Downtown bookstore closing after near 18-year run

Published 12:08 am Monday, March 12, 2018


NATCHEZ — Turning Pages Books and More, a staple of downtown Natchez, has announced it will close permanently on May 31.

Mary Emrick, owner and operator of the bookstore, said a combination of an ailing computer system and a downtrend in sales have cemented the store’s closing.

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“Bookstores all over are having a hard time,” Emrick said. “Even if I had the new computer program, people just don’t buy books like they used to.”

Emrick said the store’s gross income has more than halved since 2007, when the shop was turning a strong profit.

Turning Pages, the only independent bookstore in Natchez, first opened in 2001.

“I grew up in a house with stacks of books up and down the hall,” she said. “My parents were readers; my husband is a reader. It was natural for me.”

Emrick said she has employed the same staff since 2001, and she has become close friends with everyone in the store.

“I have an amazing staff,” she said. “We have all become such good friends.”

The computer program Emrick bought to organize and order new books has now become inoperable, she said, and the business does not have the funds to purchase another.

“I really am not producing enough income to get a new program,” she said. “I just don’t have enough money that I’m able to put $30,000 or $50,000 down. Even if I had a new program, people are just not buying books.”

Ultimately, Emrick said she thinks the world is changing.

“People don’t read like they did when I was growing up,” she said. “And if they do, they can buy e-books or order online. The change has just made my business a dinosaur. It’s just the way the world is going now.”

The store is now approaching its 18th year of operation, and Emrick said she hoped to reach 20 years at least.

“I thought the store would do well in Natchez — and it did,” she said. “I have the most amazing, loyal customers. I just don’t have enough of them.”

Though her stint as a bookstore owner is ending, Emrick said she enjoyed the time she had.

“I loved my store,” she said. “I just loved it. I’m sorry it’s closing.”