Coliseum Books has been my workday refuge for almost as long as I’ve been working in New York. When I was toiling at the Evil Law Firm (the one that docked my pay for going home when my dad died), in the long-gone New York Coliseum building at Columbus Circle, I hid out down the street in Coliseum Books most every lunch hour, and sometimes after work as well. Eventually I moved on to a less-egregious dayjob, and I was delighted when Coliseum opened in their new location on 42nd Street because that’s very close to where I work now. I go in there almost every day. I also go to a lot of the special events and readings they sponsor, both in their store and across the street in Bryant Park. I’ve seen readings by authors like Jean Nathan, who wrote the “The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll,” and Debbie Stoller, who wrote the “Stitch ‘n’ Bitch” books, and some writers’ group guy who talked about travel writing. I’ve picked up some great books at Coliseum, too, weird things I’ve never seen anywhere else, not even at the Strand. A picture encyclopedia of Russian prison tattoos—I got that at Coliseum. And last Christmas, when I was really, really, really broke, I suddenly realized that I was missing $10 and the only way I could think that I might have lost it was either I’d been accidentally shortchanged when I bought a Christmas-present book at Coliseum, or I’d dropped the $10 bill just as I was leaving the store. So I fretted about it for days and then I finally went in and told the manager guys that I was short $10, and they checked their weekly tally and found they’d come up $9-and-something over for the week, and they told me that was really unusual so they thought the money must be mine, and they gave me the $9. That was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. And that is why I was so unhappy when I heard that Coliseum Books had filed for bankruptcy. I don’t think my $9 was responsible, but I can’t figure what was. They seem pretty busy whenever I’m in there, which is just about every day, Monday through Friday. But lately I’ve noticed some changes: First, the shelves started to seem a little empty, and then the shelves started to disappear. Now there’s an empty area at the back of the store that gets larger and emptier every week. This year I’m going to try to buy as many Christmas presents as I can at Coliseum—not that I think that will save them, but maybe it will help a little bit with their debts. And I sure hope those guys get new jobs somewhere; they were very good to me.