Gatsby Books
AMONG THE SHELVES. Gatsby Books owner Sean Moor smiles. Business has been good at his new book store that opened in spite of the economic downturn.

    While other bookstores close — both Borders chain locations in Long Beach shut their doors this year and the shelves of Acres of Books downtown have been picked clean — entrepreneur Sean Moor is capitalizing.

    Gatsby Books, Moor’s independent shop that opened last August near Bellflower Boulevard and Spring Street, sells new, gently used and antique books in-store and online.

    “Nowadays with the Internet and Kindle. I thought part of what would make a bookstore relevant in the community would be to offer more than items to purchase,” Moor said, which is why he hosts writer’s groups, book club meetings, short film festivals, art showings and more a few nights a week.

    About half of Moor’s sales are made online and half are in the store. Although some books are offered exclusively in-store, Moor said he couldn’t keep the shop open without the revenue he generates online.

    He said the large space in northeast Long Beach appealed to him because there weren’t other independent booksellers nearby — he noted that he didn’t want to compete with Apostrophe Books in Belmont Shore, {open} on Fourth Street’s Retro Row or A Castle of Books in Bixby Knolls.

    “I realized this side of town needed something,” he said. “I knew opening a business in this economic climate would be a struggle, but business has been better than I expected.”

    Moor, 42, serves as the owner and sole employee of Gatsby Books as a way to keep expenses low. Sometimes his 7-year-old daughter, Audrey, helps her dad.

    Audrey, who said her favorite books are the Harry Potter series, knows where everything is in the children’s section and can help show customers where to find it.

    Moor attributes the success of his fledgling business in part because of the closures of Acres of Books and both Borders, but also because he opens the business to the community for events.

    The Hump Readings, which are focused on poetry, take place at 7 p.m. every third Wednesday (otherwise known as “hump day”) of the month. The Hump Readings participants had been going to Borders just a few months ago.

    “We have really enjoyed coming from Borders to Gatsby,” said Kevin Lee, owner of the Long Beach-based independent publishing house Aortic Books, which organizes The Hump Readings. “The environment is better because this is an independent bookstore with a Long Beach feel. When we have our readings here, it’s intimate and it’s the event of the night, not just something happening while people shop.”

    Owning a bookstore was a dream Moor said he planned years in advance. He stockpiled books in his home and waited until the right moment to find a storefront. Each book sold in the store is still handpicked by Moor.

    “I try to have a mix of popular books you’d find at any bookstore chain as well as old, rare and interesting books,” he said. “Being an independent store means I can be selective and feature unique things you cannot find elsewhere.”

    For details about Gatsby Books, named in a nod to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” go to the store at 5535 E. Spring St., call 208-5862 or visit www.gatsbybooks.com.

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