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After loss of 200,000 books in fire, St. Louis publisher to begin again

After loss of 200,000 books in fire, St. Louis publisher to begin again

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Warehouse fire second day

Firefighters continued to battle a massive blaze in a St. Louis warehouse for a second day just after dawn on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. The fire started in the basement on Wednesday and soon spread throughout the warehouse. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Freelance writer Amanda Doyle still has a few books in her hatchback available to sell before Christmas.

Like several other local authors, she lost titles — which include a popular local guidebook — in the massive warehouse fire that devoured about 200,000 books Wednesday.

“I guess I feel comparatively lucky,” Doyle said Thursday. “It’s not my whole business, which it is for Josh and his family.”

Josh and Mary Beth Stevens watched the five-alarm fire burn up all of the stock for Reedy Press, their publishing company, which has produced hundreds of titles over its 14 years.

“We still have revenue from recent sales, but obviously that will dry up,” Josh Stevens, 45, said Thursday. Holiday sales are “shot,” he said.

“The authors are very upset. We’re going to get back on our feet so we can get their books back in circulation.”

The day after the fire, he was on the phone to his insurance company and starting to consider which books would be the first to be republished.

Recent sports books about Blues hockey and the old St. Louis Browns baseball team have been Reedy Press’ biggest sellers this fall.