A man wearing an orange work vest walked into the Maple Street Book Shop just before 5 p.m. Thursday and asked for a book on Albert Einstein. But police and the store’s owner said the man’s mind was not on general relativity.

He wanted money, and he had a knife.

Gladin Scott, the owner of the Uptown bookshop, said that when a clerk walked the man back to the history and science room, he quickly put a blade to her neck. He then kept the knife to her neck as he forced the woman to go to the register, where he grabbed the cash and fled.

It was the first time the store had been robbed in its 52 years in the 7500 block of Maple Street, Scott said. Even during the worst days after Hurricane Katrina, he added, the shop was untouched as other nearby businesses were looted.

“What is he thinking? It’s a bookstore,” Scott said. “There are two things we don’t have here: drugs and money.”

There were customers in the store at the time of the robbery, Scott said, but they were in a separate room for children’s books. His clerk was not hurt, but he feels guilty that he had just left the store.

“My concern is that one of our staff members had to have that happen to them, and that I wasn’t here,” he said.

Scott announced plans to close the store back in October, citing falling sales. But since then an upswell in support from customers has allowed him to keep the business open. He said he is now taking things one month at a time, hoping to keep the store open as long as he can.

The armed robbery will have no impact on his business decisions about the store, he said.

“This guy must be living under a rock,” Scott said of the robber. “Certainly, he must know the Maple Street Book Shop doesn’t have money. And true to form, we didn’t have much money in the register.”

Police said the robber was described as a black man, about 6 feet tall and 230 pounds, with short black hair and a clean-shaven face. He was wearing dark glasses, a dark-colored baseball cap, an orange work vest, dark clothing and a large leather tool belt.

He was seen driving a silver Ford F-150 pickup with a black ladder rack in the truck bed.

The 2nd District’s Person Crimes Unit is leading the investigation and can be reached at (504) 658-6020.