The fact that developer Steve Duprey has another project in the works isn’t terribly surprising. What is rather intriguing about his latest venture–a 70,000 square foot, five floor edifice on South Main Street in Concord–is one of the slated tenants: A much-expanded Gibson’s Bookstore. Ben Leubsdorf of the Concord Monitor writes:
Two points about Duprey’s remarks (and reported remarks) are interesting. The first is the fact that a big-box bookstore–Borders–was considered a “community” space in the mid-sized locale of Concord. After all, the big box model is predicated on the notion that the store in Concord could just as easily be the store in Manchester or the store in St. Louis. And as for Duprey’s Borders-as-community-gathering-place comment…that’s been a key argument made by independent booksellers against patronizing large chain stores. That’s the indie sellers’ niche. So the notion that Gibson’s will fill the void in the community left by Borders flips the script of the old national David vs. Goliath narrative. (Although admittedly, that narrative has altered as Goliath turned out to have a rather fragile constitution when pitted against the e-reader revolution.)
“Duprey said he’s particularly excited to have Gibson’s Bookstore in his new building, a move he said would restore the community meeting place that was lost last year when Borders went bankrupt. The former Borders on Fort Eddy Road is now a Books-A-Million.
Bookstore owner Michael Herrmann’s expansion, Duprey said, is ‘a huge commitment to replacing what was lost when Borders was closed. It is a remarkable commitment to the downtown, instead of a mall. And for an independent bookseller to do that, it’s just a great move for this community. It will help anchor downtown.’”
The second point Duprey’s comments bring up is another place where Concord’s bookstore runs counter to the long-running national narrative: The independent bookseller as endangered species. Not only is indie seller Gibson’s filling the void left by Border’s (where Books-A-Million has failed?)…it’s also, apparently, doing well enough to expand its downtown business.