WordPlay – Wardensville, West Virginia

WordPlay – Wardensville, West Virginia

Opening a business of any kind, let alone an independent bookstore, during a worldwide pandemic is no easy feat, but for Tom and Marlene England, it is a venture proving successful. In September, the couple, who already operate a bookstore and toy store in Frederick, Maryland, opened WordPlay, an “independent bookstore with an extra helping of fun,” in Wardensville, West Virginia. “The idea has been percolating in our brains for about four years,” said Marlene, a West Virginia native. The…

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Buckeye Bend Books – Buckeye, West Virginia

Buckeye Bend Books – Buckeye, West Virginia

Gerry Burnett opened Buckeye Bend Books in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, for a rather simple reason: his barn was so full of books, he could no longer fit his tractors in there. An avid reader and book collector, Gerry had long been storing his collection in his Greene County, Virginia barn. When he retired from teaching in the late 1990s, he began searching for a place to move his massive set of volumes, and opening a bookstore seemed the perfect…

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Cicada Books & Coffee – Huntington, West Virginia

Cicada Books & Coffee – Huntington, West Virginia

Nestled amid a row of quaint antique stores in Huntington, West Virginia’s Old Central City district, Cicada Books & Coffee is providing a welcome respite to visitors, while bringing a long-held family dream to fruition for mother-daughter owners Dawn and Katie Norman.  Owning and operating Cicada – a name which conjures a sense of rebirth and fresh starts – isn’t the first time the Normans have worked together, but it is a venture that has been a family dream for…

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COVID-19 Edition: Chop Suey Books – Richmond, Virginia

COVID-19 Edition: Chop Suey Books – Richmond, Virginia

While bookstore explorations are on pause, let’s look at how a Richmond staple is keeping books in the hands of customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Richmond, Virginia’s Chop Suey Books was named Virginia’s best bookstore in 2019 by MentalFloss, and it’s easy to see why. From an expansive inventory spanning two floors, a friendly staff, a cool vibe, a unique history, and a friendly bookshop cat, Chop Suey checks all the boxes of a fantastic indie.  The shop came by its…

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Riverrun Books – Greensboro, Pennsylvania

Riverrun Books – Greensboro, Pennsylvania

Tucked away on a quiet side street in Greensboro, Pennsylvania, is Riverrun Books, a gem of a used bookshop that has served its community for decades. I happened to be coming to the shop from a direction that led me, at times, along rather winding, narrow stretches of two-lane, small-town highway. “There’s a bookstore along this road?” my traveling companion asked aloud more than once.  Yes, there is, and it’s fantastic. I’ve noted several times throughout the blog that my…

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Taylor Books – Charleston, West Virginia

Taylor Books – Charleston, West Virginia

The word “homey” comes up more than once when asking staff and customers at Charleston, West Virginia’s Taylor Books to describe the bustling shop located in the capital city’s downtown shopping district.  “It has a homey feel,” says Aaron Justice, who works in the shop’s café. “You have everything here. The shop plays a big role in the community.” And he’s right. Opened in 1995 by local entrepreneur Ann Saville, a native of England, Taylor Books is the epitome of…

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Wonder Book & Video – Hagerstown, Maryland

Wonder Book & Video – Hagerstown, Maryland

Boasting over four million books across three retail locations, the aptly named Wonder Book & Video is indeed a wonder to behold. Wonder Book is a book lover’s paradise that has been serving the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area since 1980 and online audiences since 1997. I took a break from book signings in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia to hop across the Maryland border and check out the Hagerstown location. If wading through long, tall rows of books is your cup of tea, Wonder…

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The BiblioFiles: Gordon Simmons, Former Bookseller

The BiblioFiles: Gordon Simmons, Former Bookseller

In this excerpted essay from Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia, former bookseller Gordon Simmons recounts his years in the indie book trade at such Charleston, West Virginia landmarks as the former Major’s Bookstore and Trans Allegheny Books. Bookshop Memories, or Keeping the Aspidistra Flying It was probably around 1979, while working split shifts as a directory assistant operator at the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company on Lee Street in Charleston, West Virginia, that I first became a nearly daily regular in…

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Cathedral Café – Fayetteville, West Virginia

Cathedral Café – Fayetteville, West Virginia

Nestled in the New River Gorge region of southern West Virginia, the small town of Fayetteville draws tourists from all over the world looking to experience the outdoor adventure offerings boasted by the area, from rock climbing to hiking to whitewater rafting and more. And amid the downtown district’s eclectic array of boutiques, shops, and restaurants is the popular Cathedral Café, an eatery, juice bar, bookseller, and all-around community hub. Locals and tourists alike frequent the café, which offers an…

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Robie Books – Berea, Kentucky

Robie Books – Berea, Kentucky

Tucked into the small college town of Berea, Kentucky, is a jewel of an independent bookstore called Robie Books, a lovely shop selling new and used titles for nearly twenty years.  The shop opened its doors in 2002 as Robie and Robie: Fine Books. Owners Harry and Laura Robie opened the shop because of a love of both books and their Berea community, which at the time lacked an indie bookshop. Having retired from his job at nearby Berea College, Harry…

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