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Maine Coast Book Shop Owner Addresses Bristol Area Lions Club 03/14/2012

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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A Maine Coast Book Shop website photo

At its most recent meeting the Bristol Area Lions Club welcomed Susan Porter, owner of Maine Coast Book Shop and Café, who traced the history of the business and shared some of the challenges faced by independent bookstores in today’s economic climate.

Susan got her start at the Brunswick Bookland in the 1970s, where she found her calling and learned the multiple facets of the book-selling business. By the 1980s she was an employee at Maine Coast Bookshop, eventually buying out the owner who had hired her as a bookseller.

The business had operated in various locations in downtown Damariscotta since 1964 and had survived through various recessions, but Porter admitted that the rise of chain bookstores presented the largest challenge to her as a new business owner at that time.

Fortunately, she added, the support of the local community mitigated many of those challenges and by 2000, she and her husband were able to buy out her business partners and purchase the building which Maine Coast Bookshop and Café currently occupies.

According to Porter, the financial meltdown of 2008, combined with the rise of online websites for books and the advent of the e-reader has presented the most serious challenge to the physical book.

Seeing bookstores fail all around the United States, Susan consulted with others in the profession and became energized to keep Maine Coast Book Shop open and thriving. That has taken enormous creativity, and the results since then have been positive. One can now purchase books on the bookstore’s website, http://www.mainecoastbookshop.com.

Sidelines like children’s art supplies, book lights, and Kenyan tea are now available at the store. Collaborations with other local businesses, Skidompha Library, and Lincoln Theater are helping too, along with more book signings and readings at the store.

Porter added that having a great staff in a great location is key. Such efforts have not gone unnoticed; in 2008, Maine Coast Book Shop and Café was named the New England Book Store of the Year by the Book Publishers’ Representatives of New England.

Lion John Janell thanks Susan Porter for her presentation on the Maine Coast Book Shop and Café.

In the business meeting that followed Susan Porter’s talk, Lion Bill Crider was recognized for 25 years of service to the Bristol Area Lions Club. The annual Elmer Tarr Roadside Clean Up, with help from PWA volunteers and several scout groups, will take place on Saturday, April 21.

At the next meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club, on Monday, March 19, Lieutenant Rand Maker of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office will discuss the services they provide to the community. To make dinner reservations for that meeting, please call 677-6191. To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, serving Bristol and South Bristol, contact John Janell at 563-7402.

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