The Bookstore Lives

In 2010, I wrote a blog post about Left Bank Books, a wonderful shop two hours up Maine’s southern coast. My wife discovered the shop that year during a break in one of her company’s board meetings. Since then, she, our son, and I have dropped by on several occasions to purchase books, but not yet in 2012.

Yesterday, as she and a colleague returned to southern Maine after yet another meeting, my wife took a detour into Searsport to visit Left Bank Books. When she pulled up to the curb at around midday, she saw a Closed sign on the door. Her colleague got out of the car and peered into the shop window. “Oh, no,” she said when she returned. “They’ve taken everything down. It looks like they’ve closed for good.”

For a couple of hours after my wife told me about this, we were sad that online retailing had claimed another casualty. Yet another of our favorite bookstores was gone. But then I decided to go online to see if I could find happier news about them. To our delight, we did: According to an article in the Bangor Daily News, the owners of Left Bank Books had relocated to Belfast, Maine, where they now join several other fine bookstores in and around the downtown area. They moved not because of failing business but because business was so good. They didn’t have the space to accommodate all the customers who wanted to attend their special functions and readings. So they moved to a bigger space in Belfast.

This is sad news for Searsport, but how nice that in the current book-buying climate, an old-fashioned bricks-and-mortar bookshop, with people to talk to and chairs to sit in, is not just surviving but thriving. Our family is already planning a day trip to Belfast, where we’ll not only check out one of our favorite restaurants but also visit the other bookstores in town, including Artisan Books and Bindery, BellaBooks, and the Old Professor’s Bookshop. And on our way back, we just might stop at the great Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick to browse their fantastic selection of poetry.

So, disaster averted. Left Bank Books lives, as do many indie bookshops in our area. Great news.



6 thoughts on “The Bookstore Lives

  1. Definitely a good news, bad news story. I hope the folks in Searsport and other small towns make the trek to the nearest indy bookstore. I’m in the same situation in that the nearest store is in a town more than 40 miles up the road, so it’s not always easy.

  2. Thank you for your comments, Tricia and Lynne. Left Bank Books’ departure is indeed sad for Searsport. I’m not an expert on the town, but, from what I gather, they could use more shops like this to liven up the downtown. Our area, too, has a paucity of good bookshops. Not one of the handful of bookstores within 25 miles of our house is open past 5:30. But at least there still *are* bookshops, and they appear to be doing well.

  3. Few things are better than spending an afternoon at a bookstore. So glad to hear Left Bank Books’ is still going strong.

  4. It’s always great when an independent bookstore can not only survive, but thrive. I live in a smallish town in Texas that’s still close to bigger things. Several years ago, an independent bookstore opened; my wife and I weren’t sure if it would last. There’s a large Barnes and Noble one way, and a half-price bookstore the other. The last bookstore in town, right in the middle of the action (if you could call what we experience in town “action”), didn’t last. This bookstore is at the far end of our main street where nothing but the Masonic lodge has lasted. And yet, there it is: a little bookstore that’s survived against the odds.

    Most things in town are either large chain stores along the highway, or restaurants with several locations in the area. No other truly independent shop of any sort seems to last, so it’s great that one that has happens to sell nothing but books!

  5. I agree with you, Anita: An afternoon at a bookstore is a wonderful way to spend a day. And Christopher, I’m delighted to hear that that indie bookstore near you has survived. People often don’t realize how much that resource means to them until it’s no longer there. That’s why we want to support the Belfast stores to the extent we can. I hope they stay in business for a long time.

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