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King is king at Gerald Winters & Son

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Gerald Winters owner of Gerald Winters and Son rare book store poses with some of the rarest Stephen King and J.R.R. Tolkien books at his downtown store on Monday, Dec. 5. Gerald Winters owner of Gerald Winters and Son rare book store poses with some of the rarest Stephen King and J.R.R. Tolkien books at his downtown store on Monday, Dec. 5. (edge photo by Kevin Bennett)

New downtown bookshop offers a wealth of Stephen King rarities

BANGOR – A new downtown Bangor bookshop has brought an impressive collection of things King to the area.

Gerald Winters & Son opened its doors at 48 Main St. a little over a month ago. The shop is dedicated to rare, collectible books and other related items. And while there are items from a number of famous authors – you’ll see names such as Tolkien and Rowling, for instance – the spotlight shines primarily on the works of Bangor’s own Stephen King.

Gerald Winters has been a serious book collector for almost two decades and a noted seller for nearly as long. He got his start in the late 1990s, buying book collections at auctions and estate sales. But he soon realized that he didn’t necessarily want to keep these collections in their entirety; he began selling off the extras and a business was born.

But he’s still a collector at heart – and his favorite has always been Stephen King.

“I’ve been interested in him since I read my first Stephen King book,” said Winters as he sat in a row of airplane seats from the Bangor-filmed King movie “The Langoliers.” “A friend loaned ‘The Stand’ to me and it was almost a year before I actually read it, but it had a real impact.”

Winters has spent of his bookselling life working in a more person-to-person manner. The collecting community is a relatively small one; with such a tight circle, it’s no surprise that most of them know each other.

“Some collectors would fly me to them so I could hand-deliver their book,” he said. “These books are so valuable that we want to protect them however possible. You just hate the idea of something so rare being damaged or lost in transit.”

And speaking of transit, every time Winters and his family would move, he would have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on shipping his books from place to place. So he started looking for a place to settle down once and for all.

A visit to Bangor convinced him that this might be the place for him and his family; the initial plan was to operate out of his house, but one of his regular customers convinced him that he should open and operate a physical location.

“He suggested that a brick-and-mortar presence might be good,” Winters said. “And it was an opportunity to allow people to physically see these books. There’s nothing quite like the feel of a book in your hand.”

The selection at Gerald Winters & Son is certainly impressive. There are first editions, signed books, rare printings – you name it. These are things that you’re unlikely to ever get the chance to actually lay eyes on. It’s certainly a holiday gift goldmine for anyone shopping for a King fan.

A personal example – I was struck by the presence of first UK paperback editions of the books King wrote as Richard Bachman. “The Long Walk,” “The Running Man,” “Roadwork,” event the long-out-of-print “Rage” – all there for the buying.

(A note on gift ideas: The latest King release is “Hearts in Suspension,” published by the University of Maine Press with a relatively limited first-edition run of 30,000. The book is available for sale at Gerald Winters & Son and at their website. Additionally, Mr. King signed 400 copies of the book in advance of the event – all he will ever do – and Winters is also selling a number of those copies for $450, with the proceeds from those sales going back to the University.)

But while Winters is certainly happy to be offering his wares to the public, he definitely remains a collector first. However, that world is proving to be a little trickier than it used to be.

“Finding new pieces is slow,” he said. “And there are a lot more counterfeits out there, a lot of forgeries. A lot of dealers are out there buying pieces that are largely unknown; verification is difficult.”

As with any collector, there are items out there that Winters has yet to get his hands on – items that he’s not 100 percent sure even still exist. There’s the manuscript for the King classic “’Salem’s Lot” that was given as a gift years ago and has yet to resurface. He’s also on the hunt for the manuscript pages for the prologue and epilogue to “The Shining” – they were sold 25 years ago, but they’ve fallen off the radar.

And Winters has a strong network; he and some of the world’s other preeminent King collectors are in regular communication, emailing and/or speaking via phone on essentially a daily basis.

There are some items in the store that are not for sale. While this might seem a bit incongruous, the truth is that Winters just enjoys sharing some of his collection’s highlights with those who might be interested, even if he’s not inclined to sell them.

“A lot of these items are so unique, there’s no real way to price them,” he said. “At a certain point, you just pick a number and someone says yes or no. With most of the high-end sales I make, part of the agreement is that if they’re ever resold, I get the first chance to buy it back.”

Some of these really pretty incredible items (items that Winters will happily show you, by the way) include the first and second typewritten drafts – along with some preliminary sketches – of a book titled “The Napkins” that would go on to become “The Eyes of the Dragon.” There’s the original manuscript for the novella “Dolan’s Cadillac” – along with a sheaf of correspondence regarding its publication. Particularly cool were some of the proofs – there’s the uncorrected proof of “The Stand,” of which only a handful are known to exist, and a proof of “Cell” inscribed by King to fellow literary icon John Irving.

(All this leaves aside the impressive collection of J.R.R. Tolkien stuff, by the way. While King is king at Gerald Winters & Son, there’s plenty to drop the jaw of Tolkien fans as well.)

So basically, what we have here is an interesting guy with an interesting store selling interesting wares. Combing the shelves and cases at Gerald Winters & Son is a chance to make a collectible connection with the master of horror. It is a must-visit for anyone with a passion for Stephen King – particularly since we’re square in the throes of the holiday season.

(Gerald Winters & Son is open at 48 Main St. in downtown Bangor. Shop hours are generally from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. You can also find them at www.geraldwinters.com or via their Facebook page.)

Last modified on Thursday, 09 March 2017 02:49

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