Tonawanda News

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December 29, 2012

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Paperback Swap N' Shop closing after 38 years on Webster Street


Tonawanda News — Jay Soemann of Walker Bros. and Monroe Jewelers, who can look out his front window and see Spencer's shop across the street, said she's been a wonderful member of the Downtown Merchants Association for years.

"Doris has been a good supporter of Webster Street and downtown in general over the years," he said. "We're sorry to see her go. That store's been a Webster Street staple for 30-plus years. But we certainly wish her the best."

Glenna Sternin of Partners in Art, the shop's neighbors for many years, said she was shocked to see the "store closing" signs up.

"I was just so heartbroken," she said. "That's very sad, because she's been here longer than we have. And she's been very good to me, saving me books over the years. But sometimes it's just time. It really was a shock."

In addition to her front-row seat on Webster Street and its changes, Spencer has also had a front-row seat to other changes in people's reading tastes over the years, watching interests veer from Harlequin romances to more ... explicit ... materials and seeing genres change and adapt.

"When we started, we had mystery and detective, and we had horror. Now it's serial killers, thrillers, medical thrillers, supernatural thrillers ... there are so many subcategories now. It's just trying to find out where to put them all," Spencer said, adding that the science fiction/fantasy and romance genres have also splintered.

Reading habits changed after Sept. 11, 2001, as well, she said, as people backed away from anything bloody or scary.

"They wanted more family-friendly books," she said. "Not any horror at all. I think that's when the cozies (mysteries) picked up. (The protagonist) could trip over the dead bodies, but you didn't get the blood and guts."

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