Combining 2 of Life’s Great Pleasures

I was one of those people who savored the full Borders Bookstore experience.

I loved to browse the aisles in search of books not just for myself, but also for friends and my grandkids.

I loved to hang out in the café, drink coffee, enjoy a pastry, plug in my computer and catch up with email.

And I loved the mini-concerts that my local Borders stores would host. I’m a music fan who embraces multiple genres, and my first exposure to “Americana” artists Tim Grimm, Slaide Cleaves and the group Old Crow Medicine Show—not to mention singer/songwriter extraordinaire Dar Williams—came at Borders.

Well, we all know what has happened to that “big box” chain.

One potential positive from the demise of Borders is the reemergence of the local, independent bookstore. Even that business model faces challenges, however, as more and more people eschew traditional printed books for iBooks, Nooks and other “tablet” devices.

I’m guessing the independent bookstores that ultimately survive and thrive will be ones that offer their customers not only a solid selection of books, but also an engaging shopping experience.

Two that I’m rooting for to succeed are the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar in Ashville, N.C., and the Book Cellar in Chicago.

At Battery Park Book Exchange, customers may choose from a wine list featuring some 80 still and sparkling wines by the glass, then browse the aisles that are stacked high with more than 60,000 used books.

View a slide show of this unique venue here.

The Book Exchange is located just down the street from my favorite concert venue in the Windy City: The Old Town School of Folk Music. Before a show at the School, I’ve been known to grab a glass of wine at The Book Cellar and browse the shop’s eclectic collection of books.

The shop’s café also offers an array of tasty pastries and sandwiches for those who’d like to sit and relax for a while. In addition to wine, patrons can sip beer, gourmet sodas, juices and coffee drinks.

My favorite “dining” experience at The Book Cellar? The “Sweet Tom Turkey” sandwich (topped with romaine lettuce, tomato slices, Swiss cheese and a yummy cranberry-Dijon spread), accompanied by a glass of Riesling.

You can check out the shop’s current list of wine offerings here.

Posted in Editor's Journal
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