‘The reports of the demise of books were greatly exaggerated’

You’re reading The Express, BDN Portland’s free evening newsletter. To have it delivered to your inbox every evening, text PORTLAND to 66866.

What we’re talking about

Richard Russo, Emily Russo and Josh Christie at Print: A Bookstore. It opens on Congress Street Tuesday.

Richard Russo, Emily Russo and Josh Christie at Print: A Bookstore. It opens on Congress Street Tuesday.

Emily Russo, daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo, and partner Josh Christie, are opening Portland’s fourth independent bookstore Tuesday.

It might seem like books are going the way of CDs, but sales are actually up, according to the Association of American Publishers. In the first 10 months of 2015, e-book sales in the country fell 12.3 percent and paperback book sales grew 12.4 percent. And across the country, indie bookstores are making a comeback.

Inside Print: A Bookstore, “the reports of the demise of books were greatly exaggerated,” said Richard Russo, taking a break from stocking shelves Monday to paraphrase Mark Twain. “A new generation of entrepreneurs are putting their faith in print.”

The store opens on Congress Street Tuesday afternoon (it being a “soft opening,” the owners were vague about the actual open time.)

The two owners have 20 years of independent bookstore experience together — Emily Russo worked at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn and Odyssey Bookshop in western Massachusetts, and Christie worked locally at Sherman’s Books and Stationery in Freeport and Portland.

In the store, Anna Kendrick’s new book, “Scrappy Little Nobody,” shares space with Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.” Books on beer, cocktails, cookies and Vietnamese cuisine “reflect the taste of our food-obsessed community,” said Emily Russo. Think “The Joy of Cooking” and Questlove’s “Something to Food About” lining three book cases.   

A regular author series also is in the works, and the pair hopes to attract writers to Portland for readings in greater droves.

“It’s been hard to get writers north of Boston,” said Emily Russo, who hopes to change that.

Her father, she admits, has some pull.    

“When I first started out it was a thrill to see my book in any window,” said Richard Russo, the author of “Empire Falls.”  “To be in my daughter’s bookstore … it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Print: A Bookstore opens Tuesday at 273 Congress St. in Portland. A grand opening is planned for from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. — Kathleen Pierce

In other news

A Commercial Street lumber company is closing after 162 years in business — J. Craig Anderson and Matt Byrne of the Press Herald report that Rufus Deering Lumber will close the end of the month after selling its property.

Rita Ferris, president of the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association, said the current business environment for independently owned lumberyards is challenging, with heavy competition from big-box stores such as Home Depot, as well as from each other. As a result, independents have been buying up their smaller competitors and consolidating.

“It’s just tough out there in the industry,” she said.

But Ferris said Rufus Deering decided to sell because the property on which the business sits has become such prime real estate that it is essentially too valuable not to sell.

“They’re sort of like the little house that the big city grew up around,” she said. “It was really a matter of when the right opportunity came along.”

The cheapest turkey in decades — This year’s Thanksgiving feast will be the least expensive in more than 30 years, when adjusted for inflation, MPBN’s Jennifer Mitchell reports. Across the country, food prices have been dropping. But here in Portland, the savings will be less noticeable since Mainers pay 30 percent more than the national average for groceries.

South Portland is still feeling the Bern — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders stopped by a bookstore in South Portland Monday to promote his new book, “Our Revolution,” and urge his still staunch political supporters to battle despite the election being over, Joe Lawlor of the Press Herald reports. “No, you’re not going to give up,” Sanders reportedly said. “You’re going to fight back and mobilize.”

The Big Idea

Theranos Whistleblower Shook the Company — and His Family’ — Tyler Shultz wanted to protect the reputation of his grandfather, former Secretary of State George Shultz. What he did would tear apart their relationship and topple a $9 billion company.


Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.