One of the five oldest bookstores in the nation remains open even when others close.
Otto Book Store, 107 W. Fourth St., has been in business for 170 years, and every year has been spent in various downtown Williamsport locations.
Betsy Rider, owner, said the bookstore has been a family business ever since her father bought the building in 1905. She and her three brothers worked at the store, and then when her father retired, she took over.
Otto Book Store owner Betsy Rider looks over a display table of books.
Part of the success of the bookstore comes from the service provided.
"We have a knowledgeable staff and caring service," Rider said. "We have a good customer relationship. We have a good merchant relationship."
Rider and her four other employees strive to talk to everyone who comes in the store.
"When people come down, we talk books," Rider said. "If they want to talk family, we talk family. We enter their lives and they enter ours. That's the biggest secret for an independent bookstore."
Another means of remaining open is constantly advancing the store. Otto has a website where users can purchase Google ebooks or regular books. Rider uses the website for more than just purchases. She has an extensive history of the bookstore, a section where she posts her 'musings', and a section where she posts her one-minute radio book reviews.
"We do as much as we can do online," Rider said. "The outside area is ordering on the website. One woman said she spent two hours on the website."
Rider never wants to get away from the books aspect of the bookstore.
She once visited the oldest bookstore in the nation and saw that only 20 percent of the store held books, while the other 80 percent are gift items.
Rider separates her bookstore from other bookstores, chain or online, by focusing on regional books. She brings regional authors into the store for book signings during First Fridays.
"Every First Friday, it's like a party," Rider said. "There's always lots of hugging."
Rider also takes her books all over the area.
She has gone into church groups with three big boxes, pulled books out individually and explained why it's a good book. She only recommends books that she liked. Since she said she always has her nose in a book, she can usually find one book a week that she likes.
Other ways that Rider keeps people interested in the bookstore are by offering a Paperback Book Club card, school fundraising coupons, and "Work Free Book Fairs" where every item purchased with an invitation earns the club or school 20 percent of the purchase price.
She has placed brochures in nine nearby hotels and the Chamber's Visitor Center. Local college students receive discounts and brochures.
The store sends books into prisons for the inmates, keeping up a steady service by mail.
Rider has had to cut costs in several ways to save money, but she does what is necessary to keep the store open.
"It's unbelievable and unbearable to think of closing," she said.