Community Voices: Treasured book store ends 30-year run

Book lovers throughout Forsyth County and beyond are grieving today.

That’s because Humpus Bumpus Bookstore on Highway 9 is about to close for good after a nearly 30-year run.

Located in an old brick house, the store is widely known as the place to go for new and used books as well as those written by local authors. That all ends on Aug. 31, as 69-year-old owner Paul Cossman sells his store for a new life in retirement.

For Paul, it’s always been about more than selling books. It’s been about community, too. For a long time, he sponsored a statewide writing competition for adult and youth authors, taking the best of them and publishing an annual anthology of their work.

The New Jersey native says he has been thinking about retiring for some time and has turned down numerous offers over the years to sell his store. He knew the timing wasn’t right despite less than stellar sales since the Great Recession of 2008. In addition to the economy, small independent book stores like his are also victims of technology such as electronic books and also what you might call the “Amazon-ization” of America.

“People can’t resist buying from them (Amazon) because it’s cheap, it’s fast and there’s no sales tax,” said Cossman. “That’s hurt all retailers.” said Cossman.”

A friend in real estate recently brought an offer from a company wanting to put a physical therapy clinic where the book store is. Paul said he knew that would be good for the community so he accepted.

With that decision a familiar institution will be no more.

Micki Haagsma of Cumming has been a customer since she moved here.

“We’re gonna miss it. Good used book stores are hard to find,” she said.

While I was there several women entered with young children in tow. One of them was Sarah Zidaru of Johns Creek who liked to find books for herself and her children.

“I think it’s sad,” she said. “I hate to see it go.”

She added that this location should always be a book store in her eyes.

Humpus Bumpus has meant a lot to people over the years, but just how did it get that kooky name?

Cossman said it came from an October 1983 edition of a National Geographic magazine article about the Mutiny on the Bounty. In it, Cossman says, was a little known fact that the mutineers landed on an island where the friendly natives offered a huge feast of local fruits. One of those fruits was called humpus bumpus, thus the name of the store: Humpus Bumpus, a Feast of Books.

A huge part of his life for so long, Paul is emotional too agreeing that “It’s sad.”