White Square Books a Community Gathering Place
Eileen Corbeil owns White Square Fine Books and Art in Easthampton, Massachusetts. She says every community should have a bookstore. “It’s more than just a place to sell books, it’s a gathering place,” she says.
And White Square is indeed such a place, and Eileen is a significant force in the community, affiliated with many arts organizations and events. She participated in Easthampton’s Bookfest, saying that it was a great opportunity for self-published authors to get their work recognized. She also took part in the annual Cultural Chaos event, which she sees as another way to collaborate with the local talent and be supportive of the arts and, in turn, receive community support.
Eileen also hosts her own events inside the store, such as a poetry workshop every Wednesday night that supports poets. She also works with local authors frequently to provide a location in which they can have book signings and readings; Janice’s book, Divine Renovations, launched at White Square with an eager crowd of nearly 30 people.
Sometimes, Eileen has unwittingly launched talent, the most noteworthy being Ransom Riggs, who released his book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, at White Square, also the first book store to carry it. Riggs’ book is now being made into a movie featuring Tim Burton—an incredible feat, and it all started right in Easthampton at White Square.
White Square will celebrate its fifth anniversary this December. Looking back, Eileen says she saw the empty space on Cottage Street, now a designated cultural district in the state, and told her husband to ask city officials about it; soon afterward, Eileen saw the space was available. She made a deposit, and the rest is history.
Eileen recalls having “too many books,” so she knew whatever business she started in the shop would relate to books in some way; once inside the space, she knew it was the perfect size and shape for a book store. The name references the large group of talented book artists located at One Cottage Street. She wanted an establishment to augment this talent, so she sells a variety of books, from fine art to rare quality books in addition to used.
Before she became an entrepreneur, Eileen worked in the corporate world in higher education. At Smith College, she served for 20 years in Human Resources and later was self-employed as a consultant for a time.
She returned to higher education, working at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for 10 years in operations management as well as Human Resources payroll and accounting. She says the business background allowed her to bring a great deal of useful skills to the table in running White Square.
Eileen says she is very grateful to have found her “heart’s desire” in White Square. She hopes the store encourages readers to read and authors to write. She says that there is so much talent in the Pioneer Valley, and one of the most surprising realizations in owning White Square has been the ability to “meet so many interesting people; it’s a side benefit I never even thought about.”
Eileen says her next mission is to tap into the community’s youth. She says she knows young people are interested in reading; she just needs to find a way to bridge the gap and connect.
Stop by to check out the store or, to see the website, drop in here!