Thursday, November 17, 2011


After a long spell of not visiting my favorite used bookstore, Wednesday brought the opportunity to once more lose myself among the clean, well-ordered shelves of BrightLight Books in Fern Park, Florida. In practical terms it’s probably best that chances to visit this bookstore are few rather than many, otherwise I would be buying more books than both budget and bookshelves allow. Add to that the increased pleasure of returning to the store after a long absence and I am convinced that distance works in my favor.

BrightLight Books is owned and operated by Scott Hunter, who has staffed the store with four or five people who not only love books, but are knowledgeable about writers, genres and literature in general. Asking about a certain book or author will always produce an informed answer that more often than not ends up in a friendly exchange about the topic at hand. Speaking with one of the staff this time I was curious about their success at a time when small independent bookstores are closing everywhere, when many people are ordering their books online, or otherwise heading straight to Barnes & Noble or Books a Million. There was no clear answer to explain fully the success of BrightLight Books, except to note that over the time they’ve been open, month by month they have built up a loyal customer base. They are also aided by their policy of buying books and issuing store credit in fair exchange. True also that in a poor economy many readers don’t want to pay from $15 to $25 for a new book, feeling more comfortable in being able to find good books below $10. Then there are those looking for collectible books and finding at BrightLight Books an excellent source at surprising prices.

This time three books found their way into my hands, each no more more than $7.00. My friend R—who loves book buying as much as anyone—managed to get out empty-handed, but he is stronger willed than I. The first book that caught my eye was one on American painter Paul Cadmus (1904-1999). Next came Kem Nunn’s 1984 National Book Award Finalist, Tapping the Source. While I was in the store a man came in with several boxes of books to sell and I happened to notice a Michael Pollan title sticking out of the top. A Place of My Own is Pollan’s 1997 personal inquiry into the art of architecture, the craft of building and the meaning of modern work. Hearing I was interested, one of the staff made a quick check of something in her database, slapped a $7.00 price tag on it and handed it over, a hardback first edition in excellent condition.

Adding a link to the store’s website was the plan, but the site is currently being updated. Perhaps in a few days it will be up and running again here. Meanwhile, for those interested in orders or inquiry by email, the business card gives this address:

1 comment:

  1. A nice mix of new and used books--maybe with more used than not. Yes, with so many independent bookstores closing, so great to find a good one thriving. Good selection. Only because of limited luggage room the reason for not exiting with an armload.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America