Sunday, February 16, 2014

Paperbacks Plus! An Amazing Bookstore

Interview with Pat Dawson, owner of Paperbacks Plus!

1. How did you come to own a bookstore and when?

I have owned Paperbacks Plus! For the past 17 years.  When the original owner decided to close the store, she held a going out of business sale.  During the last week of the sale my husband, Jim, and I drove by, saw the sale sign, went inside and bought books…lots of books.  Driving home Jim, the smart guy, said “You should have just bought the whole store.  So I immediately replied, “Okay,” drove home, called and bought a bookstore over the phone.  

2. Have you enjoyed it?  Why?

I don’t think enjoy really expresses how much I love being here.  I love the delight on a new customer’s face when they discover the wide range of genres we stock, as well as calling an existing customer when that perfect book for them comes in.  I enjoy the “treasure hunt” of looking for and finding great books for the store….and getting to read them before they can be placed in the store.

3. How do you keep the bookstore afloat in a difficult economy?

Independent bookstores always struggle.  By listening to customers, by keeping up with and hopefully ahead of new popular series and authors as well as the well-loved classics the store is always evolving.  Recently a new addition to the store has opened.  The Cheap Book Nook has taken over the entire back room and all of the hundreds of books there are $1.00. Our policy of accepting trade-ins, giving store credit or buying outright also help our customers by allowing them to purchase large amounts of books for little money.  In addition to local authors’ books I also carry a variety of North Carolina items made by one of the local authors and by local artists/craftspeople from time to time.  Locally produced honey has become a surprisingly popular addition.

4. Give us an idea of the variety of your customers and what sorts of books they want?

The customers are as varied as the types of book they are looking for:  Locals, regulars from Raleigh and further, out of town visitors, old, young and all ages in between.  What they all have in common is a great love for books and bookstores.  If the book they are looking for is not in, I can order a new copy or add their request to my “Book of the Holy Grail” list to search for a used copy.

5. Tell us about your schemes for getting attention to the store, the books, and the local authors?

Where to start?  Nights with local bands playing at the store, cake tastings, beer tasting, arts & craft exhibits, Holiday Bazaars with over 30 vendors, Buy Local night, Wholistic Health event for humans and animals, pet adoption, Santa at Christmas, Chili Cook Off, Irish night and the Siler City Farmers’ Market Mini Market during the winter months.  Believe it or not, in between all this, hundreds of book signings have been held over the years with both local and non-local authors.  The effort and enthusiasm that authors put into these is always appreciated.  They are here with good weather, bad weather, crowds of people or an intimate showing.  Newspaper articles, Facebook, my email list, networking, flyers and good old fashioned word of mouth helps to spread the news of these events.

6. I participated in your Local Author Showcase in 2013, and you certainly worked hard for us.  Why?

The Showcase was the culmination of an idea I had been kicking around for awhile.  There are so many amazing authors right here in our area that don’t have an outlet to share their work and so many readers who have no idea of the talent here.    I always found reasons to delay.  Finding authors, renting a venue, coordinating everyone, advertising, food for the authors and guests...until one day I thought “Do it or don’t do it….and that is how the Showcase was born.

7. What are the advantages to you of owning a bookstore?

Talking with the good friends who visit and enjoying being surrounded by the world of books.

8. Are you ever bored when you’re tending the store?

Never -- although the myth of me being able to sit and read all day with an open box of bon-bons is greatly exaggerated, I can assure you.

9. Give us the hours and days that you’re open.

Wednesday 9:00AM – 1:00 PM.  Thursday and Friday 12:00AM – 5:30 PM.  Saturday 10:30AM – 5:00 PM.

10. Tell us a little about you, your interests, native of Siler City or where?

I grew up I a small Texas town much like Siler City, could not wait to leave and then spent long years trying to get back to a small town.   I lived in New York for a few years, and then moved to Maryland where I was in property management for 10 years.  My husband, Jim, being from North Carolina, wanted to move back home, and in 1992 we arrived.  After vowing never to be a “corporate body” again I worked first at the Bynum General Store and Post Office, then at an orchard greenhouse until that fateful day we drove past Paperbacks Plus!  

My two passions in life have always been reading and animals.  In first grade I was reading Nancy Drew, girl detective, while everyone else read Dick and Jane.  I had a collection of dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, chickens, horses, cows, moles, squirrels, raccoons and anything that crossed my path as a pet growing up.  Currently I am owned by Lili Ann the Siamese cat who appeared mysteriously in a locked Paperbacks Plus! one morning.  My other co-owner is Abby, a Shiloh Shepherd, who is a popular worker at the store.  You have to have a strong ego when people call or drop by for Abby and then promptly hang up or leave if she isn’t in that day. Now if I could just teach her to shelve books.

11. How has owning a bookstore enriched or changed your life in good ways?

After reading the above, I think all the ways my life has been enriched and blessed are so evident.  After 17 years I am looking forward to many, many more years and new friends.
Stop in and visit.

1 comment:

  1. Pat, I love independent book stores, and yours sounds like one of the best. I have one not too far from me, but although she has two floors - basement and the main floor, it's much too small to have anything like a band, even though she's a talented musician. If I ever get down there to visit Judy, your store is one of the places I want her to take me.