William Reese Company

Left to right: Nick Aretakis, Pom Harrington and James Cummins with William Reese Company’s literature specialist Terry Halladay.

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A joint venture between New York’s James Cummins Bookseller and London’s Peter Harrington has agreed to acquire the company and retain the name, staff and its location.

Starting out in 1975, Bill Reese (1955-2018) built his business in New Haven, Connecticut (close to the Yale University campus and Beinecke Library), to become one of the world’s best-known book dealerships. The firm focused particularly on Americana.

Since he died, the company has continued under the leadership of his widow Dorothy Hurt with Nick Aretakis re-hired in 2018 to run the firm. He had previously worked with Reese for over a decade but had left to establish his own rare book firm in California.

Following the deal to sell the business and its stock, Aretakis will continue to run William Reese Company with two new Americana specialists joining, taking the team to 10.

Pom Harrington, owner of Peter Harrington, said: “It is clear Nick’s knowledge and expertise were learnt from the master. We are looking forward to developing the business with Nick.”

Major investment

The existing premises (two townhouses in Temple Street, New Haven), the name and the ethos of the business will remain unchanged and printed catalogues and e-lists will continue to be published.

Harrington added: “This is a major investment and the inventory is significant. The company has the best clients, both institutional and private collectors.

“What we can bring with James Cummins is a lot of support including expertise in e-commerce, websites, databases, research and marketing and promotion.”

Harrington said the deal was an opportunity for the Peter Harrington business to enter the US.

He added: “Many have dabbled but it can be hard. But we feel confident that this will work. We can’t think of another occasion where a business of this nature has been bought but continued under its own name.”

Dorothy Hurt said: “It was always my goal to have the William Reese Company carry on and it gives me great pleasure that Peter Harrington, James Cummins and Nick Aretakis will continue the business in Bill’s tradition.”

Read about Peter Harrington’s latest sale in News Digest.