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The Joseph Fox Bookshop first opened in Philadelphia in 1951. Photo: Center City District
The Joseph Fox Bookshop first opened in Philadelphia in 1951. Photo: Center City District

Joseph Fox Bookshop closes doors after 70 years

The Center City bookshop had become a staple over the years in the city’s literary scene.

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On Jan. 29, the Joseph Fox Bookshop in Center City will close its doors. The local bookstore operated on Samson Street for over 70 years.

First established in 1951, and moved to its final location in 1986, the shop first operated out of the building’s basement, before moving upstairs — a decision of Michael Fox.

The Joseph Fox Bookshop was being run by second-generation owner-operators Michael and Judi Fox up until the announcement of its closure.

With business struggling to reach pre-pandemic levels, and considering the time that goes into running the shop, the duo have decided to close doors by the end of the month.

Michael Fox took over his father’s store in 1990. The original owner passed away in 1998, but the shop has borne Fox’s father’s name since its opening.

Joseph Fox never graduated high school, but his love of literature was “obsessive,” as described by his son. The original owner had a keen interest in architecture, art, and design.

Michael, on the other hand, was more interested in political philosophy and history.

Sharing sentiments of transition and appreciation, he believes he’s of the age where it’s appropriate to retire at 69-years-old.

The departing bookstore carried a rich selection of literature that did not neglect niche audiences. 

At the Joseph Fox Bookshop, one could find poetry, history, art, literary fiction and nonfiction amongst other titles. 

Joseph Fox’s wife, Madeline, had once taken on the curating of a children’s section for the shop. Later, it became a reading nook.

The bookshop has requested patrons use gift cards before the Jan. 29 closure. Online orders have been closed.

Going forward, the Joseph Fox Bookshop will leave behind a legacy in Philly of literary community and attention to lesser known published works.

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