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Barnes & Noble makes its Kahului home permanent

One-year event, cafe coming soon

Emily Bigoss, Barnes & Noble children’s lead bookseller, reads Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” to Cole Zupner, 7, and sister Charlie Zupner, 5, on Saturday to commemorate the famous author’s birthday. Seuss was born March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Mass. He died Sept. 24, 1991, in La Jolla, Calif. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

KAHULUI — Bookworms can breathe a sigh of relief.

Barnes & Noble, the island’s only bookstore of its kind, recently made its Kahului location more permanent with a five-year lease and plans to install a cafe.

“I call the store the field of dreams,” said Cindy Mauricio of Kihei, longtime Barnes & Noble store manager. “Build it and they will come.”

Next on the construction list is a cafe with more seating that the bookstore will add in April or May.

The cafe will be similar to the store’s former Lahaina location and will offer Starbucks drinks. What’s different, said Mauricio, is that the Kahului store will feature a local bakery.

Cindy Mauricio (right), Barnes & Noble store manager, helps Maria Johnson of Kihei at the Maui Marketplace location in Kahului on Saturday. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

“They’re looking at something different for our store,” she said. “We are trying to outsource a local bakery. . . . We will brew Starbucks and that’s what a lot of people said they have been missing. I am going to do the best I can to have an environment where people can have that comfortability.”

That environment is what Charn Stevens of Haliimaile said she likes most about the bookstore.

“I love bookstores,” she said. “They are so calming and peaceful and serene.”

Stevens, who enjoys magazines, said she used to go to Borders Books & Music at Maui Marketplace and was sad when it shut down.

Borders closed in 2011 as part of the company’s bankruptcy liquidation. Barnes & Noble, with one other location on Oahu, is the only remaining bookstore on Maui specializing in new books and magazines.

The Maui Marketplace store does a brisk business Saturday morning. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Aya Teshima of Wailuku, who was looking for books for her granddaughter on Friday, said she loves Barnes & Noble and books in general.

“It’s funny because I am of the generation where I like the tactile feel of a book,” she said. “My children have given me certain devices to read in other ways but it just doesn’t stick.”

Teshima is not alone. Despite the print industry taking hits with the rise of e-Books, print books in recent years have made a bit of a comeback.

Print books experienced revenue growth in 2018, with hardback revenue up 6.9 percent from the year before to $196.8 million, according to an Association of American Publishers report released Feb. 11.

Meanwhile, 2018 is the third consecutive year that revenue declined for e-Books, the report said.

Rich Gazan, professor and chair of University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Library and Information Science program, said people need to take breaks from the internet, and that’s helping the resurgence of print media.

“I think people who realize they need ‘digital detox’ time are a big part of the reason print book sales have risen recently while e-Book sales have fallen,” he said via email Saturday.

“Print is peaceful and tangible. You don’t need to log in. It has no pop-ups, notifications or crashes. You feel and hear the crispness of a turning page. Of course there’s room for content to be delivered on all kinds of devices, but the intimacy of print will always be with us, as it has for thousands of years.”

Josh Meredith of Wailuku, a self-described bibliophile who was perusing the store Friday, also said he believes books will endure the test of time.

“Books give you a lot more depth,” he said. “Electronic devices are great and everything, but there’s a time and place to go low tech.”

Ending a contract in Lahaina Gateway Center after 11 years, coupled with the rise of electronic books and the closure of other stores selling new books, added uncertainty to the store’s transition last year.

The company decided to find a new spot on Maui after 1,000 people signed a petition started by a 15-year-old student.

At first, Barnes & Noble at Maui Marketplace was labeled as temporary, but with the recent lease extension, Mauricio said she will let people know this is the store’s permanent home.

“The community has been been a big part of this,” she said. “They reached out to the corporate office, saying, ‘Keep the bookstore alive.’ “

The store manager said she likes the central location of the new spot, which is close to University of Hawaii Maui College, schools and other community groups.

Even though the store is smaller than the Lahaina’s location, it has lots of variety and magazine sales are doing well.

“It feels like people are missing that tangible book, even though they went to that digital whatever,” Mauricio said. “Also, we are doing phenomenal with our magazines.”

On March 12, the store will celebrate its one-year anniversary at Maui Marketplace with a public event of live entertainment, free giveaways and an author signing with Madhuri Vijay of “The Far Field.”

Mauricio, who’s been with the company since day one in Lahaina, said she has a sense of appreciation about making it to the one-year mark in Kahului.

“We are still here and we are making the best of it,” she said. “When I see a customer’s face, one who loves the smell of new books, it’s a real kind of gratitude feeling.”

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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