Barbara Meade retired Dec. 31 from Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC, the store she founded with Carla Cohen in 1984 and nurtured for 29 years.
According to a history of the store posted on its website, Cohen died in October 2010. In June 2011 Meade sold the business to Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine and she stayed on in an advisory role until December.
"She will remain a vital part of the heart and soul of Politics & Prose and will continue to be admired and appreciated for the many ways in which she has influenced our community," according to a press release.
Meade wrote a parting note to her loyal customers and fellow book lovers:
"On December 31, after a bookselling career that began 35 years ago and encompassed four stores, I hung up my book bag and retired. But I was careful to place my bag where it is easily retrievable because I’ve been so tightly wrapped up in Politics & Prose for the last 29 years that I’ll never be able to totally leave.
Most important of all, there was my long partnership with Carla, a relationship I regarded as a gift to and from both of us in the third quarter of our lives. There are also many, many other people whom I’ve met in the world of books—customers, authors, bookselling colleagues, and publishers’ reps—all readers whose friendships have immeasurably enriched my life. So I’ll continue my involvement in the store by hosting events, hanging out in the coffeehouse, and leisurely browsing what’s new on the bookshelves. You may even find me sitting in a chair somewhere in one of P&P’s inviting alcoves, trying out a chapter before I commit to a book purchase.
When Carla became ill in 2010, Carla’s husband David and I were determined to find exactly the right buyer for Politics & Prose, a buyer totally committed to the mission of the store—to support intelligent fiction and nonfiction written by articulate authors that would impact our lives in a thoughtful way. I regard it as almost a miracle that we found exactly the right people, Brad and Lissa. In the 18 months I’ve continued to work in the store since they became the new owners, I’ve taught them everything I know. They’re fast learners—in just a year-and-a-half they’ve mastered my 35 years of accumulated knowledge! I’m tempering my sadness in leaving with my complete confidence that Brad and Lissa will sustain and grow P&P’s stature as an important literary and cultural center in today’s world."