridge@hotmail.com

john petrovatoravenchurchinterior

REdesign: libraries – Speaker Bios for event at Worcester Art Museum, May 3, 2013

Matthias Waschek, PhD, became Director of the Worcester Art Museum in November 2011. Originally from Germany, Dr. Waschek wrote his PhD on French art theory of the end of the 19th-century, which encompasses thinking about the Fine and Decorative Arts, as well as architecture and literature in a globalizing world. Dr. Waschek served as Head of Academic Programs at the Louvre Museum in Paris from 1992 to 2003. His broad range of publications, along with his teaching (Ecole du Louvre, Parson’s School of Art, Sciences Po, Université de La Rochelle, etc.), had one major focus: exploring the relationship between artwork, artists and their public. He was instrumental in enhancing the Louvre’s academic profile by creating a series of international symposia and lectures on art historical and archeological themes.

As Executive Director and Curator of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (2003-2011), Dr. Waschek published extensively on 20th Century and Contemporary Art. He shaped the identity of the Foundation as a young and experimental institution with a strong community impact by clarifying its mission “as a laboratory and a sanctuary.” Waschek is widely respected for his innovative programs and exhibitions, as well as his talent for establishing robust strategic partnerships with community stakeholders and businesses. During his successful tenure at the Pulitzer, he built a stable organizational and financial structure to ensure long-term strength and sustainability. In order to raise the Foundation’s institutional profile and impact, he grew the annual operating budget by 52% over six years and increased professional staffing considerably. Throughout his museum career Dr. Waschek has generated numerous collaborations between universities and museums to develop experimental programs, such as a partnership between the Pulitzer Foundation and the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Waschek hopes to make the Museum an urban player in Worcester, strengthening an already existing culture of creativity, innovation and cohesion. His goal is to maximize the Museum’s regional impact, to engage the local community including more than 30,000 college students, and to make the institution organizationally and financially more sustainable for the next chapter of its growth.
Kristin Waters, Ph.D. is Professor of Philosophy at Worcester State University, and a resident scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center.  Recently she was named the first Presidential Fellow for Art, Education and Community and in this role serves as a liaison between the university and museum facilitating pilot programs to engage WSU students and faculty, and working towards making WAM a university museum. Her recent scholarship reclaims the philosophical work of women and African Americans situating it historically and within contemporary intellectual frameworks.  Her book, Black Women’s Intellectual Traditions: Speaking Their Minds (UPNE 2007), co-edited with Carol B. Conaway was awarded the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Prize for best anthology from the Association of Black Women Historians.  The 2000 collection, Women and Men Political Theorists: Enlightened Conversations (Wiley) remains one of the few race and gender-inclusive political theory collections.  Her most recent book chapter, “Past as Prologue: Intersectional Analysis in Nineteenth Century Philosophies of Race and Gender” appears in Why Race and Gender Still Matter: An Intersectional Approach, will be published by an imprint of Cambridge University Press in March, 2014.

Kulapat Yantrasast, a native of Thailand, is the co-founder and principal of wHY Architecture which he founded with fellow architect Yo-ichiro Hakomori in 2003 in Los Angeles, and opened with a New York location in the spring of 2012. Newsweek magazine’s recent article on architecture noted wHY Architecture as one of the most innovative architectural practices of the new generation, and their philosophy of integration of creative thinking with timeless design, along with their focus on intelligent and high-quality construction, have gained them a reputation for their architectural works and projects for the arts and culture all over the United States. In 2007, wHY Architecture completed the Grand Rapids Art Museum, which became the first new art museum in the world to receive the LEED certification for environmental design. Current projects include the expansion and renovation of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, the oldest and largest art museum in the state, a series of gallery design and collection installations at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the Harvard Art Museums, the Art Bridge at the Great Wall of Los Angeles, and the new Tyler Museum of Art in Texas as well as many residential and commercial projects. Other recent art cultural projects include the new Pomona College Studio Art Hall facility in Claremont, California. Prior to wHY Architecture, Kulapat worked as a close associate with Tadao Ando and served as a project architect on many projects during 1996 – 2003, which includes the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas, the ARMANI / TEATRO in Milan, the projects for the Calder Museum in Philadelphia, the Fondation Francois Pinault in Paris and the project for the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, that he continues to work on with Tadao Ando. Kulapat graduated with degree in Architecture from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and received his Masters and Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Tokyo under a scholarship from Japanese Government. He lectures regularly in the US and worldwide, and since 2005 he has served on the Artists’ Committee of American for the Arts, the nation’s oldest organization for the support of the Arts in society. He was also awarded the prestigious Silpathorn Award in 2009 from the Government of Thailand for outstanding achievement and notable contributions to Thai contemporary arts and culture; in doing so he became the first architect to receive the award. In 2012, he was named as one of the 100 Most Powerful People in the Art World in Art+Auction’s annual Power 100 issue.










Michael Edson is the Smithsonian Institution’s Director of Web and New Media Strategy. Michael has worked on numerous award-winning projects and has been involved in practically every aspect of technology and New Media for museums. In addition to developing the Smithsonian’s first Web and New Media Strategy, the Smithsonian Commons concept, and the Smithsonian’s multi-award winning Web and New Media Strategy Wiki, Michael helped create the Smithsonian’s first blog, Eye Level, and the first Alternative Reality Game to take place in a museum, Ghosts of a Chance. Michael is an O’Reilly Foo Camp veteran and was named a Tech Titan 2011: person to watch by Washingtonian magazine. Michael has a BA from Wesleyan University. He has worked at the Smithsonian for 20 years.





Adam Reed Rozan is the director of Audience Engagement at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts, overseeing education, the studio class program, marketing, design and visitor services. Previously, he was the Audience Development manager at the Oakland Museum of California, and before that, served in various functions at Harvard Art Museums, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Children’s Museum, Boston Public Library and Boston Museum of Science. His expertise is in visitor engagement through online and onsite innovative programming, and in-gallery/exhibition exploration. Rozan is a frequent lecturer and writer on museum engagement and contemporary art, and holds a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Museum Studies from Harvard University Extension School.



Jeff Goldenson works at the intersection of libraries, technology and fun. He is the designer in the Harvard Library Innovation Lab where he imagines and builds new library projects, from policy to software to experiences.  He’s Co-Teacher, Harvard Graduate School of Design Seminar 09125, The Library Test Kitchen, a workshop where – with the financial support of the Harvard Library – students design and build their own library projects.  Previously, Jeff was an artist-in-residence at EdLab, Teachers College, Columbia University.   He earned a Masters of Science from the MIT Media Lab and a BA in Architecture from Princeton University.


Tona J. Hangen is a social and cultural historian of the 19th and 20th century U.S. at Worcester State University in Worcester, MA, where she also serves as the Assistant Director of the Commonwealth Honors Program. She holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brandeis University and a B.S. in Anthropology/Archaeology from MIT. She is the author of Redeeming the Dial: Radio, Religion, and Popular Culture in America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002) and a contributing author to the recently published Cambridge History of Religion in America and to the Oxford Handbook of Mormonism (in press) and the forthcoming Routledge Companion Volume to Religion and Popular Culture. Her essays on media and religion have appeared in Radio Cultures: The Sound Medium in American Life, edited by Michael Keith, and in Radio Reader: Essays in the Cultural History of Radio, edited by Michele Hilmes and Jason Loviglio. Her research interests include popular culture, media, religion, women’s history, digital humanities, and the pedagogy of history. She has consulted with Teaching American History programs affiliated with the American Antiquarian Society and the Five Colleges consortium in Northampton, MA.

Molly Rubenstein joined the Artisan’s Asylum staff in July of 2011. First working as volunteer Outreach Coordinator and then Director of Operations, she is honored to be serving now as Interim Executive Director. Molly’s professional background is in community organizing, education, and the performing arts — she seeks out systems through which a community of people can explore new things and engage in a common vision. Her previous work with the public policy initiative Workplace Flexibility 2010 strengthened her conviction that there should be other options available for professionals than the standard 9-5 job; she’s excited to help makers and fabricators of all kinds find ways of supporting themselves through their creative work. Molly is a graduate of Yale University with a degree in Linguistics that she likes to find creative uses for in her day-to-day life.




Martha Mahard has more than three decades of professional experience with the Harvard University Libraries, including work in photography and visual collections at the Fine Arts Library, visual resources at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the Harvard Theatre Collection of The Houghton Library. She has written numerous publications and presentations in the field of photographic archives and visual information. Mahard received her D.A. and M.S. from Simmons GSLIS. She is currently Professor of Practice at the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

John Petrovato
has been a bookseller for over 20 years in Massachusetts.  Co-owner of the Montague Book Mill in the 1990 to 2000 and currently owner of Raven Used Books located in Harvard Square in Cambridge (2004) and on Newbury Street in Boston (2009). Also, co-owner of the newly opened Portsmouth Book and Bar in Portsmouth, NH.   The Raven specializes in used scholarly, literary, and art books in excellent condition. Winner of the “Best of Boston” by Boston Magazine (2012) and “Best Used Bookstore” by Boston Phoenix in 2011, each store sells over 5000 books monthly and 2012 was the best year thus far.   The Portsmouth Book and Bar combines used books along with a full restaurant and Bar and books well known regional and national musical acts.