Regional bookstores hope fall promotion rekindles readers' passion for independent vendors

“Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” is the frequently quoted response of American humorist and author Mark Twain when he heard his obituary had appeared in a newspaper while he was still living. These days, a similar reaction is heard from owners of independent bookstores in response to the oft-told tale of brick-and-mortar booksellers going out of business.

“Independent bookstores are alive and well in western New York!” affirmed Anne Mancilla, who opened Explore! the Bookstore in 2008 in Clifton Springs. “I think people have tired of impersonal online shopping for books. These days, they can visit their local independent bookstore and find enthusiastic, knowledgeable book lovers and, in doing so, support their local economies.”

During the month of October, lovers of books and “bookish items” are encouraged to follow a trail of bookstores from Brockport to Penn Yan. Fall Into Books — A Bookshop Tour features 13 stores, all within 1 1/2 hours of Rochester. Bookshop “Tourists” download or pick up a “Passport” at the first store they visit, which will be stamped or stickered at each stop with a chance to win one of two gift baskets. The Passport also entitles shoppers to receive 10 percent off any purchase.

“The idea actually originated with Carolyn McNeil at The Paperback Place in Canandaigua,” explained Carrie Deming, whose shop, The Dog Eared Book, is on East Main Street in Palmyra. McNeil says she was inspired by the many wine tours in the Finger Lakes.

“There’s got to be more readers than wine drinkers,” laughed McNeil, who just celebrated her 20th year of business on Canandaigua’s Main Street in September. Deming, along with Marcia Marsille, the owner of another Palmyra bookstore, The Village Bookmarket, helped turn the idea into reality.

Tour participants will discover that no two bookstores are alike. Owners Mancilla and Marsille each resurrected a former bookstore. Mancilla’s business moved into the location in Clifton Springs occupied by the Devereaux Book Store during most of the 20th century. In Palmyra, Marsille’s enjoyment of browsing Kavanagh Books prompted her to open her own business there when Kavanagh closed.

“I thought, what a loss for the village,” Marsille recalled. As it happens, the former bookstore’s proprietor, Bethany Haswell, now owns the Stomping Grounds in Geneva, another store on the tour.

“We offer extraordinary customer service," Deming said. "Plus, a lot of people understand the importance of shopping local and do it."

The Palmyra stores are right across the street from one another. Marsille, who does book repair, specializes in used, hard-to find and out-of-print books. Deming also stocks thousands of used books as well as a large selection of new, reasonably priced titles challenging her to keep up with the estimated 300,000 new titles published each year.

For many years, she worked in the Macedon Public Library. Nearly three years ago, she opened The Dog Eared Book when the opportunity presented itself. Both Palmyra businesswomen love the proximity of their stores because they send a customer to their colleague in search of titles they may not stock. Each also sells book-themed items such as book jewelry at the Village Bookmarket or “nerdy” literary gifts at Dog Eared Book.

“In addition to supporting local authors I have a weakness for children’s books,” admitted Mancilla, a retired schoolteacher. She has just stocked the new children's book, "Imagine," featuring the lyrics from the iconic John Lennon tune.

A brand-new title at Canandaigua’s Paperback Place is The Sand Dollars Coloring Book, a book written and illustrated by owner McNeil. She created 20 sand-dollar-shaped patterns of butterflies, animals and other decorative images for adults to color and even trace onto an actual sand dollar.

What about eBooks?

“There’s a place for e-readers,” said Marsille. They often appeal to those who want to read a book using an enlarged font. Any eBook customers at the Canandaigua store can receive recommendations from McNeil via monthly emails to help them narrow the search for eBooks of interest.

“This is a grassroots alliance, and the participating stores have been very enthusiastic about working together,” said Deming of the month-long tour.

People do not need to go to all the shops to participate, but the more stores visited the greater the chance of winning a gift basket. Passports must be turned in to a participating bookshop by Oct. 31, 2017. Download a Passport and find store locations and hours at www.fallintobookstour.com.

 

Participating bookstores


Books, Etc.: Macedon
The Book Centre: Spencerport
Explore! The Bookstore: Clifton Springs
The Books Landing: Penn Yan
Greenwood Books: Rochester
The Dog Eared Book: Palmyra
Lift Bridge Book Shop: Brockport
The Paperback Place: Canandaigua
Mood Makers Books: Rochester
Village Bookmarket: Palmyra
Small World Books: Rochester
Yesterday’s Muse Books: Webster
Stomping Grounds: Geneva