Obituary Note: John Zubal

Bookseller John Zubal, founder of Zubal Books, which became one of the largest out-of-print book and back-issue periodicals companies in the U.S., died May 1. He was 83. Zubal began collecting books as a boy. His obituary noted that his fascination with the Tarzan series "spurred him to collect those, as well as other books, and then sell them at used bookshops on Cleveland's near West Side." 

Following graduation from Fordham University in 1961, Zubal earned a Master's degree in history at John Carroll University, but his "official" career began shortly after. While working as an instructor at Cuyahoga Community College, he continued to build his trade as an out-of-print bookseller, a side gig he ran with help from his wife and children from their Parma, Ohio, home. In the mid-1970s, he left teaching to commit fully to the book trade.

Originally called the Charterhouse of Parma, the business quickly outgrew its Parma roots and moved to various Cleveland warehouses until it found its final location in 1973 on West 25th St., where it was renamed John T. Zubal, Inc. and eventually became, as the obituary noted, "the largest out-of-print book and back-issue periodicals company in the United States, and, according to some, the world."

John Skrtic, chief of special projects and collections at the Cleveland Public Library, tweeted: "Was sad to learn of Clevelander scholar, historian and entrepreneur John Zubal's passing. He built one of the greatest book businesses in the country on the West Side of town. I enjoyed working with him over the years and will miss our meals together. Thinking of his family."

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