Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's a lovefest here in the bookworld.

I love my job. No, seriously, I do. I love books and what's more, I love booksellers. Two days ago I got to make a bookstore roadtrip with my colleagues Joan and Rebecca. Since Rebecca had already planned to be in Portland that weekend, Joan and I drove up after work on Sunday evening to meet Jon and Carrie Platt, the owners of Nonesuch Books. They greeted us like old friends and opened their home to us, despite the fact that they barely knew Joan and had no acquaintance with me whatsoever.

The next morning all of us from the Platt household met up with Rebecca at the South Portland location of Nonesuch Books and thus our adventures began. We spent quite a while exploring their terrific store from every angle, furiously taking notes and swapping bookseller survival stories. From there we moved en masse to the Saco location of Nonesuch, making friends along the way with a big, tumbly goofball of a mastiff puppy who charmed us all in the parking lot.

After parting ways with our new friends Jon & Carrie, the three of us made our way to RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH. After admiring the clean lines of the decor we chatted with owner Tom and events coordinator Michele about the current state of the book world and the importance of Buy Local programs and incentives.

From there we traveled south once more to Newburyport to visit Jabberwocky Books and the sister store Eureka, a child's delight filled with toys and educational products. Unfortunately the owner had gone home sick earlier that day, so we just poked around on our own.

The trip overall was quite educational. All four of these stores were very different from each other and from our own store, ranging from an intimate storefront in a vibrant downtown to a cavernous, rambling space in a renovated waterfront building. One serves primarily a working class clientele while another serves primarily a tourist one, and so on. But each had carved a niche for itself in its respective market and we came away from each store having learned something valuable to take back to our store. The best part, though, was chatting with the booksellers at each location, all of whom welcomed us warmly and paused to answer the dozens of questions we threw at them. They're a generous bunch and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of any other group.

~Emily C.

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