Keep Calm and Keep Reading

Talking Leaves, originally founded in June 1971 by Kate Selover as a replacement for the Student Bookstore, has evolved into a thriving independent bookstore. In 1974, when Selover moved to New York City to pursue another venture, a group of customers raised funds to purchase the store and transform it into a book cooperative. The transition was completed on January 1, 1975, marking the beginning of Talking Leaves’ remarkable journey.

Over the years, Talking Leaves has grown rapidly, attracting a large membership base and hosting various literary events. Despite the challenges posed by the cooperative regulations in New York, the store adapted and eventually became a regular corporation owned by Martha Russell and Jonathon Welch in 1978. The following year, Talking Leaves embraced its current name, reflecting its passion for language, storytelling, and the power of books in shaping culture and communication. The motto of the logo, designed by Buffalo artist Michael Morgulis, aptly states, “word is seed.”

Throughout its history, Talking Leaves has relocated several times within the University Heights neighborhood, expanding its inventory and cultivating community relationships. In the face of a national decline in independent bookstores fueled by superstore chains and online retailers, Talking Leaves remained Buffalo’s sole surviving independent bookstore. In response to the Elmwood Village community’s support and a desire to foster local businesses, a second store was opened in July 2001 through crowd-funding initiatives.

Despite the challenges brought upon by changes in the book industry and student book-buying habits, Talking Leaves continued to adapt and thrive. However, it was ultimately forced to close its original location due to shifting demographics and the University’s relocation. The store in Elmwood Village, well-supported by the community, is conveniently located near two renowned art museums, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center. It is also close to the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, several iconic architectural masterpieces, charming Victorian homes, and Delaware Park.

The store’s original vision of offering a wide selection of books from various eras and creating a welcoming space for readers and writers remains unchanged. Customers are encouraged to participate in conversations either in-store or online, as diverse perspectives and multiple voices contribute to a stronger community, culture, and personal growth.