Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A friendly bookstore on Friendly Avenue

Greensboro seems to be richer in book stores than I thought. Right across from Guilford College, I had often glimpsed a sign that said "Books" as I drove down Friendly Avenue. That's all I had time to read near that busy intersection, and every time I vowed to check the place out in the future. I finally stopped in this week. I made sure to get in the right lane and found a little parking lot on the side.

Empire Books has been around about five years, according to owner Mark Wingfield. A pile of boxes and books near the entrance instantly caught my attention. He had just acquired the collection of an aviation enthusiast, and the top book was one that I have at home, minus the signatures (I know the subjects, not the author, from my former career in aviation).

Interested, but not wanting to add to my own collection, I turned to the aisles of tall bookshelves and skimmed the good variety of subjects. An old Star Trek fan-fic I had never seen before, Vulcan!, "jumped" into my hands. I didn't see many antiques, but there was a nice history collection and I picked up a couple of the recent non-fiction bestsellers.

I got up my nerve and asked the proprietor if a wanna-be-bookseller could pick his brain. At first he seemed as if he had to tear himself away from the endless work of cataloguing, but he turned out to be very nice. For the first time ever, a professional bookseller took me seriously and answered questions without trying to discourage me. It probably helped that I've been researching the book trade a little and had specific questions — about shelves, online services, full-time bookselling. He gave me some honest answers and recommended a web service, all without any hint of elitism.  

I had just come from a job interview and I have another one today, both for part-time positions. If I get both jobs, I won't have time to man a bricks-and-mortar shop. My near-term life and vocation are still in flux. But whatever I decide to do, I'll be visiting Empire Books again.

No comments: