Book Culture is a bookstore on 112th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. Until the 2007–2008 academic year, it was called Labyrinth Books, and most people still call it that anyway. As new generations of students come to a Labyrinth-less Columbia, this is one of those things that will probably make alumni feel old.
Occasionally, professors will launch their books at wine and cheese gatherings at the store.
Most students in humanities classes are forced to use
Labyrinth Book Culture because their professors decided to support this mom & pop operation, rather than the Columbia Bookstore. In any case, it has friendlier, more helpful staff, but like all off-campus locales, does not take Flex, forcing students to use real money they can't just bill their parents for on the fly.
At the beginning of each semester, everyone entering the store is accosted by a clerk demanding he or she surrender their bag. The second floor of
Labyrinth Book Culture will be arranged so students can find books by course, and roving salespeople will be more than willing to help should this still prove challenging. Business gets a little crazy at the beginning of the semester, so expect to wait in line.
Lots of people (mostly girls) tote around Labyrinth-branded bags; when you see these people outside of Morningside Heights it is safe to assume they have been affiliated with Columbia at some time, although the store recently opened a new branch in New Haven, Connecticut, home to Yale, and even one at hated Princeton. In any case, people who wear or use Labyrinth merchandise are infinitely less annoying than those who do so with products from Strand. It is unclear whether Book Culture merchandise will be equally popular. People who still have Labyrinth bags probably think that makes them cool. And they might be right.
What's in a Name
Labyrinth Books still exists in New Haven and, shockingly, Princeton, after a business dispute-cum-lawsuit of some kind let to the original Columbia branch becoming independent and being forced to forfeit the name.