Content Tagged ‘bookstores’

Seven Questions for the Country Bookshop

In mid-September, Lookout Books and author Matthew Neill Null went to the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) conference, held in Raleigh, NC. There, we had the privilege of meeting and talking to many booksellers from across the South. At the conference, one of our staffers sat down and chatted with Kimberly Daniels Taws, owner of the Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC. Earlier in the week, Matthew Neill Null had led a workshop on writing historical fiction at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities as part of his North Carolina tour, and the Country Bookshop sponsored a book signing after the event. We had such a good time meeting Kimberly, hearing about her store, and then taking a trip to see it, so we were grateful to sit down with her again at SIBA to get all of the official details about books, Southern Pines, and quarkbeasts.


The Country Bookshop was founded in 1953, and when Kimberly bought the store in 2010, she resurrected the original logo, which she found in newspaper ads. She also shared with us how successful Honey from the Lion has been at the Country Bookshop, hopping right into the top spot for paperback fiction sales after our visit.

book-talk-dry-augusten-burroughsName a book you bought for its cover.

Dry by Augusten Burroughs. It’s dry, but it’s dripping wet. It’s fabulous, just so well done.

What are some of the qualities that make the Country Bookshop unique?

Probably the town. Southern Pines is a hidden gem of a town. A lot of places try to recreate what our town is organically. It has guitar shop and a cheese shop, a wine shop, a bike shop, a knitting shop, an art gallery, two coffee shops, a great independent theatre, an ice cream shop, tons of women’s dress shops, and a toy shop. There are great restaurants, all within the two blocks of our cute downtown. It’s walkable. And the North Carolina Literary Hall of fame is there in Weymouth.

If you could adopt any fictional animal, which one would you choose and why?

Like a snuffalufagus? I read this book, The Last Dragon Slayer by Jasper Fforde. I needed something different. This girl, she was an orphan and became an indentured slave to this house of wizardry. And she has a quarkbeast. So, a quarkbeast.

9781594634475_custom-a1c60d0db7c4d3d9fce99ec338b463c8ea95ca03-s400-c85What book are you recommending most to customers right now?

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.

It changes the way you look at things. Like how you and I could be sitting here but we would have totally different experiences. It hammers down on that kind of different experience and it is mind-blowing.

What songs are on your store’s playlist?  

Funny enough I do not regulate the music. It’s based on mood and whoever gets there first. The Pandora stations we are listening to are Jimmy Buffett and Macy Gray. I usually put on Tedeschi Trucks. And jazz. We like to keep it varied.

What do you see as the Country Bookshop’s role in the community?

We are one of the oldest consistent storefronts. So the continuity and the stability as the town has evolved is something greater than the shop. Our goal is really to make our town a literary destination. There are stories: F. Scott Fitzgerald used to come here on the train, and townspeople would have to help him stumble his way up to Weymouth from the station. As locals, we all know those stories, but if somebody is coming through the town, they are not going to know it and they would never see your town as the place where these stories happen. So to make that accessible, I think is one goal and then to advertise our town as this destination is our job.


Lightning Round:

Coffee or tea? coffee

Hard cover or paperback? hardcover. And let me preface that with an autographed first-edition hardcover.

Vowel or consonant? vowel

Highlight or underline? underline

Bookmark or dog-ear? dog-ear. I’ve worked for a long time with older people and their books, and one of my favorite things is how books have been used.

Train or plane? plane

Cake or pie? pie

Mountains or sea? sea

Dog or cat?  dog

Lit News Roundup

It’s the final week of classes here at UNCW, and we’re beyond grateful to the student staffers who are the heart of our enterprise. This semester, they’ve dedicated their energy and talents to threading a book interior, researching and pitching covers, hand-lettering titles, fact-checking, proofreading, writing media materials, and planning the marketing and publicity strategy for next year’s release. Thanks to Abby Chiaramonte, Liz Granger, Justin Klose, Katie Prince, Bethany Tap, and especially Becky Eades, who has managed our social media platforms, including this blog, with diligence and care over the past few years. You all will be missed, and we wish you every success in your future writing and publishing endeavors. (Good luck finishing up your portfolios and exams too!)


As 2014 draws to a close and we hit the bookstores for holiday shopping, we thought we’d round up a few best-of lists that caught our eye:

Time released lists of the Top Ten Everything in 2014, including the Top Ten Fiction Books and the Top Ten Nonfiction Books.

Was 2014 the year of the debut? Electric Literature thinks so, but we recommend keeping an eye out for Lookout’s debut novel, Honey from the Lion, in 2015.

We’re always eager to see which titles make the “100 Notable Books of 2014” from the New York Times.

Slate issued the “22 Best Lines of 2014,” featuring Astoria to Zion and Ecotone contributor Rebecca Makkai. Head over to read her sentence and twenty-one others from some of the year’s “most enjoyable books.”

Speaking of sentences, Salon published a terrific collection of ”Two-sentence Thanksgiving Fiction,“ featuring authors Brock Clarke and Rebecca Makkai.

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Ben Miller Mail-Order Ice Rink Kits

At Lookout we’re anxiously awaiting the release of our first memoir, River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa by debut author Ben Miller.

In celebration we assembled gift boxes to bookstores, including a copy of River Bend Chronicle, a reading guide, a bow tie button, postcards, Ben’s personal map of Davenport attractions—and, perhaps most touching, a note straight from Ben’s Royal typewriter.

We drew on the wild, memorable, pop-culture saturated prose stylings of Ben Miller. The inside lid of the box features an excerpt from “The Reinvention of Ice,” a chapter in which Ben recalls a classmate’s father’s big American invention: a mail-order ice rink, complete with tarp and spikes. Just hook up the hose and wait for frigid conditions!

Best of all the boxes look like the mail-order ice rink as it’s described in “The Reinvention of Ice.” Check out a few photos of the process.

So get ready, bookstores—they’re coming your way this week! (And there’s a good chance you’ll see these items at AWP, where we’re debuting River Bend Chronicle!)

—Ana Alvarez, Lookout Intern