After putting thousands of independent bookstores out of business in the 1990s, the giant chain has been undermined by the rise of ebooks and the success of Amazon.com and other online booksellers. The remaining independents are less affected by the digital trend, says Kellachan, because “Community bookstores have lots of different relationships with the community. They offer personal service, hold events, support local authors.” She and her husband are looking forward to continuing the community bookstore tradition at the Golden Notebook.
Owners Ellen Shapiro and Barry Samuels had put the store up for sale after 30 years of operation, but no one was buying. Woodstockers were devastated by the potential loss of the town’s one remaining bookstore offering new, general-interest titles. Kellachan and McMenemy came in at the eleventh hour, initiating discussions with Shapiro and Samuels in the weeks before the store’s Labor Day closing.
Their rescue of the business has received plenty of enthusiasm from the community. “Everyone is so excited and supportive,” Kellachan reports. “People really loved the Woodstock bookstore and Ellen and Barry, and you hear that.”
The mother of three boys, she adds, “It’s like when you’re pregnant, and people say, ‘Oh, it’s so great! But you know…’ They want to make sure we’ll still accept their Gold Card certificates.”
In fact, they expect to make few changes, aside from moving the children’s section, formerly housed next door in the Golden Bough, into the back of the store. “We also plan to increase our electronic presence with a blog and website,” Kellachan notes, “and we hope to make it easier for anyone interested to find the Woodstock section — books on our music, history, and books by local authors.”
Kellachan and McMenemy have owned a home in the town since 1996, moving up full-time from New York City in 2005. He works in finance and is a partner in a renewable energy company. She has worked as an epidemiologist for the City and then the New York State Department of Health for the past 15 years. Weary of the commute to Albany, she quit on September 24 and will be working full-time in the bookstore.
“It’s a big change,” she admits. “I’m going to have a steep learning curve.” On the other hand, there are similarities with her former career that will carry over. “I’ve had challenging situations to deal with, and I’ve had to relate to a lot of different people. Also, I’ve always loved books and always cherished neighborhood bookstores in the different parts of New York that I lived in, as well as up here.” In 2001, at Woodstock’s first poetry festival, she had been impressed by the events that the Golden Notebook offered.
Now, she says, “For the first time in 30 years, there’s nothing at all in the store, so we’re renovating.” Shapiro and Samuels had sold off much of their stock. Some books they were able to return to the publishers or distributors. The new owners purchased what was left, but before filling the shelves again, they have been redoing the floor and painting the walls.
Meanwhile, Kellachan is ordering books, with the help of Gaela Pearson, who formerly ran the children’s bookstore and will continue to work full-time at the Golden Notebook. “Gaela knows the community well,” says Kellachan. “And all the publishing companies have reps with long relationships with the store, and we go through their lists.” Kellachan expects to become intimately familiar with local tastes, which lean toward literary fiction and contemporary non-fiction. Due to the high-profile local music scene, music biographies and histories have also been big sellers.
“The store has a great database, so you can see what’s sold in the past,” says Kellachan. “We’re going to try to make everybody happy.”
They also expect to continue the practice of holding literary events, beginning with a kickoff reading on the eve of their October 29 opening. Wordstock Salon will be held on Thursday, October 28, from 6:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m. at the Kleinert/James Gallery, across the street from the bookstore. Author Shalom Auslander will be joined by locally based authors Martha Frankel, Abigail Thomas, and Alison Gaylin will read excerpts from their works, and Jim Handlin will read original poetry. Actors Robert Burke Warren and Sharon Breslau will perform selected short fiction. Admission to the event is $10, and includes wine and hors d’oeuvres. Tickets will be available in advance by calling The Golden Notebook at 845-679-8000 and will be sold at the door on the evening of the event.
Starting Saturday, October 29, The Golden Notebook will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The store is located at 29 Tinker Street in Woodstock. For information, call (845) 679-8000, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at www.goldennotebook.com. ++
Ghostgirl – “the kind of girl no one would ever miss if she died tomorrow…and then she did,” as the book series’ promo videos go — is a media phenomenon about to hit the area just before Halloween as Woodstock prepares to meet its new booksellers. Talk about timing!
“Ever feel invisible? Charlotte Usher did,” intones the voice of a Burtonesque waife, all Goth-eyed and sepulchral, on the ghostgirl.com website that centers this risen world. “Teased by classmates, overlooked by teachers, beneath contempt of the popular and ignored by Damen, the guy of her dreams, she barely registered on the radar at Hawthorne High…The End? Not exactly...”
Tonya Hurley, who previously co-created and co-produced the sitcom So Little Time and animated series Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action!, both starring the Olsen twins at their trendsetting prime, and introduced the three bestselling Ghostgirl novels and audio book series (starring Parker Posey) in 2008, will be reading 9 a.m.-noon at the Woodstock Day School Monday, October 25, and then Onteora Middle School, 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. Monday, October 25. Both events will be presented by the newly re-opened Golden Notebook, where she will stop by after the Onteora event, for photos and to greet the public.
The next day, Tuesday, October 26, Hurley will read at 7 p.m. at the Barnes and Noble Store at 1177 Ulster Avenue Mall in Kingston.++