ROCKPORT—When she was seven, Olivia Gelerman moved up to Midcoast Maine with her family from south of Boston. Homeschooled, she had a natural passion for literature and at an early age, devouring The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and other timeless novels. But with classics like Huckleberry Finn, she sometimes found it difficult to plow through so much text and the concepts were not always interesting enough.
As she got into the Pokemon craze like so many tweens, a new interest was building.
By the time she as 10, Olivia developed a fascination for manga and anime, as well as graphic novels. Now 11-years-old, she has amassed and read nearly 500 volumes in those genres, collecting them in her own home library, having become an expert on their various stories.
Olivia is working an entrepreneurial angle in her family’s soon-to-be-open 47 West, a specialty bakery, espresso, wine-beer and home goods store.
On the second floor, in the back of the room, multiple bookshelves hold an extensive collection of genres for sale one could not get anywhere else unless one drove several hours away to Portland or Brunswick or Bangor.
The fact that she selected them is noteworthy; the diversity and quality of these titles could have been chosen by someone twice her age.
Olivia has read and can recommend every single one of them from horror classic (such as a manga variation on Edgar Allan Poe), to sci-fi, fantasy, girl-centered, alternative, apocalyptic, hard-to-find and best sellers.
“As I was homeschooled after Pokemon and other stuff like that and I started to get interested in manga,” she said. “Then I’d go to bookstores like Barnes and Noble with my mom to see if they had anything.” Eventually she explored and found a whole new world of books online.
When her mother and father began to put together the ideas for 47 West, they told Olivia she could have her own corner for books.
It took her the better part of a year to begin researching the ones she thought kids would like and filling orders. Nowhere in the Midcoast (or even withing a 50-mile radius) is there a bookstore with a collection as huge as Olivia’s now is at 47 West. “We wanted the ones that were high quality and were popular sellers,” she said. The collection has a diverse range of smaller comic book paperback styles to hardcover collector’s items.”
“I know not many people in Midcoast know about manga and anime and I’d be so happy if anyone took an interest in it,” she said. Olivia is open to ideas and has even considered if there is enough interest to host discussions up in the cafe section of the second floor on various subjects.
Penobscot Bay Pilot will now work exclusively with Olivia on monthly book reviews of manga, anime and graphic novels from a tween perspective to be posted in regular columns.
For more info: www.47west.com
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com