HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran
After Borders . . . Books, Nooks & Crannies
One of the saddest days of this past summer was closing day at Borders. The powers-that-be in the huge nationwide chain evidently counted the beans and decided that their Hilo store was not selling enough books (or audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, knickknacks, or coffee drinks) to meet its quota.
The store’s local management and staff were let go – the decision to close was not theirs to make. And those of us on Borders’ email news list got an unpleasant surprise when someone in the chain’s marketing team sent emails urging us to simply take our business to the “nearest” Borders. That, of course, is in Kailua-Kona, over 100 miles away.
Borders was the only full-service new-book bookstore in Hilo: meaning, that’s where you had to go for the latest Harry Potter or Steig Larsen books. The magazine rack there was very comprehensive, if somewhat confusing (they shelved High Times under “entertainment”). The café served snacks and coffee drinks on a par with Starbucks, and likewise provided free wi-fi service.
The Hilo store was, for many local families, an important gathering place where parents and children alike could browse through books and magazines. Okay, maybe they didn’t buy everything they read or handled there; but as a friend with a 10-year-old explained, it was a wholesome place to take kids, that could actually inspire youngsters to appreciate the printed word.
Fortunately, the reading public of East Hawaii will be served. The oldest established bookstore in Hilo is Basically Books, on Kam Avenue, downtown, which specializes in Hawaiiana. (It’s also home to Petroglyph Press, the best-known publishing house on the island for books of local interest.) There is still also The Book Gallery on Keawe St. And used-book stores remain active – one in a downtown storefront on Kilauea Ave. at Mamo St; two in the “industrial” area: one on Leilani St. just off Kanoelehua St., and the other on Maka’ala St. at Kawili St. And there’s a remarkably well stocked used-book store on the main street in Pahoa.
But the big news for local bibliophiles is that a new new-book store has just opened. It’s called Books, Nooks, & Crannies, and it’s in the first block of Waianuenue Ave., just mauka of Kam Ave.
Independent bookstores, nationwide, are suffering under the twin assaults of chain stores (like Borders) and online retailers (most famously, Amazon). So, opening one these days is clearly a labor of love – in this case, by local attorney Robert Marks, who is pleased to note that, besides carrying new books and best-sellers, his store also has a small café. And FYI, Marks purchased the shelves and display stands for Books, Nooks & Crannies from … you guessed it: the defunct Hilo Borders.