I was thrilled to learn that an old friend from my early 90s bookstore days has just opened a bookstore with her family in Portland, ME. That’s right, I said opened a bookstore. The store is Letterpress Books, more info here.
A couple observations: I realized how spoiled I am in Boston to have 3 excellent bookstores within walking distance of where I live (plus others within the area but further away, plus some wonderful used bookstores) when I got to Maine, needed some last minute gifts, googled bookstores and found exactly two within all of the greater Portland area. (the above bookstore didn’t come up on my search). The nearest Barnes & Noble is 2 hours away in Augusta. It brought home the fact that if we aren’t careful, bookstores will be a luxury limited to large urban areas. As even owners of indie bookstores put out of business by B&N have begrudgingly pointed out, we’ve reached the point in some areas where if we don’t support B&N, some communities will be left with no accessible non-virtual bookstores. As someone who spends too little time out and about and too much time staring at a screen as it is, I find this sad. But I know I’m preaching to the choir here.
My friend said they’ve had great support from the community. I’ve been saying for some time that people who love books tend to love physical books, and love browsing for them in a physical bookstore (or library). The grateful reaction my friend is getting from the surrounding neighborhood backs this up. Here’s wishing my friend and her family the best.