Business is booming at Triangle bookstores
Jaime Sanchez, owner of Epilogue Books in Chapel Hill, didn't know what the future would look like for his Franklin Street bookstore at the outset of the pandemic.
- But more than two years later, Epilogue is now in expansion mode, recently opening a sister storefront called Prologue that sells used-and-rare books.
What's happening: Epilogue's growth is a part of a wider trend happening across the country — even after the entire sector saw sales fall nearly 30% in 2020, according to U.S. Bureau Data.
- Nationwide, more than 300 independent booksellers have opened in the past couple of years, the New York Times reported.
- Locally, the Triangle has seen new openings, like Rofhiwa Book Café in Durham, and expansions from Letters Bookshop in downtown Durham and Golden Fig Books, which recently announced it would open a second location in Carrboro.
- Even Barnes & Noble has opened a new small-format store locally in Raleigh — its first expansion there in nearly two decades.
What they're saying: "Things are looking up," Sanchez told Axios. "We have great support from the community as far as people that like to read books and people that support our mission as an independent bookstore that pays a living wage and uplifts marginalized voices through the books that we carry."
Sanchez said he believes the trend of supporting local will stick around.
- "As the pandemic shifts to whatever it is now, that feeling [of community support] hasn't eroded," Sanchez said. "If anything, it has continued to be reinforced. From this point of view, I'm seeing more small businesses, mom-and-pop shops, pop up because of that."
📖 Some reading recommendations
Sanchez, co-founder of Epilogue Books, recommends "Black Folk Could Fly: Selected Writings" by Randall Kenan, the late North Carolina native and UNC professor.
- "I don’t want to say this is the last work we see from Professor Kenan," Sanchez said, "but it is the latest and post his death. And it's a great work."
Naledi Yaziyo, curator of Rofhiwa Book Café, recommends "Glory" by Zimbabwean author Noviolet Bulawayo.
- "Glory is a brilliant piece of political satire – revisiting the fall of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe," Yaziyo said in an email. "It's been likened to George Orwell's '1984'. So, although it is set in Zimbabwe and is undeniably a Zimbabwean story it is also the story of our times; the turn to authoritarianism and the rise of resistance and counter-movements across the world."
Land Arnold, who runs Letters Bookshop, said it would be too hard to give a blanket recommendation.
- But the store's bestselling book so far this year has been "The Actual Star" by Durham author Monica Byrne, Arnold said, and he recently enjoyed "The Trees" by Percival Everett.
Suzanne Lucey, of Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, said "Book Lovers" by Emily Henry has been a big hit with her customers. "Romance is huge right now with people trying to escape with some light hearted fun," Lucey said.
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