752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
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When filling out the Bookstore of the Month questionnaire, staff members at Flyleaf Books wrote, "If it can be printed on paper, consider us interested." I assume they're not just talking about money.
If the testimony of novelist Jill McCorkle in My Bookstore by Ronald Rice is any indication, Flyleaf's love of the printed word runs bone-marrow deep:
Build it and we will come, the locals had said, and this is exactly what happened in 2009 when owners Jamie Fiocco, Land Arnold and Sarah Carr joined forces and made it happen. This young and lively triumvirate--their talents and areas of expertise covering all corners of the book business--has taken the challenge and run headlong into success and beyond.Established in 2009, Flyleaf is a relative infant in the independent bookstore family, but it already has a reputation among touring writers as the place to read in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park which encompasses Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. (Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh is another must-read store.)
McCorkle continues in My Bookstore:
A flyleaf is that blank piece of paper at beginning and ending of a real hold in your hand and turn the pages book. That blank page is like a curtain rising, the promise of what is to come, and at the end, it is the curtain closing, that collected pause before you face the slow return to the outer world. It's exactly what it feels like when you open the door to Flyleaf Books and step into that comfortable and stimulating world; and when you leave, it's with the knowledge that you can always turn around and come right back, and chances are that Jamie or Land or Sarah will be there to greet you.
Though the store doesn't have any official mascots to join in that greeting, marketing director Linnie Greene sent me this adorable photo of Felix (who "owns" one of the bookstore employees) lounging atop Kent Wascom’s The Blood of Heaven:
Linnie went on to say: "We often get comments about the nice smell of our bookstore--paper, ink, and old-fashioned books--but our favorite compliment is the fact that so many customers return for more picks from our recommendation tables. We get some pretty enthusiastic 'hoorays' at our weekly children’s storytime, too, where the volume is often comparable to a major sporting event." Almost as loud as the roars of crowds at nearby Tar Heels games and, I'm willing to bet, just as passionate.
and author Alan Shapiro (left) conducts a Q&A at the launch for|
Daniel Wallace’s (seated right) The Kings & Queens of Roam
It's not just readers who are treated like royalty at Flyleaf. When I asked some of my writer-friends if they had any good stories to tell about the store, I got an enthusiastic response. Here's what Barbara Claypole White (author of The Unfinished Garden) had to say:
Every author event at Flyleaf Books feels like an occasion—whether the store is hosting a celebrity or a new, local writer. People tend to linger afterward to chat, drink wine, buy books. When I discovered Jojo Moyes (The Girl You Left Behind) was coming on my birthday, I turned down lobster tails and champagne with my husband for a chance to meet one of my favorite authors in my local indie. I blasted my excitement over Facebook and Twitter, and the moment I arrived in the store, I was greeted with a beautifully wrapped birthday present—and the poster from my inaugural signing a year earlier. Then Jamie introduced me to Jojo, and really, I could have died from happiness.We've all heard stories about the mutual love between authors and booksellers, but this one really seems to take the cake.
And that street runs both ways. The staff currently has some very keen recommendations for their favorite books:
Lexicon by Maxx Barry
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin
The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
Linnie reports that bestselling titles include Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers, Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette?, anything by Sarah Dessen, David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, and Francesco Marciuliano’s elegant tome I Could Pee on This (poetry from a cat’s perspective, natch).
When I asked about the oddest/funniest request from a customer, Linnie wrote: "A very nice customer asked if he could go into the kid’s section to do some yoga, and because it’s a little too small, we had to say no."
But hey, that shouldn't stop you from visiting Flyleaf and stretching your mind with a good book. You'll find plenty of kindred spirits behind the cash register, ready to recommend a good title. And best of all, they smell like paper!
Flyleaf Books is the featured bookstore all this month at The Quivering Pen. By clicking on the links to books mentioned in this month's blog posts, you'll be taken to the store's website where you can purchase the book (or, better yet, several books). The Quivering Pen is dedicated to supporting independent bookstores.