May 27, 2024

MDI bookstore Port in a Storm to close next month

MOUNT DESERT – A small, independently owned bookstore that has been a mainstay in the scenic village of Somesville for more than a dozen years is closing its doors.

Port in a Storm bookstore will close Jan. 18, owner Jan Coates said Monday. She said she has owned the store, which was founded by Linda Lewis in 1992, since 1999.

Coates cited changes in the bookselling and publishing businesses as the reason for the closure. The Internet has been a factor, she said, but so has competition from larger retail chains.

“Everybody is selling books,” Coates said. “You have to constantly adapt and be creative. There are only so many things you can control.”

Coates said she is not sure whether to continue running Portside, a smaller, seasonal sister bookshop in Bernard. She said Port in a Storm would hold an open house and customer appreciation day on Dec. 14.

Five people work part-time at the bookstore in the winter, the owner said. The hours increase during the busy summer tourist season to include three full-time jobs and five part-time, she said.

The bookstore, wedged between Route 102 and the ocean inlet of Somes Sound, has functioned as a cultural gathering spot as well as a bookstore. Authors who have read from their works in the two-story store include Richard Russo, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anne River Siddons and David Rockefeller, to name a few. Earlier in its run, the store also held midwinter movie nights.

Coates said she has no regrets.

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” she said. “One goes into the book industry because you love books. It’s been a struggle of the head and the heart.”


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