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.