Nestled in her own little corner of Portland, Maine, Bettina Buckley owns and operates Happily Ever After Bookstore. Her pride and joy, this shop features a collection of new, used, rare, and out-of-print books. Bettina believes that reading is important for mental health, intellectual acuity, and overall happiness, and she seeks to provide books to accommodate a variety of interests. Tourists and locals come to the shop to enjoy a cup of coffee, peruse the titles, and cozy up in a corner with a nice book to read.
The staff at Happily Ever After Bookstore is passionate about reading and instilling a love of books in people of all ages. Every member of the staff is well-versed in new releases and timeless classics, and each knows just where to look to find readers the perfect title they have been looking for. If a customer requests information on a subject unfamiliar to a staff member, that member knows where to go to find recommendations and answers.
Bettina Buckley feels that having access to books is important to the health and vitality of a community. To that end, she works hard to make a number of titles available at affordable prices. Her shop offers an exchange program for tourists and residents. By dropping off a used book, readers can pick up a new title at no cost. A dollar cart also sits at the front of the store offering a host of interesting reads for a bargain.
Bettina Buckley has a voracious appetite for books. Even before her first day in kindergarten, she enjoyed sitting near a window with a book. While other children enjoyed watching television, riding bikes, and doing other activities, Bettina was content losing herself in the worlds created by the authors.
After graduating with a degree in library science, Bettina Buckley returned to Portland and worked as a school librarian for several schools in the district. Initially, she found the job rewarding because she watched young children’s eyes light up when they learned to read and heard the excitement in their voices when they found a new book to enjoy. She felt rewarded watching those small children running through the library to get to books geared just for them.
When she worked as a school librarian with older children, she tried to foster an appreciation for books to keep students interested in reading. The zeal of young readers had been lost somewhere along the way, however, and she felt her role shifting. To help prepare students for higher levels of education, her job as a librarian changed from helping children find books they would love to read to teaching teenagers how to conduct research for reports and papers. Although the job was important, Bettina Buckley felt a desire to do more.
Before leaving her job as a librarian, Bettina Buckley took classes at a local community college to understand the basics of running a business. She knew she wanted to open her own bookstore, but she wanted to make sure the job was done correctly. When she finally opened Happily Ever After Bookstore, she only offered a few hundred titles and the book exchange program. Very quickly, her inventory grew as she learned where to source the most popular and interesting titles.
After owning the shop for a couple years, Bettina Buckley set out to find one of her mother’s favorite books. This book from her mother’s childhood and was no longer in print. After weeks of searching, she found the title and bought a copy for the store. Patrons would see the book sitting on a shelf behind the counter and comment on how that title brought back such fond memories. It was then that Bettina decided to pursue rare and out-of-print books.
Learning to Read
Part of the mission of Happily Ever After is to teach young readers to enjoy reading. This begins by helping little ones learn the skill. The bookstore started offering weekly children’s story time and tutoring for pre-school aged kids twice a week. Children could come and listen to a story out loud, and tutors would sit with the children and help them learn to read by sounding out the words.
For older children who struggled to read, Bettina Buckley partnered with a local animal shelter to bring dogs and children together in a local park for an afternoon of fun and reading. Children were partnered with a dog as their reading buddy, and the children found a safe way to practice their skills without nervousness. Bettina’s efforts to teach young children and help struggling readers develop their skills made a noticeable difference in the school system.
During the summer, Happily Ever After Books launched a summer reading program that rewarded students for continued practice. Students were given a list of titles. As they read each book, they logged the titles of the books they had read, which they could redeem for small prizes. Extra gifts were provided to students who went above and beyond and read additional books not included on the list. Buckley understood that, particularly in the summer, children have many entertainment options, and she wanted to make sure that reading was a priority among them.
In addition to helping others read, Bettina Buckley also enjoys promoting writing. She knows that without innovative writers, her bookshelves would not contain interesting titles and thrilling stories. Twice each month, the shop stays open for a few extra hours to host writing workshops, complete with coffee and baked goods from a local bakery. Community college professors and local authors speak about the art of crafting a good story. Residents can try their hand at writing short stories and receive encouragement to turn their works into finished novels. The bookstore also brings in businessmen and publishers who can help aspiring novelists publish their works. Two residents have actually turned hobbies into careers because of the workshops and clinics offered.
Among the most popular events held by the bookstore are the author lectures and readings. Novelists including John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks, and James Patterson have all drawn enormous crowds. These authors shared their writing processes, their inspirations, and their breaks into the industry.
In addition to writing programs for adults and older children, young children are also encouraged to create their own storybooks. Happily Every After helps families bind books that children have written so they are preserved for generations. The bookstore also publishes a monthly literary review featuring book reviews and works written by members of the community from every age group.
The growing phenomenon of e-reading has changed some aspects of the bookstore’s business. While its emphasis on rare books and limited-edition books continues, the shop has adjusted its model to accommodate customers who wish to read from mobile devices. To address this need, Bettina began offering courses teaching aspiring writers how to publish electronically and how to network online. Customers can also purchase e-readers from her store, although the selection is limited.
Although she believes that nothing can replace the feel of a paper book in a reader’s hands, Bettina seeks to create a place for the community to come together and enjoy reading. Happily Ever After Books is e-reader-friendly, and the staff believes in the power of a good book and the importance of literacy. Bettina Buckley and the Happily Ever After Bookstore have enjoyed working hard to help readers of all ages find books they will love and cherish.
With children today enthralled with technology and opting for television shows, apps, and games over books, Bettina Buckley knows she faces significant competition. To overcome it, her staff is constantly seeking out interesting books to offer to customers. Sometimes authors who are rarely featured in major bookstores find a spot in Happily Ever After Books because their work is innovative and unique.
Going forward, the bookstore hopes to expand its business in the face of e-readers and the decline of printed materials. By investing heavily in rare books and titles that are not available electronically, the bookstore plans to solidify its place in the literature retail industry.
In addition to book sales, the shop is expanding its partnerships with publishers to help create a pipeline for local talent. Creating new books and fostering the growth of aspiring writers is a cause dear to Bettina Buckley. She hopes to develop ways for members of her community to put their books before larger audiences.
Happily Ever After Books is an avid supporter of First Book, a charity aimed at providing access to new books for children in need. A portion of her profits each month is invested purchasing books for the organization because Buckley knows the importance of the organization’s mission. By giving children new, not used, books, they feel valued and come to realize the importance of reading. Happily Ever After Books will continue to support literacy and community development in Portland, Maine.