AMESBURY — After more than a decade of supplying the area with some good reads, Elizabeth Schneider, the owner of the Friend Street Bookstore and its predecessor Middle Street Books in Newburyport, is closing the book on her business.
The Friend Street Bookstore will close its doors July 31.
“Everybody tells me it is another chapter of my life,” Schneider said. “Actually I was thinking that I would get some stuff done on my home. It needs some internal paint and I love to paint. I’ll get some friends together and we will have a painting party.”
The small used bookstore located just two doors down from The Barking Dog Bar & Grill began life as the Middle Street Bookstore in Newburyport under the ownership of John Kymalainen in the early 1990s. At the time, the store only sold paperbacks.
Schneider became the store’s manager in 1997 just before a pair of new owners from Colorado bought it in 1998, eventually expanding to a second location in Amesbury in the early 2000s. Schneider bought the business herself in 2003, consolidating in Newburyport until the lease ran out last year and she moved back to Carriagetown, where she also makes her home.
“We gave it a good shot in Amesbury for a little over a year,” Schneider said. “But the foot traffic and the tourists just aren’t here.”
With the book-selling business being what it is nowadays, Schneider said she will not be opening anywhere else after Friend Street closes mid-summer.
“(Online retailers) definitely had an impact on sales,” Schneider said. “If people are ordering (books) on Amazon and reading them on their Kindles, then yeah, sales will be really down.”
A big fan of author Michael Connelly, Schneider also counts “The House at Riverton” by Kate Morton, “The Charm School” and “The Lion’s Game” by Nelson DeMille as some of her favorites, but interestingly enough, as the owner of a used bookstore, Schneider rarely has the time to read.