Two new bookstores for Asheville

Even as some downtown business go out of business, at least two are opening their doors. And perhaps coincidentally, both are bookstores. One bookseller is picking up where a beloved local used-book retailer left off; another charts new territory in a central location with a supply of bubbly to ensure a celebratory mood:

Montford Books & More (31 Montford Ave., Asheville, 280-1303) opened its doors Friday, Jan. 16. Owner Kay Manley, who took over the space formerly occupied by The Reader’s Corner, says this business is “something I’ve always been interested in. It seemed like a good opportunity.”

Montford Books & More maintains the spirit of The Reader’s Corner with the added bonus of snacks, drinks and seating. Photo by Jonathan Welch.

Manley says the new store will be similar to its predecessor “as far as selection and quality,” with a focus on used books, DVDs, CDs and vinyl.

Some changes: The bookstore will offer drinks and snacks for sale (though nothing as substantial as bagels or sandwiches). Readers wanting more than a shopping experience are invited to hang out—there’ll be places to sit and wireless Internet access. Manley says she wants Montford Books & More to feel like “a neighborhood retreat.”

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

Battery Park Book Exchange (1 Battle Square, Asheville, 252-0020), an elegantly appointed sprawl of rooms fitted out with couches, wide shelves and Oriental rugs, is moving into the Battery Park Apartments. The space is set to open around the first week of February, owner Thomas Wright reports. He and his wife, Donna, also own a seasonal business, the Little Switzerland Book Exchange, on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Thomas and Donna Wright expand their literary kingdom from the seasonal Little Switzerland Book Exchange to downtown Asheville’s Battery Park Book Exchange.

The Wrights’ downtown Asheville business promises a wide range of subject matter, a vast collection of used books and new ones on local and regional subjects, including North Carolina and Southern history. While the already-stocked upstairs area—visible from street level—looks to be a treasure trove for literature fans, Wright emphasizes that the Battery Park Book Exchange also includes “about 2,000 square feet in the basement,” which “We’re jamming with a minefield of books.”

Like some of their local competition, the Wrights will accept used books in exchange for cash or store credit. What’s different? This business will also boast a champagne bar. “We’ll serve wine, beer and nonalcoholic beverages,” notes Wright. “We call it a champagne bar to distinguish it, because hopefully we’ll have the best collection of sparkling wines and true champagnes.”

As such, the store will stay open a bit later than most other booksellers—until about 8 p.m. in winter and, once warmer weather arrives, till 10 p.m., so customers can take advantage of the planned outdoor seating.

“It’s a small bar and a pretty good-sized bookstore,” says Wright. “More librarylike than barlike.”

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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4 thoughts on “Two new bookstores for Asheville

  1. JuleS

    Support these new bookstores, as well as your local library! Too many bookstores are going out of business because people believe technology has rendered print obsolete (making it passe and thereby “uncool”)….books will NOT be obsolete in the foreseeable future.

    If those who boycott printed books do so in the name of saving the environment, consider this.. Millions of people in third and even second world nations are starved for the printed word. If you really want to keep books out of the waste stream, make an effort… form an organization… collect books from your neighbors that they no longer want… find out which countries need and want books, where to send them, then write to large and small publishers alike to encourage them to send their remainders and books they would destroy. Those books will be read and re-read and passed along until they’re tattered. Not a single printed book ever need end up in a landfill again.

    And for that matter, there are scores of organizations and individuals who collect books right here in the U.S.A., for an array of places and groups that are desperate for books: jails and prisons, inner city and rural libraries and schools, homeless shelters, hospitals and clinics, literacy programs, senior care facilities and nursing homes, churches, youth centers, daycare centers, YMCAs, thrift stores and resale shops, park districts — not to mention all the organizations such as the AAUW, which hold annual book sales to raise funds for many worthy causes.

  2. Dionysis

    Thank you JuleS; I am complete agreement with you, and could not have stated it better.

    There is nothing quite so satisfying and enjoyable than pouring over a good read, in the form of a real book.

    I look forward to visiting both of these bookstores.

  3. Jennifer

    My husband and I just returned from our first weekend trip to Asheville, where we discovered Battery Park Book Exchange. This is quite possibly the coolest shop we have ever been in. We are both avid readers and especially adore leatherbound classics (so hard to find new!!). Incidentally we are also both wine lovers. We killed about an hour and a half here and would have stayed longer if we didn’t have theatre tickets to use that evening. The atmosphere invited browsing and the staff was very helpful and friendly. Felt like a great place to just hang out and relax. I had an excellent Pinot Noir, and we bought 6-7 books. We plan to return to Asheville soon and definitely will make Battery Park a regularly stop on our list.

  4. mvedwards

    My husband and I just spent a few days in Asheville for the first time. We discovered Battery Park Book Exchange and believe it to be The. Coolest. Bookstore. Ever. We are both passionate about books and wine. We spent an entire afternoon browsing, reading, sipping and nibbling in a most comfortable and elegant atmosphere. This was the most pleasantly surprising discovery of our stay! Definitely top of my list on our next visit!

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