Category Archives: Book Store Tourism

Portsmouth Athenaeum

The Portsmouth Athenaeum, in New Hampshire, has made my “book/library/shop that I must visit one day” list. How much fun would it be to peruse these stacks and hang out in their reading room for an afternoon? So cool.

The Athenaeum is a non-profit “membership” library where people pay dues to use the stacks and attend events. And folks have been doing that since 1817¬†when the library was founded. There is so much history here.

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I love the bookcases and tables. You can click through these photos to see the virtual tour page for the Portsmouth Athenaeum (it uses a shockwave viewer, so you may need a plug-in to scroll around), but it’s totally worth it if you like books and books about books.

There seems to be quite a history to the idea of a “member supported” library. It was quite the model for sharing books and knowledge 150 years ago. You could belong to a travel library, philosophy library, general lending library, etc. Whatever your interests were and you could afford. Almost like private clubs to a degree I imagine.

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Libraries have changed (for the better, I think) quite a bit over the years, but it sure is fun to look at these old stacks and think about how it used to be. Maybe I’ll make it up there one day to see it in person.

Church Street Coffee & Books

Church Street Coffee & Books
81 Church Street
Birmingham, AL 35213
Church Street Coffee & Books
(site) @81ChurchStreet (twitter) Church Street (facebook)

Church Street opened its doors on July 2, 2011. I stopped by on opening day to see what they had to offer, in the way of books. The selection there was great! It’s not huge, but very well curated. You can tell that this is a shop isn’t just run by folks who like coffee… they are also readers. It doesn’t take a customer long to figure out that some real thought and research went into the books part of the business. The first thing you see when you walk in is a floor-to-ceiling double bookcase of fiction titles. It was great fun looking through what they had and it felt kind of like visiting a neighbor’s home and perusing their personal library. There is usually just one copy of a book on the shelf and no floor stacks of the latest big-name thriller. So stop by and see what Birmingham’s newest indie bookstore has to offer.

They also have about 8 tables and a couple of big comfy chairs to sit in. I didn’t check to see if they have wi-fi and it was too hot, of a day, for me to buy coffee. But I did pick up a copy of Deborah Blum’s “The Poisoner’s Handbook. It’s been my experience that coffee shops see books as an “add on” type deal. That’s obviously not the case here and I’m excited to see what they have to offer on down the road.

Below are some photos of what the shelves looked like on opening day.

This is what greets you when you enter the shop.
They have a mostly-fiction section under the banner “Summer Reads”
The kids section is tucked in the corner. Complete with bean bag chair.
I like the shelf talkers that start each section. The look like bookmarks.
The first case of non-fiction is to your right as you walk in.
The other case of non-fiction is across from the coffee counter.
Lots of books on little tables & around the registers. They even have books on the walls.

Books Etc. – Bookstore PhotoTour

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Books Etc. is the latest addition to our chronicling Birmingham-area bookstores. The shop is going on three-years-old and let me tell you, this is my kind of used-bookstore. It’s one of those places that is crammed with books to the point that you just have to meander about, letting serendipity do its thing. But you can also tell that a true book-person is over seeing the store. Most everything is shelved under category signs, which helps when you’re in a hurry.

More photos and details, after the jump.

Continue reading Books Etc. – Bookstore PhotoTour