Steve Raymond, who spent more than four decades in the book industry as a bookseller and pioneering wholesale distributor, died September 7. He was 68. Shortly after graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1971, he and his brother Michael opened Pandora's Books, a used bookstore near campus that expanded within a year to carrying new titles as well. The South Bend Tribune noted that "for 45 years Pandora's thrived in the Northeast neighborhood adjacent to Notre Dame Campus, providing students and neighbors with a low-cost source for used and new books, textbooks, magazines and newspapers."
Becoming aware of the difficulty his bookshop and others had in procuring alternative and small press titles, he joined siblings Michael, Marc and Mary in 1973 to launch "the distributors," a wholesaler specializing in books from small, mid-sized and alternative presses. By 1976, the distributors occupied a 30,000-square-foot warehouse in downtown South Bend, selling to retail bookstores, libraries and schools throughout the Midwest. As they expanded, the distributors re-accessed their inventory and during the 1980s they began carrying trade paperbacks from all of the major publishers, and then mass market and hardcover titles. By 1983 they had become a full-service national wholesaler, offering same-day, 24-hour turnaround service. The distributors, which closed in 2015, was known for its imaginative marketing efforts. For years, the company's T-shirts were coveted by booksellers and publishers alike.