Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice

This is a poem for the longest night of the year.

          Winter Solstice

          The shortest day
          The darkest night
          The ice
          The winter weary heart

          Strike a match against the darkness
          Cup your hand around the flame
          for warmth
          Hold up the light against the blackness
          of the sky

          And know that tomorrow
          The sun will stay a moment more
          And the dark won't be so cold.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Final Open Book Gala

The process of closing The Open Book has been a grueling one.  It feels like attending an extended wake.  The Open Book family is sad, the customers are sad and the shelves are beginning to look empty.  I have always enjoyed coming to the store, now unlocking the door is bittersweet.

And then Antonella had an idea.  Antonella worked at The Open Book in 1999, the very first summer.  She has remained a dear friend of the bookstore as she has gone from a bright college student to a professional young woman. Whenever she comes to visit, she gets put to work selling books and charming customers.  Antonella said that we needed a party......a final gala to send the store out in style.

So last night we held the Final Open Book Winter Gala.  Friends, customers, employees and a few confused passer-bys paid a $5 cover charge to come into to a balloon filled store.  Wonderful food and wine was provided by Antonella and Jane.  We held a bake-off and ended up with some delicious desserts.  Some of us were in costume; literary characters from Valley of the Dolls, Perks of Being a Wallflower, David Copperfield, Les Miserables and the Bible were in attendance. People ate and drank and shopped for books.  It brought the happiness back to The Open Book and made me remember all the good times we have enjoyed over the years.

Now we have about a month left in business.  In that month I want people to feel the spirit of the bookstore.  Not the sadness of closing, but the happiness and hilarity and kindness and intelligence that I hope have always infused this business, no matter where we were located.

Mostly, I want people to feel my gratitude.  I know that I am incredibly lucky to have had this bookstore in my life for nearly 13 years.  I know that I am blessed by the friends that have come into my life because of The Open Book. I say thank you every day for the adventure this has been and the way my life has been enriched by a little store full of books and joy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Last Chapter

Just about thirteen years ago, I was getting ready to embark on the great adventure of opening a bookstore. Armed with some shelves, ninety boxes of books and a hand-me-down cash register, I was nervous and excited about what kind of place The Open Book might turn out to be. I wondered what kind of people would walk through the door to browse the shelves. I could not have even imagined the last thirteen years: the customers who became friends, the authors who came to visit, the talented and intelligent people who went to work behind the counter.
Sadly, the difficult economy, the rise of the popularity of ebooks and the arrival of another bookstore down the block have combined to form a set of circumstances that will result in the closing of The Open Book by the end of the year. We have tried everything to stay open but it is just not financially feasible to keep going.
The Open Book has always been more than a business to me. The store is the place where my children grew up, where the employees worked on their school projects and rehearsed their plays. Movies were filmed, songs were sung, books were read aloud, customers shared their favorites, a few romances bloomed and throughout it all, I sat back and smiled about this amazing little world that had grown up around a few books. I will miss all of this. I will miss all of you. But I am happy that for a few years, The Open Book existed in Westhampton Beach and enjoyed the privilege of being your local bookstore.

For the next few months, we are asking our old friends to come by and say hello. We need to sell everything in the store, so come in and buy a book at a healthy discount and while you are at it, buy a chair, bookshelf or some window decorations. We will continue to have free coffee, as well as a journal in which to set down your memories of The Open Book and the good times you have had with us. We will also set out a box of photos of our various events over the years. Dig through and see if you can find some pictures of your children at a Harry Potter event or a story time.

Finally, thank you all for your support. The store may not have been able to survive the competition, but I know how many of you made the extra effort to shop at The Open Book. Your loyalty and kindness will not be forgotten.

Keep turning those pages.......

Friday, May 6, 2011

True Confessions

I like to think that I am an educated person.  I own a bookstore and work in a library.  I have read widely, including some of the more challenging classics.  But here we name is Terry Lucas and I have never read anything by Charles Dickens.

Until now.  I am in love with David CopperfieldNow strictly speaking, I am not reading David Copperfield; I am listening to the book on tape as I commute to my library job.  Simon Vance, the narrator, (who, oddly enough, also narrates the Steig Larsson "Girl Who" books) does a marvelous job of capturing the pacing and the voices of the many characters. But it is the timelesss writing of Charles Dickens that brings readers to his work year after year.  What was I thinking by skipping this author all these years?

From the lovely Peggotty who loves little David as if he is her own boy to the malevolent Jane Murdstone, the people who inhabit the world of David Copperfield spring to life.  You can see the little graveyard in David's hometown and imagine the boat that is a house, inhabited by Mr. Peggotty, Ham, Little Em'ly and the eternally suffering Mrs. Gummidge. Mr. Micawber and Uriah Heep appear in this novel and I now have personalities and stories to go with those well-known names. By turns funny and touching and even a little frightening, David Copperfield is a pure pleasure. 

Keep those pages turning......

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Bookstore Friend

This last weekend I attended a memorial service for an elegant, intelligent and lovely woman.  As I looked around at her family and friends, I was grateful that I had been included in the gathering.  Because while Carla and I had spent hours over the years talking about everything under the sun, we had never sat down to a meal or even a cup of tea.  I was Carla's bookseller.

If you sell books to a person over a period of time, a special relationship develops.  I am privileged to know so much about the lives of my regular customers.  But "customer" is just not the appropriate word.  There is a deeper connection that a retail description does not cover.  Sometime I say that certain people are my "bookstore friends".  I have bookstore friends that drop in just to say hello without the thought of money exchanging hands.  I know about their joys and sorrows.  I have watched their children or grandchildren grow up.  I have been through the loss of a spouse or the celebration of a birth.  I also know what kinds of books take them away from the many distractions of a busy life or bring them comfort in a dark moment. And they know me too.  They have seen my daughters grow, experienced bookstore celebrations and sympathized with my struggles.

Of course there are people who are just passing through.  I hope that those people find a book that they love and enjoy their little time at The Open Book.  There are bookstore friends who have become "real world friends" as well.  My bookstore friends, however, hold a special place in my heart.  How lucky am I to have a world of people to care about, to share a love of books and a quiet talk on a rainy afternoon?

I will miss Carla.  Her gentle sense of humor.  Her love of good mysteries.  Her knowledge of the world.  I was fortunate that she walked into my door so many years ago and became my bookstore friend.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Big Sigh of Relief

Our Morning With Jodi Picoult was a success!  A few over 300 people were there to celebrate the publication of Sing You Home, talk to Jodi and hear the beautiful music of Ellen Wilber.  Here are some photos of a special day......

 Thanks to Cheryl Dorskind for the wonderful photographs!

Keep those pages turning!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Waiting For Jodi

As a bookstore owner, I have played host to many authors over the years.  From the launch party for Justin Kramon's Finny, to the impromptu Dr. Ruth afternoon to the lovely Christian McLean and his Duckhampton, I have been lucky to meet people who love to write and have put their words out into the world.

Soon we will be hosting another wonderful author.  Way back in 2000, a popular author published a book called Salem Falls and was kind enough to come to Westhampton Beach for lunch with the bookclub and a book signing.  Twelve years later, this author is extremely POPULAR and is coming back.  Jodi Picoult is an author that draws hundreds of people to her booksignings and we are going to get to be her host again.

I am thrilled, it goes without saying.  But I am also a little nervous. This is the kind of event that goes beyond the four walls of my tiny bookstore.  I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the space, the chairs, the books, the lines, the people.  Will my customers be happy?  Will Jodi be happy?  Can The Open Book pull this off?

I think we can.  With every employee and a few volunteers, we will welcome Jodi Picoult and musician Ellen Wilber on March 5th to celebrate the publication of the new book Sing You Home.  She will speak in the beautiful ballroom overlooking the ocean at the Westhampton Bath and Tennis Club.  We have strategies to make the autograph line move along smoothly and plans to have plenty of books available for sale.  Bagels and coffee will be offered at the store after the signing.

What makes me really happy is how excited my customers are.  When you get to meet someone who has taken you to another world with their stories, it is a treat.  When you read their books in the future, you will hear that author's voice and intonation.  It adds an extra layer to the experience of reading.  I am so happy to be able to offer that to my friends and customers. 

Just another reason why being a bookseller is an amazing profession.......