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Monday, February 11, 2013

Longfellow Books Undaunted by Snowstorm Damage

Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine sustained significant damage to their stock during this weekend's snowstorm, but are optimistic about reopening by Valentine's Day. Co-owner Chris Bowe was interviewed in The Portland Press Herald, and explained that the store sustained serious water damage during Saturday's storm after a frozen water line burst, but added that firefighters' efforts to save thousands of books will allow the store to reopen.

Firefighters covered the books with large tarps normally used to cover items salvaged at fire scenes. They also carried books outside to keep them from getting soaked.

"When I got there, they had already broken in a side door," Bowe said. "There were maybe 20 of them, and they were amazing. Instead of standing around and letting the water fall, they were carrying books to safety.  I couldn't believe how fast they worked to save the books. They saved an enormous amount of stock."

"It was a reverse 'Fahrenheit 451,'" Bowe said, referring to Ray Bradbury's 1953 science fiction classic, in which books are outlawed and burned by firemen.

On Saturday night, after they reported on Facebook that they were closing the store indefinitely, nearly 200 customers wrote responses, many of them offering to help or organize fundraising events.

Bowe said he plans to open the store by Thursday night, when the store will host a special Valentine's Day reading. He doesn't know how much of the damage his insurance will cover, but he is confident that the store can rebound.

"Never underestimate the power of an independent bookstore," he said. "We have survived the chains. We have survived Amazon. We have survived the Kindles. The bookstore is one of those good places in the community. We will struggle, but we will get there."

With that kind of resolve, I am confident Longfellow Books will get there as well.

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