Tributes pour in after Rochester comic book shop owner dies from sudden illness

A valuable comic book and sports card store in Rochester is closed after the store’s longtime owner died this month of a sudden illness.

There are few brick-and-mortar stores like the Book Review left, but customers say there are far fewer with someone behind the counter like Craig Cotten.

Cotten was hospitalized on June 23 after cold-like symptoms progressed and revealed something much more serious – a mixture of severe pneumonia, septic shock and an aggressive form of acute leukemia.

Cotten was admitted to the intensive care unit and family members set up a GoFundMe page to help cover medical costs.

On July 5, the family announced Cotten’s death. He was 58 years old.

Kelly Moore, Cotten’s younger sister, said the book review was more than a store for its customers.

“It was the connection with him and the things they were talking about,” she said.

In a flood of tributes on social media, many Book Review customers shared stories of Cotten’s talent for recommending titles and introducing the world of sports cards and comics to others.

Moore said his brother’s passion for sports cards began when he started collecting around the age of 6.

During the 1990s, Cotten worked at both Face the Music (a now closed record store) and Book Review – years before buying the company around 2006.

“He always described himself as kind of a lone wolf,” Moore said. “I think he found his niche here and found something he was passionate about and understood.”

While Moore said family members know Cotten for his kindness and love of conversation, they now see a full picture of his impact on others through the book review.

“We are absolutely overwhelmed with all the messages from people,” she said.

The book review’s future remains uncertain, though Moore said it’s possible the business will remain in the family or otherwise continue under new ownership.

“It really would have to be someone special,” she said.

A celebration of life is planned to bring together his family, friends and many of Cotten’s customers.

“It’s bigger than our family,” Moore said. “[The Book Review] was his life. He had so many friends there.”

Daniel K. Denny