You could blame the airline industry.
But it was probably unavoidable.
Early last summer, 30-year-old Groton resident Colleen Lynch was about to board a plane to visit a friend. She had already dropped off her dogs with her parents and was leaving for the airport when she received a notification that her flight had been delayed.
With a little extra time, Lynch, an avid reader, writer, and professional librarian who also has a side business online selling old and rare books, did what she usually does with a few extra minutes.
“I went to a used bookstore. I love bookstores,” Lynch says. “I thought I’d just drop by Books Etc., because it was nearby, and look around for a while.” She speaks behind the counter at No Other Book Like This, the second-hand bookshop she opened on August 1st – in the same cozy Poquonnock Road location as WAS Books Etc (and, for a long time before that, the Book Trader ).
Referring to his visit on the day of the delayed flight, Lynch said: “I had no interest or plans to own a bookstore. I love being IN them, but I had a lot to do and had to other projects.”
But, as book lovers do, Lynch fell into a conversation with Candace Elizabeth, owner of Books Etc., and in a quiet conversation, they shared enough information for Elizabeth to have a proposal.
“She said, ‘I guess I have to buy a lottery ticket,'” Lynch laughs. “I asked why, and she said she was hoping to sell the store – she wanted to spend more time with her family – and the perfect buyer had just walked through the door. I gave her my details to be polite, but I didn’t seriously think about it, except… I realized on my way to the airport that I already had a vision of what I would do with the place.
The best plans
At the time, Lynch, who had a master’s degree in library science from Simmons University in Boston, worked as a business and social media librarian at the Ives Squared branch of the New Haven Free Library. She enjoyed the gig but hoped to find employment closer to Groton, and as such had sent in several resumes. And yet, she couldn’t help but think of Books Etc.
“The idea of owning my own second-hand bookstore appealed to the dreamy side of my personality as well as my love for old books,” she says. “That’s why I named it No Other Book Like This, because I love old books that might have been overlooked or forgotten. Practically, however, I also realized that I had also acquired quite a few real-life experience that would also help.”
As a business and social media librarian, Lynch advised library patrons on how to learn more about topics such as entrepreneurship and small business, which by definition have become their own learning experience. At the same time, her online business selling old and rare volumes was growing, and through it she had learned a lot about how to write grants and business plans, manage taxes, and maximize opportunities. social media and self-marketing. .
“I realized that I never planned on having an online business either,” she laughs. “It started because I can’t resist an old or nice volume or a signed or original edition, and suddenly I had more books than I had room for. A lot of them came from boxes of books donated to the libraries I was working at at the time, for one reason or another, weren’t going to be accepted. It got to the point where other librarians were telling me to check it out. before they were thrown away, and I ended up bringing a lot of them home.
“My parents looked at these growing piles of books and said, ‘Is it your goal to read them all?’ I’m one of those people who plans to read every book I get, but there’s also the reality, so as an experiment, I listed 10 titles on ESTY and they sold out. made a thousand dollars doing this. And I thought, ‘This might work!'”
With similar confidence and excitement, then, and the moral support of her parents, who had instilled a strong work ethic, Lynch approached Elizabeth and a deal was struck. “I decided the store had fallen into my lap and it was meant to be,” Lynch said.
Not like the others
Stepping into No Other Book Like This is, in many ways, a familiar experience. After all, it’s like other bookstores in that there are, uh, books. Many books. But it’s also different. In the lobby, there is a huge wall of bookshelves containing old and rare books – which might be different from a strategy focused on current bestsellers and the familiar coterie of authors whose geography by divine right is the eternal kingdom of the bestseller. There are also two comfortable wing chairs – one of which, the “Dollar Chair”, is piled high with overstocked paperback bestsellers from previous generations of elite authors.
Behind the cash register, Lynch, with dyed silver hair in free fall and a permanent smile, answers customer questions, gives change and offers treats to her two extraordinarily well-behaved dogs, Little Girl and Benny, who idle on a bed under the counter. . A Father John Misty song plays at a reasonable volume. And, in tribute as well as because it makes some commercial sense, books by or about recently deceased personalities/authors like Anne Rice, Betty White and Joan Didion are on display.
The rest of the floor plan’s shelves, walls, and hallways are separated into the usual categories, and Lynch and his only other employee, Peddy Smith, are diligently rearranging, shelf by shelf, to ensure maximum organization.
“We’re getting there,” Lynch says, adding that she hopes to create a small space for author events or musical performances and perhaps add coffee or tea for patrons. There are chairs and tables everywhere you can just sit and read for a while. She also describes an impending Next Book program. Customers can join for free and, based on their purchases and preferences, Lynch and Smith will recommend similar titles and authors that the reader might not be aware of.
“One of the things I enjoy most about my job as a librarian is interacting with readers,” says Lynch. “If you can help them find what they’re looking for and, in the future, maybe steer them in a direction that they’ll be interested in, it just won’t get better. Hopefully we will here too.” .”
Lynch pauses. “I realize it’s easy to say a bookstore will be unique, but it’s also familiar territory because it’s the business of books,” she says. “My vision is that people will feel comfortable here the same way they do at Bank Square Books (in Mystic), Book Barn stores (in Niantic) and Savoy Bookshop and ReReads in Westerly. love these stores and they each have their own personalities that reflect and draw the community in. I hope to do the same here.