BookHampton, Facing Slow Sales, Asks Community To Each Buy One Book

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BookHampton is asking everyone to buy at least one book.

The locally owned bookstore in East Hampton Village, which has been around for more than 45 years, may face the tough decision to close if there isn’t a turnaround in sales, according to owner Charline Spektor.

A letter was sent out this week to everyone on the bookstore’s mailing list, saying the company is “fighting to have one more summer” because of a long, cold winter and the already harsh climate for brick-and-mortar bookstores.

In the letter she asks everyone to pitch in, book by book.

“As I tried to find one more answer, the brilliant metaphor of the great writer Anne LaMott came to mind,” Ms. Spektor’s letter reads, quoting the story “Bird By Bird”:

“My brother was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day … he was at the kitchen table, close to tears … immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

Reached on Monday, Ms. Spektor wouldn’t specify the financial burdens the company has, but said that these days people are more likely to hop on the internet than walk in her door. “When people see a book that people are reading, or when they see a book in The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, or the press, a reflex takes them to the computer, and then their computer reflex takes them to Amazon.com,” she said. “People need to direct that reflex to either email or call BookHampton.”

She said that BookHampton, which has three locations, in East Hampton Village, which was the first to open, Southampton Village, and Mattituck, is a community bookstore, and that the dollars earned at BookHampton stay in the community. “Support for any number of things comes from BookHampton and doesn’t come from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Walmart,” she said. “We are in the community, and we know more about books than any other bookstore in the country.”

BookHampton has served as a spot for readings and performances by award-winning authors, Pulitzer Prize-winners, Nobel Peace Prize-winners, and actors like Alec Baldwin, Gwyneth Paltrow and Julianne Moore.

Ms. Spektor said BookHampton has been the center of literature on Long Island. “It would be a huge loss if we weren’t an active participant in our neighborhood,” she said.

BookHampton’s Sag Harbor Village store closed in the winter of 2013 to eventually move to a new spot there with more foot traffic. Ms. Spektor said it hasn’t happened yet, but they’re still seeking a new place.

She said the Southampton and Mattituck stores are doing well, and that the North Fork seems to be embracing the bookstore with open arms.

She said, however, it is imperative that the community continue to help support a community business, or it will go belly-up.

“It isn’t that we’re standing with our hat in our hand,” she said. “If you know your neighbors are buying books and your friends are buying books, we want to remind them when they think of a book, think of BookHampton. If you’re going to buy a book, it should come from the bookstore.”

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