It’s about time I feature a bookstore on my blog. I love seeking out bookstores when I travel and knew I needed to go to Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar as soon as I entered “used books asheville” in my search bar.
It might be nice to have a glass of champagne while I browse the bookshelves, I thought. The reality was a flipflop of what I’d imagined. There were tons of bookshelves crammed with books, divided in sections with plenty of little reading nooks to peruse them. But — there were also so many tables full of people overflowing throughout the bookstore that the tables and chairs surrounded by people made it impossible to actually go look at the books. The books weren’t the main feature; the drinks were.
I did try, though. I ordered a glass of wine at the bar and carried it around with me. There were chairs and tables scattered everywhere in the bookstore and all of them were taken. It was hard to know what to do with myself. I could either try to find a seat or stand there sipping my wine. The one thing I couldn’t do? Read the back covers of the books I could actually access. The lighting was so dim that you would need a nifty little booklight if you wanted to actually read. Obviously, during the evening hours when they also have live music, they don’t expect to sell any books. It’s a busy nightspot and I gave on book shopping and enjoyed a drink and live music amidst my favorite setting: bookshelves. If I lived in Asheville, I’d be a regular here. For books and for drinks and ambiance.
On Sundays, they even have brunch…
Tell us all about other cool bookstores you’ve been to. (They’re actually all cool, aren’t they?)
I’m always glad to learn about bookstores that are hanging in there. This one is a real nice place and deserves to succeed.
I’m with you. I know independent bookstores are struggling. This was an ingenious way to boost revenue and set this store apart.
No question about where the bookstore was making its profit, Juliann, at least at night. I’d find the experience a little frustrating, at least until after two or three drinks. 🙂 –Curt
I would definitely visit during the day if I wanted to actually look at the books. It’s a cozy place to sit and have a drink, though. And the music was great.
I love bookstores that incorporate a coffee house/other with cozy seats for people to sit, chat and browse, Juliann. First time I ever ran into that was in Carmel. If, I had a bookstore, I would definitely do that! –Curt
Looks like a nice place!
Thanks! It’s definitely a cool place to hang out.
Bookstores are my ultimate weakness. Although it’s been a while since I bought a physical book, I still love browsing the shelves. This isn’t a bookstore, but there’s a book-themed bar in San Francisco called Novela where they name their drinks after literary characters. It’s one of my favorites. 🙂
I suppose if that business model works then fair play to them. I’d get irritated though. Sadly we have no independent bookshops left here in Jersey C.I.
Oh no! I hate to hear that about Jersey. My mom and I used to dream of owning a used book store, back when I was a teenager. There were no used book stores in the area of New Jersey where we lived. (Kind of a weird ‘Jersey’ connection there…) We started buying/collecting books and had a pretty good inventory ready. Then we moved. 😦
If you really like book stores you should check out Powell’s in Portland, OR. With new and used books, the store takes up the whole city block. I dare you to walk in without finding something…
Besides, it would give you another excuse to check out the west coast.
I like the way you think, Dave! I am dying to get to Portland and Powell’s is definitely on my list. I’ve checked them out online and hear great things. I need to get to Portland — soon!