LONG-TIME EMPLOYEES AND FRIENDS OF CAPITOL HILL BOOKS PURCHASE STORE FROM OWNER JIM TOOLE
Long-time employees and friends of Capitol Hill Books have purchased the store from owner Morton “Jim” Toole, who had owned and operated the store since 1995. The sale was finalized yesterday evening. The new owners vowed to preserve the fiercely independent spirit of the bookstore and ensure it maintains its place as a literary hub of the community.
Mr. Toole, a retired Navy rear admiral, ran the business successfully for more than two decades, turning the store across from Eastern Market into a neighborhood gem that has been featured in national media and attracted readers from around the city and beyond. Toole, who has lately been quoting from General Douglas MacArthur’s farewell speech, sees the sale as a way to provide continuity for the store and the community. He will continue to work at the store and give guidance to the new owners. “Old sailors never die; they just fade away,” said Toole. “And youth will be served,” he added.
The store’s new owners are Aaron Beckwith, Matt Wixon, Kyle Burk and Shantanu Malkar. Beckwith, who earned a master’s degree in library science from Catholic University, has worked at Capitol Hill Books on a part-time basis since 2004 and will now manage the store. Among the small changes he has in mind are expanded store hours, increasing the selection of rare books, and more author events. “Jim has shown me the ropes of the book trade for the past 13 years and provided me with detailed accounts of history’s great naval battles, both of which I’m sure will be of paramount importance as I take the helm of this store,” said Beckwith.
Wixon, who worked at Capitol Hill Books for several years but left to form Bookstore Movers — a successful area moving company — in an effort to earn enough money to buy the bookstore, has now realized a decade-long dream and will serve a supporting role. Said Wixon: “This is why we carried all those armoires up three flights of stairs — to buy this place and invite Thomas Pynchon to the grand re-opening. Pynchon is still coming, right guys?”
Burk is a former weekend employee who has overseen social media for the store for the past several years. “Look, we all know that the insidious forces of capital want to come in and turn this store into an Urban Outfitters or whatever, but independent bookstores have an invaluable place in the social fabric of the city. Also, I admit I did get a black t-shirt at Urban Outfitters once and it was soft and fit really well,” said Burk.
Malkar has been enamored with the store since Wixon first introduced him to it in 2005. “I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to take this relationship to the next level,” he said. “Is Capitol Hill Books a heavy enough ballast to steady my unmoored life as it floats on this sea of ennui? God, I hope so. But today I just feel lucky,” said Malkar.
Capitol Hill Books will celebrate the sale this Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at their monthly wine and cheese party.