ST. PETERSBURG - Bayboro Books has opened a branch downtown, hoping to provide a textbook shopping place for St. Petersburg College students.
It also will offer general interest books.
Bayboro has had its main bookstore at 121 Seventh Ave. S at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus more than 20 years. Approximately 75 percent of its business comes from sales of textbooks to USF students, said owner Susan M. Comas.
"We hope there will be more classes taught here," she said of SPC's effort downtown.
The new store opened Jan. 12 at 161 Third St. N. It is sort of in between a building St. Petersburg College moved into last fall at 201 Fourth St. N and the nearby Florida International Museum, the old Maas Brothers department store, where SPC now has evening classes. SPC plans to move into the former Maas furniture store and build it out to accommodate classes and have space for the museum.
The new shop is a small one in a strip of businesses. It has narrow frontage but depth from front to back. It has 862 titles, about 10 percent of what the main store has.
SPC has about 1,000 students in downtown classes. Comas got the college's book list for the current semester and bought about 20 percent of the required books. She had to return quite a bit of them.
"It's a learning semester for me," she said.
In the meantime, she is trying to figure out what sort of nontextbooks will sell there.
"I picked through a little bit of everything at the other store," Comas said. Bayboro Books has a reputation for stocking books beyond the bestseller list, volumes that are the obscure type book lovers go after. That might be The Book of Probes by Marshall McLuhan, who many remember from The Medium is the Message. Gabe Horn, who teaches at St. Petersburg College, is a local author featured at Bayboro with The Genocide of the Mind.
Comas has featured several categories in the window of the new store to try to determine a trend. Of cooking, children, religion and Jack Kerouac, Kerouac has been the most popular.
Four days a week, Bayboro is putting out a box of free books at the location. They might be duplicates of advance copies or textbooks no longer in use. People are snapping them up.
"This is really helpful to me. You never know. It's much better to do that than have them sitting in a corner in the store or throw them away."
Comas said one man who came over from Williams Park, poked his head in the door to make sure the book he was taking was indeed free.