Gordon College News Service
January 20, 2010
Eleven years ago owner Mark Stolle opened the doors of his shop Manchester by the Book. Although the name was not his favorite, the store has since become a staple in the community where residents view it as a place to rest, relax, enjoy a book—or two—and an interesting conversation.
Like most small businesses on the North Shore, Manchester by the Book in the center of Manchester by the Sea, MA, started small an idea and some books from Stolle’s parent’s basement.
“I saved everything I made to buy books,” Stolle said. “I went to estates sales, garage sales, used book stores, library sales, you name it.” After three years he had enough to open.
Now the shop holds over 15,000 books from antique to shiny and new, piled to the ceiling and on shelves that create a maze-like effect. At his desk, Stolle’s head bobs up and down in the sea of hard and paperback companions. Giraffes are painted on the wall of the children’s section, a generous gift painted on the day he opened by a teacher and her husband whose names Stolle now can’t remember.
The books, their prices and their subjects are as diverse as the homes they came from. Prices range from $0.00 to the thousands. “The books we have for free are hidden around and its just like a treat if you find it,” said employee Jade Weston, a frequent customer at the store before Stolle hired her to help.
The ambiance and reputation in Manchester by the Book are the primary reasons why, despite the economy, Stolle’s business continues to thrive. The store hosts a number of community events as well as a book club, dessert nights, author readings and a poetry contest for valentines.
“Our efforts aim at making a cultural community center, sort of your living room away from home,” said Weston.
Even with technological changes like electronic books such as the Kindle or Nook, the shop has seen steady business.
“Kindle is nothing,” said Stolle.“Kindle was made for the non-reader who will read what, like three best sellers in a year?” According to Stolle, such devices can’t replace the overall ‘magic’ that happens when reading a book and holding it in your hand.
“(Everything from) the aesthetics, the cover, the feel of the pages, the typeface, being able to put a book down and pick it up five minutes later, are all a part of the reading experience,” said Stolle, who believes the novelty of electronic books will wear off and they too will find their place on the shelf.
And Stolle doesn’t see other bookstores like Barnes and Noble or Borders as competition. Instead he says, “Anything that helps book culture, helps my business.”
For Stolle the store’s success is simple: he loves what he does. “I am a voracious reader and I was willing to have a muffin and a coffee for breakfast for 11 years.”
For more information on upcoming events visit www.manchesterbythebook.com