BOOKPLACE just outside of Oxford at 2373 Baltimore Pike has been flourishing for over 20 years. It was created by my late husband, Richard Beards, a Temple University English professor and is now run by myself, a former Penn State English department professor. It shelves over 12,000 pre-read books and for the last ten years has been home to an art gallery as well. In addition to holding book signings for local authors, it features the works of local artists in eight shows a year. Paper ephemera such as postcards, old photos, maps and advertising also share the space. Unlike the standard mall bookstore, BOOKPLACE which is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, is a changing unpredictable scene with unusual people (both sellers and buyers) coming through the door to browse and chat and drink strong black coffee. The original idea of BOOKPLACE was to serve the southeast Pennsylvania, Main Line, northern Delaware and the greater Philadelphia region as a place to buy, sell and talk about books or any other subject, to be a social place, a cousin to the British pub or French cafe. From time to time we hold fiction and poetry readings and we are thinking about 2-3 minute flash fiction or story slam events.
Fiction, history (local, national, international), art, popular culture, politics, mysteries, new age, young adult, old time "bodice rippers", biographies, autobiographies and corny but compelling "historical fiction" fill the shelves. Guns, woodworking, boat building and auto mechanics share space with Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, canine, equine, and juvenile print. Eclectic! Plus the fun of a scavenger hunt. Multum in parvum, a lot in a little.
The BOOKPLACE gallery shows feature local artists, most of whom also sell elsewhere - Wilmington, NYC, Philadelphia and Lancaster, and many have ties to the Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. The gallery space is committed to affordable art and to that end deducts only 15% from the artists' sales. The vision has always been to keep prices reasonable and with rare exceptions they range from $75 to $1000. Our most successful show in 10 years sold 37 paintings of 46, each $200. The same artist now sells annually on 73rd and Madison in New York for about 25 times the price - and the paintings are still small ones on board.
Every surviving bookseller is and should be, almost has to be unique and alluring. This is our major selling point in a world of look-a-like chain stores and big box stores with identical merchandise and floor layout. The parking is right out front and the coffee is free.