NORWAY — When Books N Things, located at 430 Main Street, reopens on March 3 after a month of renovations and updates, it will be with a new owner and a new name.
Adrienne Cote of Paris said that at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 3, she will reopen the bookstore as The Tribune.
Cote bought Books N Things from long-time owner Erica Jed, who moved the bookstore from the Oxford Plaza to Main Street in Norway 12 years ago.
“The most important thing I want people to know is that The Tribune will still be a bookstore,” Cote said. “This is still the store Erica was running. I want people to feel confident that this is still their local independent bookstore.”
Cote said that she has been around the Oxford Hills for “about 20 years,” and a customer of Books N Things “for probably the past eight or nine years.”
“I was aware that Erica was attempting to sell the building for a couple of years,” Cote said. “I looked at the building myself a year and a half ago, but from a real estate standpoint, it wasn’t the right route for me.”
In September, Cote said that she came into the store and learned that Jed had sold the building and was looking to sell the business too.
“I took a long walk that day and thought about it for awhile,” Cote said. “I was sort of in between things, thinking about what my next chapter was going to be. She and I started talking, and a couple of weeks later, I agreed to buy.”
Owning and operating a bookstore is a new adventure for Cote, and one that she is confident she will be able to conquer.
Before buying the bookstore from Jed, Cote spent 35 years as a merchandising executive in the apparel industry, working with catalog companies and in direct marketing.
“I think that’s what made me feel confident enough to buy the bookstore,” Cote said. “I feel like I have enough translatable background in my career that will help me moving forward.”
However, Cote admits that the book industry is “unique and peculiar.”
“I had the good fortune of working with Erica through the holiday season, and she was very graceful and open to me asking a zillion questions,” Cote said.
She added that she attended a four-day book conference run by the American Booksellers Association in January, where she was able to connect with others who owned bookstores or were looking to open their own bookstores.
“I’m sure I’ll screw some things up, but I’m not afraid to make mistakes,” Cote said with a laugh. “Mistakes make you stronger. I just need to make sure I understand the industry.”
Cote said that she ultimately bought the bookstore because she believes “a bookstore can be about more than reading books.”
“It provides a chance for people to look at a book before buying it and talking with people while they’re doing it,” Cote said. “I think it can be a meeting place for people. It’s important to support that idea and try to get people away from their screens.”
She said that she hopes to start book groups for young readers between the ages of 13 and 15 where they can come to the bookstore once a month and talk about a specific book.
“I’ve gotten really great feedback from people who really loved Erica, who supported her, and who want to have a bookstore in their town,” Cote said. “People are still excited that there’s going to be a bookstore, a place where they can still spend their gift cards, a place where they can buy books, newspapers and magazines.”
Cote pointed out that the word “tribune” means “a person or organization that defends the rights of others.”
“For me, I’m defending my right to be an independent bookseller, and also of the rights of my customers,” Cote said. “Books are a refuge for people sometimes, and I want to make sure this place feels like a refuge or a safe space.”
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