For the second week in a row, booksellers and volunteers are working out of a garage in Arlington, Mass., packing copies of Neil Gaiman’s latest, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, with a special tipped in signed title page for Porter Square Books, in nearby Cambridge. Nearly 5,000 copies will ship via UPS to arrive on the laydown date, June 18, with several hundred to be held for pick up at 7a.m. at the store. Porter Square’s owners are already talking with their landlord about how early they can open the store for the laydown event, so they can tell customers just how early they can get in line. On the 18th, the bookstore will also release tickets for Gaiman’s talk in Cambridge next month.
For Porter Square co-owner and general manager Dale Szczeblowski, this is the most copies of a single title he’s sold in three decades in the book business, all at full price. As to whether it’s been worth the logistics—working with UPS to get enough bags, ordering supplies, carting all the books to their makeshift warehouse and back again to the store, printing labels, stuffing the bags, and sorting every package for proper delivery—the answer is a resounding, “Oh, yeah.” Ditto, would the store do it again. As for the total orders, it’s now up to 4,850, but Szczeblowski has no doubt that the store will hit it’s cut off of 5,000 copies.
While Porter Square deals with its biggest shipping project, it continues to move forward with an even bigger sale, the store itself. “We’ve had a lot of interest, and things are moving along,” says Szczeblowski, who anticipates that a new owner will be named within the next few months. All the interested parties live in the community and want to keep the staff and carry on the Porter Square tradition.