Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: On the closing of Mr. Paperback

My bookstore has been in Farmington for 20 years and Mr. Paperback has been here for 39. Our two stores have some unique specialties, but we have always shared many things in common. We have always considered each other colleagues, and a compliment to each other, not competitors. We both have strongly supported Maine literature and local authors. We both energetically contributed our resources to the community through donations and outreach efforts. We have both hired local people and paid local taxes.

We at DDG view the closing of Mr. Paperback as a true sadness. It calls upon this community to appreciate the efforts and the contributions of the store over the years, and to consider what this means about the present and the future.

The physical book is neither dead nor dying. It is more important than ever. Real books have no share buttons, no chat links. The reader produces the book herself in the direct and perfect medium of her mind. At once both interactive and private, books are the ideal retreat, antidote, and source of balance in an increasingly digital world. Dire predictions about the future of bookselling are unfounded, not because they definitely won't happen, but because the positive economic actions we take to shop local and support the stores which support our communities do make a difference.

I do understand that some people prefer reading files over printed pages and that others think that price is all that matters, no matter what the cost. Their forecast that books, and local bookstores are doomed is neither surprising nor edifying. Those of us who do care deeply about books and the role of bookselling as a community institution will mark the closing of Mr. Paperback with both sadness and resolve.

Kenny Brechner
Farmington
DDG Booksellers

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26 Responses »

  1. Well stated Kenny. Supporting local merchants will help our community greatly in these hard economic times.

  2. Our entire family couldn't agree more - we have been grateful to have both DD & G and Mr. Paperback in our community and have tried to support our close-to-home booksellers over the years. I have fond memories of frequenting Mr. Paperback as a child and then a teenager - well before the advent of big-box booksellers, amazon ,etc... The more that the impersonal and anaonymous surrounds us, the more a treasure booksellers like DD & G and Mr. Paperback will become. Our family wishes you all success.

  3. Mr. Paperback will be missed--always a convenient stop when grocery shopping.

    I won't say I've never ordered from Amazon, but there is a huge difference between Amazon's automated recommendations for customers (based on one's browsing and purchase history) and walking into DD&G with my children and grandchildren and each one of us walking out with books that are personally meaningful--based on an informed and friendly chat with someone like you, Kenny.

    Your attitude of support for your fellow booksellers is admirable--and one that we (small business owners) should emulate to help each other thrive in this economy.

  4. It is unfortunate that economic times being what they are, cause our small businesses to fold. I am an on - line book store presently only selling through e bay because the financial crunch of my having a virtual storefront is also fiscally unsustainable.

    While I also embrace the advance of technology enabling me to obtain books that are readable on a thin table away from the pc and on the pc, holding a physical book be it in mint, virgin to me, or a well loved, dog-eared copy is a love that has been in my life since a tot of minuscule years. Having a medical disability makes an e reader a God send but also an ex library worker, watching the scorn for old media replaced solely as the only answer, is depressing.

    There is room for both, but this must be recognized by the public as well as producers. There are too many Mr. Paperbacks dying an unnecessary and untimely death. In the rubble of rippling pages lies our society.

  5. This is a big wake up call.

    No more online book orders for me. If there's a book I need that isn't in a local store I can look it up on Amazon and then pick up the phone and call Kenny at DD&G, who will then order it for me. Or go to the DD&G website and order there.

    There is just no substitute for a local bookstore.

    Mr. Paperback will be sorely missed. I wish the ladies there the best of luck. I hope we continue to see you employed in the area.

  6. Nice letter, Ken. I have a Kindle but still prefer a physical book that I can hold in my hand and stick a bookmark into, while sitting in a comfortable chair. Thanks for your presence in town.

  7. I can say I've never bought a book on Amazon. I've ordered them through Mr. Paperback. My children loved going in looking searching for the perfect book. Mr Paperback Bucks were wonderful treats for my children.

    My grandson loves going in to sit and pick from all the books.

    We will miss Mr. Paperback, but continue to shop local.

  8. I would like to thank both the staff at Mr Paperback and DD&G for their consideration of all my needs over the years. The folks at each store have treated me with great kindness, both as a customer and a vendor of my children's book, Libby's Loons.

    Any gift or personal book I requested, if not available in stock could and would be ordered and received in a most timely manner. If my immediate needs could not be met both stores would recommend the other book seller.

    Mr. Paperback will most certainly be missed by its customers but I hope that all will seek out our local book sellers rather than Amazon or the Big Box bookstores.

  9. Internet transactions are always a risk via identity theft (they usually want your credit card numbers, for example) or otherwise. If I'm looking for a book I want I may use the Internet to find it but I won't normally buy it on line. I'll go to Kenny and ask him to order it.

  10. Because I don't have a lot of extra money to buy books, I havne't been able to support mr. Paperback recently, but I sure have bought a lot of books there over the years. And I'll miss them. I sure hope the girls can find work around here.

  11. Using your credit card information online isn't riskier than using it in a restaurant or in a store, where it can be stolen easily. Also, most (all?) credit card companies will only hold you responsible for the first $50 of charges and some companies (Amazon, for example) waive that so you have no financial risk ordering online. ID theft is something different entirely.

    I'm not going to shop 100% local because Mr. Paperback closed and make no apologies for it. While I have a Kindle, I do not use it that much. The Kindle is convenient but often does not give the best price. When I buy a book, I look for the best price and Amazon usually has it. I wish I had the luxury of paying full (or close to full) price and spending what little money I've got all over town, but when given the option, I am going to support my financial needs over the financial needs of the local bookstore owner. Why would I go to the bookstore to order a book at full price when I can get it for significantly less online and delivered for free to my door? Just so I can relive the 1980's?

    Clearly, I do not have the answers. I agree with Kenny that this is not the end of the printed book. However, for the last decade, there has been a trend toward the end of communities being able to support multiple bookstores. Even with my Amazon habit, I still go to DDG and other bookstores to buy gifts, cards, toys, puzzles, and books (particularly children's). But not as much as I would if Amazon did not exist. That's the truth.

  12. WIthout a local book store I'd really be paying more -- for the gas it takes to drive to Barnes & Noble in Augusta!

  13. A local, non-chain bookstore has always been a treat, and I've long enjoyed visiting all three in the area: DDG, Twice Told Tales, and Mr. Paperback. I liked Mr. Paperback for books, calendars, Maine gifts, a wide array of magazines, carrying The New York Times, familiar faces of always friendly staff, and being right next to Hannaford. It's a real shame to lose it. I hope the genre doesn't die off with us elders; my daughter bought a Kindle and will never go back to print. Buying physical books, most printed in America, employs lots of people not needed for the electronic product: book pickers, book designers, those who specify and order the manufacturing, paper mills and paper and ink manufacturers, printers, binders, warehousers, inventory managers, wrappers, shippers, truckers, wholesalers, booksellers on bookstore floors, cashiers. Replacing all that with a downloaded book kills many jobs and many hours of pleasure perusing books on shelves, not reading a pre-chosen set of paragraphs on barnesandnoble.com. I'm sad for the owners of Mr. Paperback and all the customers who will have fewer places to savor the book.

  14. I know all the folks at Mr Paperback and wish them well. If anything good came out of this, it is the fact that the owner of the chain will no longer have an income. It all boils down to the fact that owners or stockholders want the money and if the computer says it is not a good thing, then they are quick to dump nice people over profits.

  15. I relied on Mr. Paperback for magazines. I'm sorry it is closing.

    Don't forget there is another book store in Farmington, Twice Sold Tales. There one can find collectable books now out of print.

  16. The closing of Mr.Paperback isn't the fault of Amazon or their Kindle, it is just today's economy. I know that I don't have alot of disposible income to spend on books. Therefore I visit my local library and yes Amazon.

  17. Shopping in a bookstore isn't just about supporting the store, whether it is a chain like Mr. Paperback or privately owned like DD&G. Its also about getting a personal connection with those other lovers of books. Yes Amazon can "suggest" books for you based on what you are browsing. However in a bookstore you can connect with another human being. You can see their reaction of a certain book. They can point in you in directions you may not have thought. There is also something about holding a book in your hand and flipping the pages. I love the smell of book and always have. I also personally love going to book stores. Yes you pay a little more. But by doing so you support the jobs of your neighbors. You support a business in your community. That little Hannaford mall is so sad looking now with both Fashion Bug gone and Mr. Paperback leaving. That should concern people. Seeing more and more stores shut down and more vacant space appear. All so we can say we saved a buck or two by ordering online. I don't think its something wonderful, ordering online. Half of the reason to shop at a store was to get out of the house and have some human interaction. With the internet trend people are now having their interactions from a computer or phone screen. We no longer need to pay attention to basic human contact. Its sad when we replace something so basic, like a book with yet another computer. Yes these book devices can carry many, many books in it at a time. I don't carry my entire book collection around in my bag. I carry the one I am reading at the time. Some of my books are smaller than my wallet. I always thought that local little shops were part of Farmington's charm. I thought it was awesome that they had not just one bookstore but three. If one didn't have it, another may. I have shopped in all three and will continue to shop at Twice Sold Tales and DD&G. I am an avid reader but I don't buy books often because I don't always have the extra money. So I try to find books at the public library. If I really enjoy the book and wish to read it again I will go to the store. I found a very obscure book that interested me. I found it on Amazon for $20 plus shipping. I went to the DD&G website and ordered it, costing me $14. I just had to leave my house and make a trip downtown. Well worth it. I love going there and the staff really cares about its patrons. That makes it worth going in. Support local as much as you can. You never know, someday Wal Mart may be the only store we have left in this town. I exaggerate, but people seem to like the "convenience" and effortless feature of online shopping.

  18. Yaknow,,,,,
    To each their own preference..

    But I just cant believe some of these folks dont "accept" that there is a connection between them using online/remote goods and services and local stores closing...
    Is this rocket science?

    If you "say" you like having a nice town to shop in,,,,
    but at the same time shop and send your money "away",,,,
    You cant have it both ways.

    btw,,,I haven't heard even ONE valid complaint that keeps people from shopping locally.
    Every "excuse" I have seen posted could have been easily solved,,,if they chose to.

    If you chose to shop away,,,,quit complaining about the local roads/shops/people.

  19. Why are you so angry? Every post of yours is angry about something. How about saying something positive?!

  20. Farmington has one of the best downtowns in Maine.
    We are very lucky to have it now and far into the future.
    It's a very special place.

    That's something positive that I really believe.

    Now,,,,,,,,,Your turn..
    Anything positive to add?

  21. Sure. Maine is a great place to live. We may be annoyed when business's close and the price at the gas stations rise, but we have a roof over our head, food on our table, and freedom to walk safely in our streets at night. These are freedoms that not everyone in this world get to have.

    I think healthy discussion is a great freedom as well,. Healthy, not angry.

    Instead of being aware of the thorn in your side, try being aware of the beautiful sunrise. There are many things we take for granted. There are many things we miss out on simply because we are focused too much on the negative.

  22. @@to each their own...
    Zen, babushka, Zen!
    :-)

  23. There is nothing like holding a book and flipping pages. We still have two book stores in town. Let's all shop locally during these tough times.

  24. It is amazing to me how many vehicles I now see in the parking lot of Mr. Paperback. If even half of these customers had supported the store before the going out of business anouncement and the accompanying sales it would still be a vital business. Circling vultures are a sad sight.

  25. I couldn't agree more Cynic.

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