Stillwater Books, the first bookstore in Pawtucket for many years, opens with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:45am, Thursday, Mar 1. Located at 175 Main St on the corner of Roosevelt Ave, in the same building as the visitor center for the Blackstone Valley National Historic Corridor and the RIPTA Pawtucket Transit Hub, it is across the street from Slater Mill and a short distance off I-95 via exit 28. Plentiful free parking is available in the visitor center lot as well as in the lot across from City Hall.
Owners Steven and Dawn Porter plan a grand opening weekend Mar 17-18, but will keep regular hours after the Mar 1 ribbon cutting. The store will carry all 125 current titles from their own Stillwater River Press, which provides services to help authors self-publish (and whose offices will be relocating to the store). New releases and best sellers will be available, but about three-fourths of the inventory will be a curated selection of heavily discounted remainders and high-quality used books.
Asked whether this is a market niche that has to be brick-and-mortar local, Steven Porter said, “You can buy anything on the web, but you’ve got to know what you want. If you know you want a specific book – a specific author, specific title – you can go to the internet, you can go to Amazon, you can go to a variety of other sites.”
He is optimistic about the future of bookstores. “The independent stores that have survived are good merchants; the bad merchants left and got pushed under. Bookstores bring a lot of things to a community: that literary presence, that intellectual presence – it’s good for every town to have one, but it’s also a business and a lot of these independents were more into their mission than they were into their business, and they didn’t make it. Tides have turned a little bit, and the independent stores that are out there now all seem to be very well run and very efficiently run.”
The Porters founded the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA), a non-profit organization now including over 340 published local authors and best known for its annual December book expo at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston that in 2017 attracted 135 sellers and about 1,300 buyers. The Porters, both published authors themselves (Confessions of the Meek and the Valiant, Manisses, Searching for Rhode Island), said they invite all local authors to sell their books at the store, regardless of publisher.
Community events, including author readings and signings, are planned over the coming months and will be announced as they are scheduled, the Porters said.
Event info: facebook.com/events/1716711071683508