Bookstore hopping in Asheville, North Carolina
On a recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina—sometimes referred to as the “Paris of the South” or the “San Francisco of the East”—I stopped into four different bookstores and was thoroughly impressed. From new books to rare books to books with champagne, Asheville promises hours of browsing and a literary experience for everyone. Here’s a rundown of four great Asheville bookstores to visit.
55 Haywood St.
Malaprops is a large general bookstore where you can find shelves of staff picks recommending the latest new books, as well as a strong selection of books by regional writers. They have a cafe and a busy calendar of author readings. Malaprops co-owners Emoke B’Racz and Linda Barrett Knopp celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2012 by writing a collaborative novel by local authors—a comic serial detective story set in Asheville.
31 Page Ave.
Chan Gordon and his wife Meigan have been selling used and rare books at The Captain’s Bookshelf since 1976. Here you’ll find it hard to resist a first edition of your favorite writer or a beautiful artist’s monograph. My grandmother and I spent a few hours looking through books here. I bought New Directions 10, a 1948 collection of prose and poetry edited by James Laughlin, and dedicated to Alfred and Blanche Knopf, who “over the years of their publishing, have so greatly enriched American culture by providing English translations of significant European books.”
1 Page Ave.
This place is really exciting. Not only can you sip wine or champagne or espresso while browsing through rooms and rooms of used books, Battery Park Book Exchange allows customers to bring their dogs into the establishment to enjoy the literary ambience too. Relatively new to the Asheville scene, the New York Times said that this literary champagne bar’s “Mission-style sofas and leather armchairs in book-lined alcoves bring the cozy nook idea to a new level.”
67 N. Lexington Ave.
This used bookstore offers a great selection of zines and literary journals, in addition to lots of second-hand books. The sister store of Malaprops, Downtown Books and News describes itself as “The grumbliest used bookstore in downtown Asheville. Been here and open every single day for round about 24 years.” The store never closes, even on major holidays.
Friday and Saturday 9am-9pm
Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.