If you're a fan of books, especially the works of Stephen King, you'd better sit down before reading this.
Gerald Winters & Son, a fantasy and horror bookstore in King's hometown of Bangor, Maine that specializes in collector's editions of King's titles, has lost an estimated tens of thousands of dollars worth of books in a basement flood caused by a broken water pipe on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
According to the Bangor Daily News, up to seven of King's original typed manuscripts, including those for the short story "Dolan’s Cadilac," the novel The Eyes of the Dragon, and the screenplay Maximum Overdrive -- all part of Winters' personal collection -- were among the items destroyed in the flood.
Also wiped out were many other copies of rare, first and limited editions of King's books from around the world, including signed copies, galleys, and more. Winters estimated that around 2,000 books in total were ruined, representing 90% of his stock. Vintage editions of books from authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin may also be among the casualties.
In a bitter irony, Winters had recently moved the majority of his books to the basement so that he could reorganize the store, leaving just 10% of his inventory upstairs. The water main that broke was located under the sidewalk outside the building that houses his store, the Standard Shoe Building, flooding his basement and that of the bar next door with up to six feet of water.
King told the Bangor Daily News today (January 17), "I’m horrified. As a book lover, my heart goes out to him. I will eventually reach out and see if I can help in any way."
Winters opened the store in October 2016 after moving from Thailand to Bangor, with the idea of opening a rare book emporium that specialized in King's catalog right in the author's backyard. He has been building his collection for nearly 20 years, traveling around the world to find rare and international editions.
Calls to the shop and King's agent and publisher were not answered at press time.