Mr. Lawrence Hoyt, the founder of the future Waldenbooks, went into business for himself, a rental library
in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where readers could spend 3 cents a day reading books. He opened his business on March 4th, 1933, the same day that Franklin D. Roosevelt closed the banks. Despite it being the middle of the worst economic times in the nation's history, Mr. Hoyt's business was a resounding success. By 1948, he had 250 stores, coast to coast.
With the advent of the paperback book in the 1950's, books became affordable for purchase for the common person. Mr. Hoyt adapted his stores, and in 1962, opened the first independent retail-only store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In 1969, ownership changed to Carter Hawley Hale Stores, Inc., parent company to Neiman-Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores. Under this ownership, expansion was rapid, and in 1972, all stores assumed the name Waldenbooks, after Thoreau's literary classic "Walden". By 1981, Waldenbooks had 750 stores and benchmarked an industry first - they had stores in each of the 50 states.
In another change in ownership, K-Mart bought Waldenbooks in 1984. Brentano's, an upscale book retail chain, and Coles, a Canadian book retail chain, were acquired by Waldenbooks in the same year. In 1987, Waldenbooks acquired its own publishing company, Longmeadow Press, publishing almost 200 titles a year.
Borders Books and Waldenbooks joined together under K-Mart ownership in 1994, and in 1995 went public as Borders Group Incorporated.
Currently, Waldenbooks operates over 1,000 stores in 3 countries. It also holds the title as the largest mall-based book retailer in the world.