When I had my book store it always made me laugh when someone came in and asked if the store was a library. It was as if they couldn’t comprehend the thought of a person actually buying a book. I certainly didn’t make money on books and I stocked both new and used. The little money that I made was on sidelines, you know not the main thing the store is selling. People looking for a gift would buy a jar of jam or puzzle or game much more often than they would a book.
It was also interesting to see the difference in attendance at events that were held there. I had numerous book signings and poetry readings, with the exception of Snoetry, which was the longest poetry reading ever in Northwest Pennsylvania history and had a packed house, less than a handful of people attended. The most attended events held at The Last Wordsmith were rallies for Barack Obama. Next in highest attendance were the Tarot card readings. I could always count on them! But even when people did attend the majority did not buy. In regards to poetry readings, mostly poets attend these and poets rarely have money.
The Erie Book Store has been around for 90 years. Kathleen Cantrell has owned it for the past 32. I attended Poetry Scene there fairly regularly since the closing of my own book store. It is a welcoming store with a coffee area about the size of the one in my store but with a real fireplace. Kathleen has tended her shop for more years than I was able to mine. It is a difficult decision to make when it’s time to set it free, whether it is because the cost of it has made it impossible to remain open or as in the case of The Erie Book Store, its mom just wants to retire.
There are a couple of other independent book stores in Erie. Books Galore resides in a large, old house crammed from floor to ceiling with books both new and used and is well known for the best place to buy comic books. Werner Books is smaller but has a nice atmosphere and the owner is very helpful and easy to talk to. If there are more I am not aware of them, there are a few others in outlying towns though.
These stores do not have quite the atmosphere The Erie Book Store does with the rocking chairs in front of the fireplace to relax with a coffee and the history of Poetry Scene, which has not only been a place for Erie poets, storytellers and songsters to perform, but also where I have made so many friends, not to mention the store cat, Diggory! I’m so glad he will be retiring to North East for his golden years.
The Erie Book Store will truly be missed. The final four sessions of Poetry Scene start next Friday from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. and will be every Friday thereafter until August 26. I hope that you will be able to attend one or all of them.