I was surprised that Microcosm was expanding during the Great Recession and stopped by last week to see how the little publishing company was staying alive given the collapse of markets, the death of books, etc etc. Scruffy production manager Joe Biel was manning the counter, his voice hoarse and body stiff from a recent bike accident that left him with a broken rib, but he gave me a rundown on how Microcosm was managing to expand while other book stores are folding up shop.
Microcosm publishes about 12 books a year, in addition to distributing roughly 3,000 zines and cheap books published by others. The company banks on one of those 12 books becoming a big success, and that's exactly what happened this year.
The staff realized that if they closed the small store one hour earlier, the saved money would cover monthly rent on the space next door. "The books have some room to breathe now," says Biel. Check out their new digs next time you're down in the SE industrial district.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!