In recent years we may have seen the rise of electronic readers but according to a 2016 study released by the Pew Research Center, print book are still way more popular among American readers versus their mobile counterparts. That's good news for bookstores such as White Birch Books of North Conway, which has been the town's local independent bookstore for nearly a quarter century.
"White Birch Books is a local independent bookstore that services our local community as well as the many visitors to the area," says owner Laura Cummings. "We've been here for 24 years and counting. Our staff is friendly, personable and engaging. We all love what we do and I think it shows everyday."
The bookstore is set back from the town's main street, right next to Conway Scenic Railroad, in a quirky building featuring a porch and tower. Upon entering, Cummings says that the first thing new visitors usually exclaim is, "Wow, I didn't know this place was so big." The store carries all of the latest bestsellers and popular reads as well as a children's section and a greeting card area. And being situated in the beautiful White Mountains region of the state, a special section is dedicated to material about the local area and by local authors.
"We try to offer a little bit of everything here at the store, but we do have our definite strengths," explains Cummings. "We live in an area known for its natural beauty and history, so we have very vital local and outdoor sections, including local history books, hiking and climbing guides and nature guides. We are also all voracious readers here, so almost every section has staff recommendations. In addition to all the newly released books, we also carry bargain priced books, a small selection of used books and local collectible books as well."
For bargain hunters, the store keeps a running display of the top ten list from the national Indie Bestseller list that feature discounted prices. There is also a large selection of bargain priced books as well as gently used reads and the store occasionally holds special sales.
To help foster relationships between other reading enthusiasts, the store proudly hosts two book clubs: one on Thursday evenings, and a Mystery Book Club that discusses mystery and thrillers. White Birch Books also hosts many events such as author evenings, poetry readings, classes, and more.
No matter how much our world may get altered by technology, reading will probably never go out of style. Cummings believes everyone needs to be reading now, more than ever. "Reading is important for so many reasons, but for basic reasons I think it helps develop your mind, introduce you to new things and expand your imagination," she says. "It is even more crucial now as there seem to be so many divides in our society?reading a good book is one very easy way to get a look into another culture, another country or another experience. It appears we could all use a little more broadening of the mind."