Independent bookstore puts in a word for hardcore hard copiers
“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” — Jerry Seinfeld
Technology advances before we’ve gotten used to the status quo. Laptops, iPads, and cellular phones decrease in value at a rapid rate as customers put themselves on lists to upgrade to the newest device before they even leave the store. The book business has tried to keep up with the times, both by discounting existing hard copies ordered online and alternately introducing all manner of tablets and e-Readers to bring the written word to the masses with the touch of a button.
Yet using social media to ascend to literary nirvana can seem like an impersonal journey or a pointless aggravation, sort of like texting the long-lost friend who is sitting next to you on the couch. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Imagine a place that caters to a reader’s community: Step into an inviting space with friendly, knowledgeable staff ready to assist in your journey. A wall of fiction arises before you. Built-in bookcases showcase new titles and old favorites alike. Children’s books tuck into a cozy back corner, awaiting selection for weekly story time. A re-purposed, historic wooden Reelfoot Lake boat shelves outdoor and nature selections.
Local authors are spotlighted and regional selections represented to further promote the broader community. Notices are posted about the next book release party, upcoming poetry nights and book group meetings. Among the books are mementos, gifts, book-related items, and unique greeting cards from several lines unavailable elsewhere in the Scenic City. A vision from the past? Nope, you are in Chattanooga’s brand-new (and only) locally owned purveyor of new books—Star Line Books.
When Star Lowe arrived as a transplant to Chattanooga three years ago, the first thing she did was look for an independent bookstore. “I thought I would go to the store and meet like-minded book lovers who would introduce me to the community. When I did not find a store like this, I felt somewhat like a fish out of water,” she says. “About a year ago, I decided to do something about it and thus the idea for the store was born.”
But isn’t starting a bookstore a seriously risky business? According to the CEO of American Booksellers Association, Oren Teicher, there has been a 27 percent increase in the number of American independent bookstores since 2009, replacing big-name booksellers who closed hundreds of stores in the wake of financial crisis. “Despite all the quantum leaps in technology, the fact is nothing beats a physical, brick-and-mortar store to discover books that you didn’t know about,” says Lowe.
“As Chattanooga’s only locally owned new books bookstore, Star Line Books will provide Chattanoogans, as well as visitors, experiences tailored for a reading community,” she says. “In addition to offering a wide selection of books across genres, we’ll host author signings and book release parties, weekly story times for children, and poetry nights. Additionally, we plan to partner with local schools and literacy programs to advocate the enjoyment and importance of reading and plan to solicit large companies and organizations to procure their training materials from a locally ‘woman-owned’ business. We have arrangements with our wholesalers to provide special order and drop shipping.”
According to Lowe, Star Line Books wants to become an anchor in the community. “We welcome everyone to come and be ‘literated,’” she says.
Star Line Books is located in Suite 106 of the Clark Centre, 1467 Market Street, directly across from the Terminal Brewhouse. The bookstore will be open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and will have its soft opening Aug. 28. Lowe reports that, “Plans are in the works for a grand opening later this autumn. The staff is busy now planning special events to begin soon after the opening.”
Keep up with them online at facebook.com/star-line-books.
Photography by Louis Lee