January 29, 2018

Florida bookstore makes lemonade out of wet books (not literally)


Well, this is depressing. But also potentially the plot to a rather zany novel?

The Tallahassee Democrat’s CD Davidson-Hiers reported last week that Midtown Reader, an independent bookstore in downtown Tallahassee that has just completed a renovation and expansion, is recovering from a burst pipe and lots of water damage. According to the report, an attic pipe burst when a repairman stepped on it, and hi jinx ensued — if hijinx includes 300 soaked books.

The water from the pipe, which was connected to the sprinkler system, traveled down the insides of the walls and pooled on the first floor. Air-moving machines are currently running overnight to suck out the water still remaining in the drywall, but they are too loud to run during store hours. And while the books bore the immediate brunt of the mini-flood, it’s the walls themselves that could face the biggest, most lasting damage. As Sally Bradshaw, the store’s owner, told Davidson-Hiers, “It could not only create mold; it could continue to seep out to damage the books.”

To add insult to watery injury, the timing is really nasty. The store just this month installed a staircase and second-floor reading lounge and cafe—and a fully furnished bed and bath to house visiting authors—which we can all agree is supremely cool.

Midtown Reader staffers estimate that of the 300 freshly showered titles, 100 are still saleable, at a discount — and Bradshaw is hoping this impromptu sale will spur business during the slow winter months. But 200 books are unsalvageable. Still, Bradshaw was able to see the silver lining. “At least our (fire system) pipes work,” she said.

Midtown Reader opened in November 2016 and offers a mixture of bestsellers, indie picks, and books by local Florida authors. And from their fun Twitter account, it looks like they have damn fine taste in literature.

The books worst affected by the leak were in the mystery, fiction, and children’s sections, which leads us to believe that either Nancy Drew or Harriet the Spy is currently interviewing the repairman.



Susan Rella is the Director of Production at Melville House, and a former bookseller.