Last month former publishing executive Jack McKeown opened an independent bookstore, Books & Books, in Westhampton Beach. Unfortunately, it was right around the corner from an existing independent bookstore, Terry Lucas’ The Open Book, and now the good people of Westhampton Beach are steamed. Sure, there might not be anything wrong with McKeown’s shop (“Even its opponents,” reports The Times, “have grudgingly admitted that it is a beautiful place”), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an interloper.
It’s not like they’re fighting Amazon or Barnes & Noble or e-readers or anything, so The Open Book’s defenders have been scrappy in their tactics. What The Times calls a “David-versus-slightly-bigger-David” battle is being fought with “brightly colored balloons,” used chewing gum, and slogan-bearing T-shirts:
Several storeowners nearby have ordered their staffs not to shop there. Indignant older women have marched inside the bookstore to yell at employees. And someone, or perhaps several someones, may have sneakily placed used chewing gum between the pages of new books….
Ms. Lucas and her staff began devising ways to compete. One of her employees donned a sandwich board and walked along Main Street, pointing passers-by in the direction of the Open Book. (Sometimes they handed out brightly colored balloons to children)….
At Mustique, a clothing store between Books & Books and the Open Book, a sign behind the counter urges customers to patronize the Open Book. Every Saturday employees of Sydney’s, a catering company on Main Street, wear identical T-shirts reading, “I ♥ The Open Book, Your Community Bookstore.”
With the final days of summer upon us, it’s nice to know things haven’t yet gotten boring in the Hamptons.