Saturday, November 28, 2015

Page After Page Bookstore - Elizabeth City, NC

Page After Page Bookstore - Elizabeth City, NC
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The hard part about entering this bookstore is turning your back on the view that it faces.  Elizabeth City is very close to the outer banks and there is a spectacular waterway view from the storefront.  Of course, on the other hand, when you turn your back to the outside view you get another spectacular view of a fantastic independent bookstore.  It's a win-win and you can't go wrong.

If you bring a child with you to this bookstore, don't plan on them sticking by your side for very long.  Kids who haven't been here yet are absolutely going to love this place.  This indie is loaded with kids books, toys, and numerous sidelines that turns this place into a kid's paradise.  As much as kids will enjoy this place though, so will the adults.  Page After Page has a nice selection of new books, many by regional authors and with local interests.  These books by the regional authors are actually their best sellers.  The store is able to host occasional author events, usually with a local connection.  Although the customer base is largely local, they also draw customers from the college, Elizabeth City State University, and lots of tourists, especially during the boating season.  Elizabeth City is a strong boating community and all those customers have to do is dock their boats and walk a short distance to the store.  The store also enjoys a strong partnership with the local schools and is able to offer books for their required readings.  It would be great if all the indies could do this since it's such a good way to bring people into the store.

I didn't get to meet the owner, Susan H., during my visit but did meet Zach F. and had a great talk with him.  This store has been around quite awhile, approximately 18 years, and in its current location for about 8 years.  Right on the edge of downtown and the waterfront seems like a good place for this indie.  Zach told me that they continue to try and cater to the needs of their customers.  It seems like Susan and her staff are doing a good job of that since this business has been around many years.

Driving here and finding free, close parking is easy to do.  But why drive if you can take a boat?  Set your sail for Elizabeth City, NC and don't forget to bring the kids.  Everyone who visits will love this bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Where All The Light Tends To Go, David Joy.  Fiction set in present-day rural Appalachia.  Jacob is the high school drop-out son of divorced parents who do drugs and break the law with no conscience.  He wants to escape and break the cycle, but can he do it?  I enjoyed this book and it is the first novel for this author.  He's good.  Recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Secret Game, Scott Ellsworth.

Another exterior view.  

A nice window display.  

I always enjoy seeing dog-friendly indies.  

View looking through the store from the front entrance.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance.  

A great place to pick up some yarn if you enjoy knitting.  

An attractive display of bestsellers.  

If you're looking for a deal, find this display.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

Regional interests and authors is a strength at this indie.  

If your "readers" flew out of the boat, you can replace them here.  

A portion of the children's area.  

Need some art supplies for the kids?  You're in luck!  

View looking from the back of the store toward the front entrance.  Apologies for the darkness.  

Rope for your boat.  This isn't available at any of the land-locked bookstores.  

With Zach on the right.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Page 158 Books - Wake Forest, NC

Page 158 Books - Wake Forest, NC
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There is nothing like the beaming glow of pride a person sees in the face of a new mother.  That's the energy that greeted me at Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC.  Suzanne L. and her husband Dave, are the new proud parents of a bouncing baby...BOOKSTORE!  6 months ago in May this little bundle wasn't even a twinkle in their eyes.  It wasn't something they planned at that time but opportunity knocked and in July they welcomed Page 158 Books to the Wake Forest family.  And even though it's only 5 months old, it seems pretty mature for its age.

Suzanne and Dave bought this indie from the former owner, Drew, renamed it Page 158 Books and hit the ground running.  It has a fantastic location in the heart of downtown Wake Forest along with several other independent businesses.  Suzanne doesn't have coffee in the store but she doesn't need to.  Wake Forest Coffee is conveniently located right next door.  This indie already has many things in place that you'll find at all the other successful ones.  Frequent author events are held in the store; twice weekly story time; several book clubs for many ages meet here including a high school banned book club; and one of my favorite events I would just love to observe sometime, cocktails and coloring.  Adult coloring books are big everywhere ( I don't get it) and here at Page 158 Books they have a group that colors and drinks wine (I get it).  This might be a nice event for other indies to consider (actually, ANY event with wine will probably work).

This business is so young though, they are still finding their way.  The one-level store is very roomy and they have a good offering of titles, all neatly arranged.  There is a great children's department in the back and I think kids who visit here probably love this attractive area.  The store offers some of the usual sidelines including reading glasses, journals, and t-shirts, among other things.  Sidelines are one of those things they'll get a better feel for in time.  They may also have options for expanding in the future if they decide to go that direction.  They're off to a good start with local customers but that base needs to continue to grow.

Suzanne and two of her staffers, Wendy and Gina, were fantastic to talk to.  You'll have a great experience meeting them and talking about books.  Why wouldn't they be excited about this new arrival?!  If you're in the Wake Forest region and haven't checked out this new baby, get there now before it's so old you don't recognize it!  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Devil's Highway, Luis Alberto Urrea.  True account of Mexican citizens trekking across the border in search of a better life in the United States.  If you're not as informed as you would like to be about our immigration challenges, I highly recommend this book.  You'll have a newfound sympathy for others who want to experience life in our country.  Compelling and informative.  Highly recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Where All Light Tends To Go, David Joy.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Assassin's Accomplice, Kate Clifford Larson.

A great place to sit outside the store and enjoy a book on a nice day.  

Looking directly through the store from the front entrance.  

Pick out a coloring book, come to Page 158 Books, drink some wine, and stay inside the lines.  Good luck.  

The Indie Picks book display.  

It's so fun for me to visit bookstores and see warm, friendly booksellers who help me buy a book.  

A few of the sidelines available.  

If you're like me, you probably thought Wake Forest University was located in Wake Forest.  It isn't.  This is a great t-shirt.  

Some great places to sit and browse a book.  

A portion of the children's section.  Lots of space in this area for kids.  

A view from the back of the store looking toward the front.  

A few of the local interests and local authors in the store.  

I was really lucky on the day of my visit to meet Suzanne (center), the current owner, and Drew (right), the former owner.  Thanks for a great visit.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Scuppernong Books - Greensboro, NC

Scuppernong Books - Greensboro, NC
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Ok readers, I see how you're looking at me (I'm not talking about the North Carolinians!).  That look that says, "What the hell is a scuppernong?"  A scuppernong is a grape indigenous to North Carolina and is the state fruit.  According to Steve M., one of the co-owners, everyone would have had some scuppernongs at grandma's or maybe some of her scuppernong wine.  But now scuppernong is also a bookstore.  I've been to lots of Book Marks, Book Worms, Book This and Thats, but never a scuppernong.  Not only is the name unique, so is the store.

After visiting with Steve, the word that comes to mind for me about  Scuppernong Books is versatile.  This place can really do it all.  They have a wonderful cafe in the front of the store where you can have a coffee, soup or sandwich, beer or wine (if you drink liberally it will be easier to buy several books).  They have a comfortable and roomy events space at the back of the store for their frequent author events.  They've also hosted high school reunions, bridal showers, and wedding receptions, great ways to bring people into the store.  Additionally, they have a weekly trivia night and frequently have live music.  Good grief, how could it get any better?  Oh yeah, they've got lots of books.

This is a small room located at the front of the store.  It's out of the way and you won't have customers tripping over you.  Let the romance begin.  
Scuppernong sells both new and used books and the new are about 80% of the inventory.  The poetry section is particularly strong here thanks to Brian, one of the co-owners.  Romance readers will be disappointed to find none of those books here and the store is thin with mystery titles.  But you'll still be able to find romance here if you look carefully.  They don't buy used books but instead are able to simply find them, another one of Brian's talents.

Scuppernong Books is one of the new indies on the scene, not even 2 years old.  It's located in downtown Greensboro and is hoping their timing is right to catch the upswing in the downtown revival.  Many indies have one book buyer but at Scuppernong, all of the staffers are able to buy books for the store.  Everyone is also VERSATILE in their responsibilities to work anywhere in the store, cafe, or books.  If you drive here you can find free parking on the street or a public pay lot in the same block.  Either option makes it a short walk.

Steve was great to talk to during my visit and patiently told me all kinds of things about the staff, the store, and the community.  If you're in the Greensboro or triad region of North Carolina and haven't been here yet, you're totally missing out.  Grab some coffee or wine, grab a book, get cozy in one of their comfy seats and enjoy an experience that you'll want to repeat here often.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Guests On Earth, Lee Smith.  A mix of fact and fiction about a woman patient in an insane asylum in Asheville, NC.  Story revolves around her time spent there, her life's struggles, and the real life tragedy of the Highland Hospital in 1948.  One of the characters is Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was a patient at the hospital.  The book grew on me.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Devil's Highway, Luis Alberto Urrea.

An active events calendar posted in a front window.  

An excellent front window display.  

View looking through the store from the front entrance.  You can see a portion of the cafe on the right.  

Looking for a bargain?  Find one in this section.  

Two of the attractive book displays here.  

Scuppernong serves wine and beer.  

Another view looking through the store and two of the tables in the cafe area.  

A nice view of the cafe, located to the right after entering the store.  

A portion of the section of local authors and local interests.  

A portion of the children's section.  

A few of the greeting cards available.  

These are drinking fountains in a bookstore.  They have bathrooms AND drinking fountains.  I can't remember seeing drinking fountains in a bookstore so I got the photographic proof at Scuppernong.  VERSATILE!

They have a fantastic events space in the back of the store.  Also, lots of wonderful comfortable seating.  

These used books are in the back space used for events.  

View looking from the back of the store toward the front.  

At least pretend to be reading when you sit on this couch.  

A few of the staff picks.  

A portion of the poetry section, one of the store's strengths.  

With Steve M. on the right, one of the co-owners.  Thanks for a great visit.