The endangered Penn Book Center, one of Philadelphia’s oldest independently owned bookstores, will not close this month, as its owners announced a temporary reprieve they hope leads to a more permanent solution that enables the 57-year-old store to stay open.

The news came in an email sent to supporters Friday.

Like all brick-and-mortar stores, Penn Book Center has been challenged by online sales.
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Like all brick-and-mortar stores, Penn Book Center has been challenged by online sales.

Since announcing in April plans to close the store on South 34th Street — not to be confused with the University of Pennsylvania Bookstore — at the end of May, owners Ashley Montague and Michael Row said they’ve talked to “many people who have offered fantastic ideas, and we’re excited to explore them.”

The statement singles out Chi-ming Yang, an English professor at Penn, for her support.

Penn professor Chi-ming Yang leads a chant to save the Penn Book Center at a rally at the University of Pennsylvania on April 22.
Penn professor Chi-ming Yang leads a chant to save the Penn Book Center at a rally at the University of Pennsylvania on April 22.

Publicity over the planned closure turned out to be a boon for sales, which Montague and Row, who are married, said “have been phenomenal” the last two months.

Nonetheless, the store’s frequent-buyer incentives program will be discontinued after August to “stabilize our finances while we search for a new path,” they said. New rewards credits are no longer available and those saved up will be redeemed only through August, according to the email.

Founded in 1962 by Achilles, Olga, and Peter Nickles, Penn Book Center was sold to Montague and Row in 2005.

Like all brick-and-mortar stores, it has been challenged by online sales. Increased in-store events and other efforts to boost in-store traffic and sales “have not generated the sales we need to stay open,” Montague said in an April statement announcing the plan to close at the end of this month.