The Picture of Dorian Books

By Jack Dawson

Jambar Contributor

If anyone has ventured north of Youngstown State University’s perimeter they’ve probably seen the bookstore on the corner. That bookstore is Dorian Books, and it’s going out of business.

The owners and co-founders, longtime friends Jack Peterson and Rodd Coonce, are holding a sale, selling every book for $1 with a minimum purchase of 10 books.

Coping with the change and moving on has been an adjustment for the men.

“Three months ago, I was really bitter, now I’m just sort of bitter about it,” Peterson said.

When the men met, Coonce had just moved back to Youngstown to care for his mother after living in Los Angeles for 15 years.

It all started when Peterson attended a Christmas party that Coonce and a friend were hosting. They met, became friends and the rest is history. They first rented the space, then they bought the space and they made it their own.

Peterson named the bookstore Dorian Books as a way of paying homage to Oscar Wilde’s novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

That space now holds a book store and florist shop.

“When I went to YSU, believe it or not, this space was actually a laundromat,” Coonce said.

Just as the building has transitioned and adapted over the years, so will its owners.

Peterson began dealing books in 1981 and has continued to do so for 35 years. It’s been an uphill battle trying to compete, not only with a shift in technology, but a shift in culture over the years.

“The thing is, the world is changing,” Coonce said, “You can fight it as much as you want, sit, complain, moan and groan, but eventually you have to transition. You have to go forward and do something about it.”

The men think that part of the problem is that students don’t read as much as they used to, and when they do they are more inclined to read from a smartphone or a tablet than they are an actual book.

Andrew Welch, a freshman majoring in accounting said, “I do read, but I don’t read nearly as much as I did when I was still in high school.”

Theresa Gorospe, a freshman education major said, “I definitely enjoy reading, but haven’t bought a book in probably over a year.”

John Koval, a freshman electrical engineering major said, “I barely read for fun, but when I do read I do it on my phone.”

Additionally, the business holds musical events called Music at Madison. At the conclusion of their sale the business is going to transition fully into a singer’s cabaret and event center which will be able to seat over 100 guests.

The bookstore will no longer be a bookstore, but the books will remain. They provide not only great acoustics for the performers but great atmosphere as well, Coonce said.