February 12, 2013

How to help Longfellow? 'Buy books'

The Portland bookstore's popularity has sparked an outpouring of offers to help it recover from massive storm damage.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Chris Bowe, co-owner of Longfellow Books in Portland, says that each of the 30,000 books in the store will have to be looked at to see which have suffered water damage after a pipe burst in the bookstore over the weekend.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer:

click image to enlarge

Water damaged books are piled on a chair in Longfellow Books in Portland on Monday, February 11, 2013. The bookstore had a frozen sprinkler pipe burst over the weekend.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

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When Bowe heard about the fire, he contacted Bodwell and offered to host a book-signing event, featuring dozens of Maine writers, to benefit Thayer. It was scheduled during one of Portland's busiest First Friday Art Walks, in June.

When Thayer heard about the flood at the bookstore, she figured the least she could do was return the favor. She contacted Bodwell right away, asking what she could do to help.

"They are stalwarts of the community," Thayer said. "They were incredible to us. They helped us raise several thousand dollars. It's almost hard to believe that things can be done quickly and amazingly well if a bunch of people get behind it. We certainly saw it, and I think the bookstore will see it as well."

Bowe expressed appreciation for the "overwhelming" volume of messages and gestures of support that he and his business partner, Stuart Gersen, have received since the flood.

"I've been here 13 years. I know a lot of people," he said Monday as blue tarps covered shelves and tables of books and as industrial-strength drying fans whirred in the aisles. "But I never realized what this store means to people until this weekend. Ultimately, we're a retail store. You can get our products anywhere. But people seem to love our store."

Bowe and Bodwell traded emails Monday about how the community can respond. Bowe said he doesn't oppose the idea of a fundraiser, but he isn't looking for a handout.

He agreed with Bodwell about the best way for people to help: "By doing what they always do. By allowing us to be their bookseller," he said. "Support us by buying books."

 

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes

 

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