As the water receded from Houston and relief efforts started to reach the coast of Texas, the news arrived that Lori’s Book Nook in the city of Rockport, Tex., was destroyed during Hurricane Harvey.
“The roof blew off and other parts caved in on the building, so the contents of the bookstore are pretty much gone,” said Lori Koviac, who co-owns the business with her mother, Darlene Varner. "Books do not do well in the rain." Koviac, who hopes to re-open the store, said such an effort will "take quite a bit of time."
Lori’s Book Nook, which sells new and used titles, has been in business for 14 years. Koviac, who's been living in a hotel for days, said the "small, family-run" store doesn't have the funds to re-purchase all of its stock. "We are hoping to receive some book donations to help start us out,” she said, adding that "a small insurance policy" may be of some help.
Further along the coast, Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard in South Padre Island fared better. “Luckily, for us, Harvey made a jog to the north before landfall," said owner Julie Montover. "As Rockport and Corpus Christi were being pummeled, the sun began to shine on our island. So we only had a lot of wind and rain from the early bands. We are pretty much back to normal.”
In Houston, it was also back-to-business for many booksellers, whose the biggest concern was a lack of customers.
Several Houston bookstores are continuing to offer comfort in the form of free cookies and coffee. At the River Oaks Bookstore, in the eponymous neighborhood, lemon sandwich cookies were being served to the smattering of people shopping. Murder By the Book in the West University district offered chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookies. The store also had a pile of free-to-take paperbacks that were donated by the author Marina Lostetter, whose event at the store was cancelled because of the storm.
At Brazos Bookstore, also in the West University district, store manager Benjamin Rybeck noted that things were getting back to normal, but business was light. Rybeck said one customer, who had lost his home in the storm and was staying at a nearby shelter, was eager to restock his personal library. "The first thing he did was come here and buy a couple of books.”
In the Heights neighborhood of Houston, so known because of its relative elevation, The Lift bookstore is open after several days of clean-up. “I had put manure bags—yes, manure, which is what we could get—at the front and back doors," said owner Rhonda Rhodes. Although the bags kept much of the water out, leaks from the roof took their toll. "I’m still trying to determine exactly how much was ruined," she said. "It took a couple of days to get back to it, but we are open again.”