Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut bills itself as a “locally owned and fiercely independent book store” and as soon as I arrived I understood the truth of this description. Mystic is undergoing upheaval as its main thoroughfare gets chopped up and repaved to accommodate sunken power lines. The place is a mess and the worst of it is that many of the local stores find themselves cut off from customers day after day during this the peak of the summer season. Nautical-themed polo shirts and scrimshaw knick knacks, off limits, unless you want to clamber over unpaved sidewalk areas to get inside a shop.
I visited Bank Square to present about The Orphanmaster and heard that, just the previous day, there had been literally no access to the store. A pit marked the front entrance and a pile of debris the back door. Still, as a testament to Americans’ — even vacationing Americans’ — love of bound books, the place was thrumming with activity. In cases representing every genre, literary fiction, mysteries, history, biography, poetry, you name it, readers were handling books, perusing them, taking them over to the cash register and paying good money for them.
Given the publishing industry’s concerns about book buying, the national economy and the physical upheaval in Mystic, owners Annie and Patience at Bank Square are fierce indeed.