by Edward Nawotka -- Publishers Weekly, 9/3/2008 9:00:00 AM
As bookstores in New Orleans slowly start to re-open after Hurricane Gustav, some booksellers along the Gulf Coast that were outside the immediate area affected by the storm reported a more mixed picture.
Russ Adams, owner of Bienville Books in Mobile, Ala., said that the mandatory evacuation of New Orleans meant more customers coming into the story as they fled the hurricane. Adams’ store experienced minor water damage in the attic due to the storm and lost some ceiling tiles.
Dale Julian, owner of Down Town Books in Apalachicola, Fla. echoed Adam’s observation that there were more customers with Louisiana accents coming into his store, though that was balanced out with a slight downturn in normal weekend traffic. “I think the Weather Channel scared people off,” he said. Though Julian sent his staff into “battle stations” – taking everything out of his windows and raising all stock up off the floor – there was no damage to his store from the storm.
As of Tuesday morning, many bookstores along the Gulf Coast in areas hit by the storm remained temporarily closed. Calls to booksellers in New Orleans were not answered, as the booksellers are likely still waiting for permission to reenter the city following the mandatory evacuation.
Borders reported having closed three Borders stores in Louisiana and another seven Waldenbooks outlets, as far east as Tallahassee and Key West, Fla. Most have reopened, or will reopen today.
The answering machine at the Barnes & Noble in Gulfport, Miss. indicated the store was closed on Tuesday, but would reopen Wednesday. A call to the Books-A-Million outlet in Biloxi was not answered yesterday.