As construction workers were busy digging and hammering at the Lido Marina Village recently, Dan Schmenk stood in his bookstore, Lido Books, and looked around at the shop's stacks of paperbacks and hard covers.
"We're going to have double the space — soon," he said.
As the once-popular retail center at the entrance to the Balboa Peninsula works to remake itself, the independent bookshop, which has been a tenant there for all of its 15 years and has been celebrated as one of Newport Beach's popular gathering places, must change as well.
But what the store will be undergoing is not exactly a facelift but more of a literary peel. And it will do so in a new location within the center.
The prime piece of waterfront real estate once drew crowds to eat and shop, but the foot traffic languished in recent years as vacancies in the center mounted and the grounds began to look neglected.
In 2012, the village was acquired by DJM Capital Partners. The private equity and development firm envisioned bringing back the village's charm and vibrancy by restoring upscale shopping, dining and marina activities to the location.
Schmenk has weathered the construction and been able to carry on business with his loyal customer base, despite having a closed street in front of his shop.
He and Newport Beach designer and architect Rand Kruse, who also is designing other spaces at Lido Marina Village, are rebranding Lido Books to fit with the new look of the village.
Having being inspired by classical European libraries, like Cambridge University's, Schmenk said he wanted the updated Lido Books to maintain its inviting charm through a restoration mix of modern and old-school.
The store will be relocated one door down from his current address.
Kruse said his new space will incorporate fixtures on interlocked wheels so they can be moved as needed. Also being added are brass tabletop lamps from Berlin, ceiling fixtures to light bookshelves and a children's section, to fill a demand for children books.
"We wanted to make it as big as possible but include that library touch and make it cozy and classic," Kruse said. "We were thinking it should have that jewel box feel."
In addition to the bookstore's inventory of about 5,000 books, Lido Books will offer more merchandise like notebooks, pens, cards and book cards stamped with the store name, he said. Millennials, he noted, are interested in inexpensive novelty gifts, like vintage bookends.
The renovation, Schmenk and Kruse said, will help the bookstore keep in pace with the times.
The bookselling industry had been in jeopardy over the past few years.
Borders went bankrupt in 2011, couldn't find a buyer and ended up being liquidated. Barnes & Noble has reported declining sales, and the demand for the company's Nook tablets tumbled with customers making fewer purchases at its brick-and-mortar bookstores.
But according to American Booksellers Assn., retail sales at bookstores were up by 7.5% in November 2015, compared with the same month the previous year, according to preliminary figures recently released by the U.S. census. November 2015 bookstore sales are estimated at $757 million, compared with sales of $704 million for the same period last year.
Independent stores have been commended for being integral parts of communities as corporations took greater hold in America.
"It's that personal touch, and people like talking to someone who knows about books," said Schmenk, whose bookstore also features magazines from international publishers.
Because independent bookstores are often reflective of the communities in which they are located, there is more interaction with customers and greater service, he said.
Since many of his customers travel, Schmenk said, he will find a book based in a particular country. For the couple flying to Scotland, he suggested a mystery by Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin for the 10-hour flight.
Shoppers will find a few more books on France in his store, Schmenk cautioned, since it's his favorite place to visit.
Not to be forgotten are Lido Book's partnerships with local organizations to promote author lectures and other events.
And his website notes top sellers and offers an option to order books online.
Newport Beach resident and author Candi Sary, at Lido Books on a recent Wednesday morning, said she has been shopping at the bookstore for about a year. Her novel, "Black Crow White Lie," is on the shelves.
"This just doesn't exist anymore," Sary said of the neighborhood bookstore like Schmenk's. "He reads the greatest stuff, and I stay about an hour just talking to him about books."
Schmenk is adamant that he won't sacrifice certain things at the new store, which is projected to open in the spring.
"I want it to be approachable and not too chic, and I want it to be a place that favors books above everything else," Schmenk said. "But more importantly, I don't want anyone to judge the store by its new cover."
Lido Books is at 3424 Via Oporto, Newport Beach. For more information, call (949) 673-2549 or visit lidovillagebooks.com.