Decades of groundbreaking publishing... lost. Years of memorable stories, wiped away. The loss of numerous original Stephen King manuscripts is proving devastating for the author's fan base, as well as for the man who had collected these works and lost them when a water line broke in front of his Maine bookstore, causing irreparable damage.

Gerald Winters owns and operates Gerald Winters & Son, a bookstore on a quiet main street in Bangor, Maine -- home town of iconic author Stephen King. Winters had made it his life's mission to move to Bangor (from Thailand) and collect all of the manuscripts to King's works. And he did. Only, a broken water main flooded the basement of the shop earlier this week, and MainePublic.org reports that dozens of first- and limited-edition King manuscripts were ruined.

Gerald Winters laments:

You can't replace this stuff

He's talking about a first edition of Pet Semetary, which was waterlogged from the damage, and typed manuscripts of early works. The devastation was nearly total. Gerald Winters estimates that he lost 2,000 books in the flood.

Ironically, I was able to visit the Gerald Winters & Son shop last year, as part of a Stephen King trip that Sony sponsored for The Dark Tower. The studio brought a handful of King geeks to Bangor for a tour and an interview with the author, and a stop on the tour included a visit to Winters' shop. And you could understand why. The man had filled the space with tributes to King, collecting props from the different movies adapted from King's books, as well as multiple versions of King's stories collected from over the years. We didn't see a basement, but I can attest to the fact that Gerald Winters was a rabid King fan who has dedicated his professional life to preserving the author's legacy.

Here are some pics I snapped during my Bangor trip:

Stephen King weighed in on the tragedy, telling the Bangor Daily News:

I'm horrified. As a book lover, my heart goes out to him. I will eventually reach out and see if I can help in any way.

The newspaper says that the shop owner was spending his days after the flood looking to see what, if anything, could be rescued, but he wasn't having much luck.

Photos courtesy of Sean O'Connell/CinemaBlend

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