||That John Zubal surrounds himself with history should come as no surprise. The 73-year-old Parma native has lived in the same house since infancy.
Upon graduating from St. Ignatius High School in 1957, Zubal majored in history at Fordham University. Doctoral studies in history at Kent State University, then at Western Reserve University, led to teaching history as a member of the first faculty at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®).
| “Since I had never taught before, I was hired on an hourly basis,” Zubal said of the job he began in 1963. “I was paid by the classroom hour for teaching three three-hour sections of Western Civilization, making $180 a week that first semester…”
By the second semester, Zubal was hired full time. When the Western Campus opened in 1966, he was drafted to teach there. “I didn’t want to go, as I liked it downtown,” said Zubal, who taught at the old Brownell School building before the Metropolitan Campus opened. “But it was closer to home and it all turned out well.”
Zubal’s penchant for history led him to start buying and selling old and rare books in his spare time. It became his other job. “All of us had side jobs in addition to teaching,” Zubal said. “I sold old books, another guy sold cars and one even grew Christmas trees in a nursery.”
Zubal established his book business in 1961. By 1975, the business had three full-time employees and needed more of his attention. Zubal retired from Tri-C that same year.
Specializing in literature, philosophy, history and theology, Zubal Books
occupies several buildings on West 25th Street. Its major customers are colleges, universities and research centers worldwide seeking to fill out their collections with hard-to-find volumes. By some accounts, Zubal Books is the largest buyer and seller of old and rare books in the country.