Book business survives despite odds
Stacked high on shelves, tucked on tables and displayed for all to see are books of every genre, size and shape.
Welcome to Books Off Main Porterville’s only used book store which is owned by Kathleen Kauffroath, a former lawyer and Harriet Bessey-Standel, a teacher at the Porterville Adult School and former customer.
“I like to think that printed books will be around forever,” said Kauffroath. The store offers new books by local residents.
“We like to emphasize and promote local authors,” stated Kauffroath who is a fan of Tony Hillerman.
The store, which is located at 27 E Oak Avenue, opened in September 2009 when Kauffroath and her former partner the late Walda Warren bought several thousands of dollars worth of books.
“We thought wouldn’t it be fun to be retired and open a bookstore?” said Kauffroth who explained that the store also takes donated books from customers for credit.
Their offerings include many genres including; mystery, horror, classics and romance. However, a few have proved to be favorites.
“History is very popular in town with the men and ladies,” stated Bessey-Standel who joined the partnership in July. “The most surprising is that people come in and buy classics,” added Bessey-Standel who likes to read Jane Austen.
The evolution of technology has brought about some changes in the book business, including the addition of e-readers in society and the closing of book stores. The former does not affect their business but the latter does.
“There have been no decline in sales. Our sales have gradually gone up,” said Bessey-Standel.
“The closures of bookstores in the area has given us an online business. We also do some eBay business,” said Kauffroth who added that they do not have any competition. Though the store does not offer e-readers or electronic books at the Porterville Public Library visitors can check out books via an e-book program 3M eReaders. Though the number of users wasn’t available city Librarian Viki Cervantes pointed out that many visitors were pleased.
“They’re happy we’re providing new resources and the convenience of mobility,” said Cervantes who added that they are looking at providing more titles.
When it comes to e-readers the duo is adamant.
“I don’t know if there are any studies on the subject of retention, but retention is the issue. I frequently come to something in a book and need to go back one, five or 10 pages. It isn’t as easy to me,” said Kauffroth. Bessey-Standel was more to the point.
“Some of us are not geared to technology,” added Bessey-Standel.
For now the women have a steady stream of customers.
“We get a lot of people from up the hill,” said Kauffroth.
Bessey-Standel added that some of their recent customers came from Camp Nelson. She explained that books will always be around.
“Too many of us hold onto it,” said Bessey-Standel.