Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mountain Book Trek

On my way home from Black Mountain I paid a visit to a couple of used book stores. I started at Black Mountain Books, right there in town. Unfortunately, opening time was more than an hour away, and I had a long drive ahead of me so I didn't want to wait. I visited the store last year. It has a nice selection of antiques along with a back room of newer titles, and the proprietress is very knowledgeable and helpful.

My main goal was formerly called the Little Switzerland Book Exchange. It's way off the beaten track, as far as the highway goes, but right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had called ahead because the last time I'd been there, two years ago, the place was for sale. I found out that it had been sold but was still in business.

I like what the new owners have done. They've rearranged and turned over a little, enough that I wasn't looking at the same titles year after year like before, and they've turned the counter into a mini-coffee shop.

It's now called Little Switzerland Books and Beans. The only bad thing was that most of the antique books were gone - they mentioned that the former owner took a lot of stock with him to his Asheville shop - but they have some sets that didn't interest me. They've turned a back room into a wooden boat shop.

They're still working on their organization; I saw one author's name in three different rooms. I didn't find the Diana Gabaldon that I was looking for. I did pick up a few things I wasn't looking for, as usual, including a children's book, Clocks Tell Time. Its two-color print looks older than its 1960 date. I grabbed The Marx Bros. Scrapbook, loaded with photos and mostly written be Groucho. I put back two book-collecting references, because he wanted the original price even though they were several years old and one is now online.

A coffee table book, that I would have expected a high price on, caught my eye. Great Private Collections is like a museum where most people would never be allowed in. I got it for a steal, and bonus: I love books that have newspaper clippings or letters stuffed in them. In this one, somebody had saved articles about these rich people and their collections, including Christie's and Sotheby's estate auctions.

My final purchase was This Book-Collecting Game, by A. Edward Newton, author and bookseller. This doesn't look like a how-to book, but more like a funny memoir along the lines of Larry McMurtry's Books: A Memoir. This...Game was written in 1928, has caricatures of men arguing on the front, and has an unusual combination of a paper dustjacket and matching case, although the case is a bit beat up.

I had lunch next door before starting back down the mountain. The book store shares a building with a great, frou-frou restaurant that boast things like homeade soups and smoked trout. Most of the Labor Day visitors came by motorcycle, enjoying the wind-y roads and perfect weather.

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