Saipan bookworms saddened by Bestseller closure
The April 17 closure of Saipan’s lone bookstore, Bestseller Saipan, was greeted with sadness by the local community, who also reminisced about the local brick and mortar bookstore that originally opened in Joeten Susupe in 1994 before moving to Middle Road next to McDonald’s Chalan Kiya.
Local historian Don A. Farrel said Bestseller Saipan ceasing operations is a shame not only for local authors like him, but for the entire island community as well.
“Bestseller has served as virtually the sole-source for Saipan’s readers, especially school teachers and serious students. Bestseller has been carrying my books, as well as those of other local authors, since I can remember. The loss of Bestseller means that we might not be able to sell enough books to pay for the creation of new books. That hurts.”
He then sends his best regards to “May Camacho, the owner, who must have dreaded making this announcement, as well as to her dedicated local employees.”
Northern Marianas College president Dr. Galvin Deleon Guerrero was shocked after learning that Bestseller Saipan will be no more starting next month.
“Notwithstanding how much the pandemic lockdowns accelerated our continuing transition to digital content and online distribution, there is something to be said about the in-person interaction, tactile experience, and personal touch that book stores provide. All will be sorely missed with the closure of Bestseller,” he said.
Deleon Guerrero said he really frequented Bestseller Saipan a lot more when it was still conveniently located in Susupe.
“I bought books there about 2 or 3 times a year, not nearly as much as I should have. I miss and more frequently visited their prior location at Joeten. I liked going in to browse books and magazines.”
Saipan International School headmaster Dr. Ron Snyder said it’s always sad to see a mainstay establishment like Bestseller Saipan leave.
“As an educator, it is even sadder to see a bookstore close. We need more bastions of free thought in these uncertain times and this often begins with a good story that can move the heart and soul of the reader,” he said.
Because of Bestseller Saipan closing shop, SIS is also one vendor option down when it comes to purchasing books.
“Our school often placed orders through Bestseller Saipan. I guess the only options now are online stores and, while this can be a good price, it doesn’t help the economy of the CNMI at all.”
Lawyer Colin Thompson said Bestseller Saipan has been a home for local book authors for nearly two decades.
“It’s sad news to hear that Bestseller is closing. It’s going to have a negative impact on our local authors and kids who like to go to Bestseller.”
Saipan Community School principal Amanda Dunn said the closure of the island’s only bookstore is a big loss to the community.
“As a mother of two little ones, Bestseller is a little wonderland of books for them. As we enter to get new books for a special occasion or friend’s birthday they are filled with excitement and I am going to miss having that here on island.”
She said personally she buys books at Bestseller for special books when her family travels and at Christmas and birthdays.
“For work it’s already very difficult to get three on island quotes for procurement when it comes to classroom book sets. I know many students and teachers who are going to be heartbroken,” she said.
Public School System interim Federal Program officer Jacqueline Che waxed nostalgic when word got out that Bestseller Saipan was closing.
“I will miss Bestseller because the first book I ever purchased with my own money was from Bestseller (formerly located in Joeten). Bittersweet. We don’t have any options, especially for people who prefer to get in their car and visit a local brick and mortar bookstore. There’s always the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library…” she said.
Che, however, said the rise of online shopping ultimately contributed to the demise of Bestseller Saipan.
“Not surprised, given the rise of e-books and Amazon, Audible, Kindle, etc. and the variety of books available (plus fast shipping),” she said.
PSS language speech pathologist Kathy Ruszala said Bestseller bidding the CNMI goodbye is very unfortunate.
“It was one of my favorite stores as a child, stopping by to pick up Goosebumps, Archie comics, or a Sudoku puzzle book. I remember lining up, waiting for the doors to open, like it was Black Friday just so I can get my copy of the latest Harry Potter before my siblings, who were Stateside. This was one of the perks of being a day ahead in the time zone. Thank you, Bestseller Saipan. You will be missed.”
Manhita Marianas director Eva Aguon Cruz also is sad with the closure of Bestseller Saipan, adding that nothing beats reading a good book.
“I think we are living in such a highly technical world where the way we gather information and relate to stories happens more in a digital space. I’m kind of old school though and I find that even though technology makes knowledge and information a lot more accessible through PDFs and online platforms, for me, even as I’m doing my master’s studies for school, there’s nothing like the feeling of flipping through the pages of a fresh book,” she said.
Retail Store manager Tahannie Ayuyu, one of two remaining employees of Bestseller Saipan, said it’s indeed a sad day after she learned that her place of employment the past eight years was closing shop.
She said sales weren’t the same after they moved from Joeten Susupe to Chalan Kiya, where there was heavier traffic. Ayuyu said she’s relocating to Cincinnati, Ohio to be with her sister.