LIVINGSTON MANOR, NY — More than one 100 friends and customers crammed into the Hamish & Henry Booksellers store in Livingston Manor on December 30, to share food, door prizes and to show appreciation for the independent bookstore that served the community for seven years.
Owners Sue Barnett and Jeff Christensen opened the store in July 2004 as a small renaissance was sweeping the hamlet and the county. “It’s been a great seven years,” Barnett said.
Owning a bookstore is a difficult undertaking in a rural area such as Sullivan County, one that was made even harder with the downturn in the economy and the advancement of technology.
Barnett said, “It got harder as the e-books took over. I think if it was just the economy, we would struggle through. But 20% of the market has already gone to the e-books; it’s supposed to be about 30% by next year. We live in a small community and when you lose 30% of your market to technology, there’s no way of surviving. So we’re like Tower Records; we’re a casualty of new technology.”
With a large selection of books still on the shelves, the store won’t officially close until sometime in March. Barnett said, “We have a lot of books to get rid of and books to donate.”
But Barnett and Christensen will stay in the community. They will open a nonprofit event space in a former Laundromat. Barnett said, “We were thinking if we can’t sell books, we like the community that the bookstore creates, so we wanted to keep the community space together.”