Easthampton’s White Square Books finds ‘genius’ buyer

  • Eileen Corbeil, top, of Easthampton, Gavin Grant of Northampton and Grant's daughter, Ursula, 10, gather at White Square Fine Books and Art on Cottage Street in Easthampton, Thursday. Grant and his wife, Kelly Link, have purchased the business from Corbeil and the name will change to Book Moon. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • White Square Fine Books and Art at 86 Cottage Street in Easthampton, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Eileen Corbeil of Easthampton and Gavin Grant of Northampton stand at the counter of White Square Fine Books and Art on Cottage Street in Easthampton, Thursday. Grant and his wife, Kelly Link, have purchased the business from Corbeil and the name will change to Book Moon. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/27/2019 12:11:46 AM

EASTHAMPTON — Next month, White Square Books will take on a new name: Book Moon.

Gavin Grant and Kelly Link, the husband and wife duo who run independent publisher Small Beer Press in Easthampton, are buying the business and running it under the new name. Link is also a fiction writer who was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation genius grant last year for her work, which draws from science fiction, fantasy, horror, and as Link has put it, “The Weird.”

“We’ve always been tempted to have our own bookshop,” Grant said. “We met in a bookshop 25 years ago in Boston.”

They both spent time working at Avenue Victor Hugo Books, a used bookstore that was on Newbury Street for nearly three decades before moving to Lee, New Hampshire. “We just enjoyed it so much,” Grant said.

Their temptation, coupled with Link’s MacArthur grant — which comes with a $625,000 no-strings-attached stipend spread over five years — helped the pair buy the store. “Without the MacArthur grant, there’s basically no way we could do this,” Grant said. “That was really the deciding factor.”

Link is out of the country and was unable to talk with the Gazette this week, Grant said.

The bookshop, at 86 Cottage St., opened in 2010. Eileen Corbeil, the store’s current owner, has been looking for a buyer for a while.

“You know you get on in years and it’s time to inject new energy into something like this,” Corbeil said. “I’m thrilled that people who know books, people who know bookstores, are taking over.”

Link and Grant, who live in Northampton, heard White Square was for sale from friends and read about it in a November Gazette article. “Hey, it’s a beautiful bookshop. Someone will obviously get that,” Grant recalled thinking. “All through early spring, I kept saying to Kelly, ‘I wonder about the bookshop?’”

Finally, he called and asked if it was for sale.

Until then, Corbeil said, there had been a lot of interest, but nothing had worked out.

On Oct. 1, Link and Grant will officially own the business and its inventory of about 9,000 books. It will close for the first week or so of October before reopening as Book Moon — a name Link and Grant put a lot of thought into.

“We went through hundreds and hundreds of names. That was the one that when Kelly came up with it that captured both of us,” Grant said. “It was something we could say happily for the next 20 years when we answer the phone.”

Currently, the store stocks a wide variety of genres and sells some art.

“I think the bookstore is about 50-50 new and used books. We hope to continue that,” Grant said. Selling both​​​​​, he said, “gives you the option of getting so many books into people’s hands at different prices. It increases the accessibility.”

They also plan to sell all types of books, and Grant said he hoped to keep the children’s section strong. “We have a 10-year-old who just reads all the time. When I go by White Square to talk to Eileen, she just sits there and reads books,” he said.

Corbeil said she is happy that Easthampton will continue to have the bookshop.

“Any town worth itself has a thriving bookstore,” she said. “I hope we can continue to have a bookstore, and it can serve the needs of the whole spectrum of residents.”

Link and Grant will hire at least one part-time person for the store, and continue with Small Beer Press. “We’re hoping to continue to do both,” Grant said. “We just want to do everything.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.
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