There was an article in yesterday’s paper – the second in a month – about the demise of another indie bookstore: Accent On Books, in Asheville, NC. This one I know about – it’s the site of my most highly attended, most successful book appearance. But that was half a year ago.
I’ve gotten to know one of the store’s co owners, Lewis Sorrells, and as I talked casually with him about books, or as I listened to him talk to one or another of a small but steady stream of customers, I began to realize the Lewis isn’t just a book seller, he knows books; he loves them. Too, he pays careful attention to the market. But why close the store? “I think thirty years is enough,” said the gray-bearded, dapper man. “I want to spend some time with my grandkids.”
Back in July when he first sprung the news on me that he expected to close the store at year’s end, I was a bit shocked, and that’s one reason I did what I could to draw a last stream of customers to the store. All in vain, however. He and partner Patrick Covington had survived the big box book stores coming to Asheville, but when I mentioned that some indie stores had made agreements with Barnes&Noble to sell Nook e-books, he shrugged that away. He told me then that he hoped to sell the store and its inventory, but sadly that didn’t happen, and he was forced to sell his inventory as best he could before the end of January.
I stopped by last week to say my good-byes, and Lewis told me his biggest regret was that he offered certain types of books that no other store in Asheville would touch. Besides the big-list books, he carried a number of children’s books, odd historical books that only someone like me would read, and local, small selling writers’ books, such as mine. “But really,” I asked, “won’t someone pick up those books, just to take a chance?” His brow furrowed, evincing a second of anger, I think, and he shook his head.
We said our good-byes. I certainly wish Lewis and Patrick well, but it’s damned sad, you know? To them books were a source of enjoyment and experience in their various alternate worlds. Not just products, but art.