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Fred Bass, Strand Bookstore’s longtime owner, dead at 89

The Greenwich Village icon leaves the beloved store in the care of daughter Nancy Bass Wyden.

Fred Bass, shown with daughter Nancy Bass Wyden

Fred Bass, shown with daughter Nancy Bass Wyden in 2009, was the second-generation owner of the Strand Bookstore. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Andrew H. Walker

Fred Bass, the second-generation owner of the Strand Bookstore, died Wednesday at the age of 89.

Bass began working for his father at the store when he was 13, and was a legendary figure in Greenwich Village, often working the shelves and buying desk, according to his daughter Nancy Bass Wyden, who currently owns the Strand.

“He never had an office, and loved when customers told him they enjoyed getting lost in the stacks,” she said in a statement. “He felt working with books was the best job in the world.”

Strand marketing director Leigh Altshuler said the cause of death was congestive heart failure.

Bass moved the store in 1957 from its original Fourth Avenue location to 828 Broadway, and it quickly became the go-to place for bookworms. With over “18 Miles Of Books,” the store has no shortage of recent and vintage offerings.

For example, a signed copy of John F. Kennedy’s book “As We Remember Joe,” is available at the store for $4,500.

“There’s nothing like it,” said Dan Rosenbaum, a longtime customer who lives in the Village. “This is a haven for people . . . it satisfies the needs of everybody, the collector and the casual browser.”

James Gulick of Philadelphia said he stops at the Strand every time he visits the city.

“I like seeing the current books in my areas of interest, and then I can find things that are older that you won’t find in a new bookstore,” he said.

“And then there’s the whole discovery thing,” Gulick said as he scanned the racks outside the store. “A lot of people come here just to have fun and look.”

Altshuler said that until recently Bass was coming into the store and working the book buying desk four days a week.

“This is my semiretirement job,” Bass told amNewYork in March 2016. “I wanted to keep working and not go on a fishing trip for the rest of my life. This is where the fun is for me; it’s like a treasure hunt! I find it very stimulating.”

The Strand staff was in a somber state during the workday Wednesday, according to Altshuler. “Everybody loved and respected Fred and his passion for books. It’s heavy news and everyone wants to work to keep the passion alive,” she said.

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