|(Reposted from Downtown Happenings, a weekly update of Downtown Chambersburg Inc.)
Northwood Books offers over eight miles of gently used and rare books for the casual reader or avid bookworm. We sat down with the owner, Ami Plessinger, to gain insight into her experiences from the past 11 years operating a business located in downtown Chambersburg.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There are two things I love about my job: the people and the books. The book industry isn’t just about interacting with my customers, but it’s also about the acquisition of knowledge. Both are important, and what I enjoy most each day.
How did you get started in this industry?
The bookstore was established in 1988, and I shopped there about twice a year until 2006. At about that time there was a small sign on the door that said the business was for sale. Leading up to that time, I had visited almost every bookstore on the East Coast and England, and that’s when I decided I would like to run my own bookstore. We had a family conference to discuss the idea. I could see all my children graduating in a few short years, which would give me time to run a retail business. Our family agreed, and we went to work. My husband and my children were instrumental in running the business and eventually renovating the building.
What’s changed in your industry over the last few years?
The biggest change has been the competition with the creation of e-books, and we have adapted to be more competitive. One of the ways has been focusing on the classics from very affordable copies to very expensive bindings like first editions, fine bindings, etc.
We have also become more competitive by the atmosphere and interior. The bookstore is an inviting and comfortable place to encourage customers to return again and again. The interior design is also unique because we want to invoke thoughts that will lead you to read more. We have literary scenes scattered throughout the shop such as scenes from Charles Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop and the wardrobe to Narnia.
Finally, our customers are our top priority, and we go to great lengths to find the book(s) our customers are searching for. We have more than 70 genres, click here for the full list.
What do you see in the future?
I am an optimistic bookseller. I believe with the advent of the e-book that in the not too distant future the printed word will be expensive. Right now we are seeing original books disappear and many books are now printed on demand. Eventually the original, printed and sewn books will become antiques that are highly sought after.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I am creating my own illuminated poetry book. I have been working on it for three years, and it will probably take a couple more. You may see me working on it at the bookstore. I’ve also delved into illuminated oil painting, and my work will be featured in an art show at Council for the Arts in April.
What do you want to achieve next?
My goal is to have the finest bookstore possible on a small business scale. From there, I want people to come back to my bookstore as their destination.
What do you do for fun?
I love to sail my boat. It’s Remarkable.