Discover Books outgrowing its Pawtucket headquarters

Discover Books outgrowing its Pawtucket headquarters

Gary Parenteau, of Discover Books in Pawtucket, shows just how crowded the company’s warehouse has become. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

PAWTUCKET – Less than three years after Discover Books expanded to a new 31,000-square-foot facility on Webster Street, the local online book reseller is again bursting at the seams and will likely not be able to stay at its current location much longer, say those who run the company.

Regional Market Manager Gary Parenteau said so many books are coming in that the staff can barely keep up. They’re now shipping out some 16,000 books per week, with the warehouse stacked wall to wall with giant cardboard boxes, often stacked two high. One Gaylord cardboard box holds some 900 books and weighs in between 800 and 1,000 pounds, said Parenteau.

Discover Books now employs 50 people at its Pawtucket location.

“We’re doing pretty well,” said Parenteau.

First founded in Woonsocket 18 years ago, Discover Books sells its pulp for a variety of uses, including for insulation. Starting in 2020, books from the company are also now ground up and turned into household items such as toilet paper and paper plates.

Realistically, said Parenteau, the company can probably only last another year or two at its current location due to space constraints after previously moving from a 9,000-square-foot facility in Pawtucket to its current location.

“We’re pretty full,” he said.

He said the company would like to stay in Pawtucket long-term, as a large share of its employees hail from this city and neighboring Central Falls.

Discover Books has strong ties to this community, he said, donating books to Pawtucket-based Books Are Wings, the Providence Books Through Bars program, many different schools, and continues to give “literally to anyone who wants some,” said Parenteau. A Cumberland resident, Parenteau said he and the company also donated books to all elementary school libraries in that town.

The company recovers books from transfer stations, libraries, and some 550 book donation bins in New England, making sure they don’t end up in landfills. Books must meet a standard where they can sell for a minimum of $4 apiece to avoid getting turned into pulp.