Published by Coastal Point
For more than 20 years, Bethany Beach Books has been one of the most recognizable and frequented shops in downtown Bethany Beach, and it shows. The store was recently recognized with the 2011 Best of Business Award in Bookstores in Bethany Beach by the Small Business Community Association (SBCA).
“It’s pretty exciting to be honored with this award under new ownership,” noted Jackie Inman, who purchased the store at the end of the summer of 2010. “This bookstore is still in one of the oldest buildings in Bethany Beach, and we’ve got a lot of loyal customers.”
Originally from the Washington, D.C., suburb of McLean, Va., Inman is no stranger to the Bethany Beach area.
“I’ve worked with so many businesses, all around Bethany,” she said, “but when the opportunity came around to move into a quieter spot last year, I took it, and it’s been a fantastic experience. We have so many people who have been coming in for years. The year-round population has really grown, and the local community has been a big part of our success. There are also customers in the summer who come from Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. It’s like coming back to that cozy feel of home.”
The 2,000-square-foot store features everything from New York Times bestsellers to books on local topics and by area authors, and everything in between. But it’s their attention to the younger generation that Inman credits the return of the generations of shoppers.
“The store has really increased the children’s book selection,” she said. “It brings people back to the staples that they grew up on – series like Madeline, Winnie the Pooh, the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Dr. Suess books. They’re the stories that we remember as kids, and parents and grandparents enjoy coming in and passing that along to the next generation.”
The technological era has brought with it some incredible advancements, including e-readers such as the Kindle and Nook, and iBooks for iPhone and iPad, but, as Inman observed, what you may gain in efficiency and convenience, you sacrifice in nostalgia and tradition.
“From what I hear,” she said, “people enjoy being able to pull a book off the shelf. It’s where we all started, and you can’t replicate that with [an e-reader]. Even the older generation, the Baby Boomers, would typically prefer to have a book in their hands.
“You can share a book with your friends. There’s a different feeling you get from sitting down with a book, something you don’t get with an electronic reader. There’s something you feel when you place that bookmark at the next chapter, and a sense of accomplishment when you turn that last page or close the back cover.”
Along the walls within Bethany Beach Books, photographs of authors who stopped by for signings hang, side-by-side. This summer, Inman already has a half-dozen authors scheduled for signings, some recognized nationally, with talks of more on the way.
“There’s a sense of intimacy you get when you’re able to bring your book up to an author and have them sign it,” she said. “You can’t get an author to sign your Kindle. People find a sense of security in books.”
But that’s not to say that customers haven’t taken advantage of other technological luxuries when it comes to Bethany Beach Books. The store’s Web site, at www.bethanybeachbooks.com, has become a wealth of information for its customers, providing visitors information about with upcoming events at the store, as well as throughout the community.
“People check out the site to see what’s new with the store and what’s happening around town,” said Inman. “After all, it’s the community around us that has turned Bethany Beach Books into what it is today.”
Customers can even place orders for books that are not currently on the shelves at the store, to arrive in time for their next visit.
For more information, stop in at Bethany Beach Books, located at 99 Garfield Parkway, check out their Web site, like them on Facebook for news on upcoming events and deals, or call the store at (302) 539-2522. Bethany Beach Books is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. In March, hours will be extended on weekends, and during the summer season, their doors will be open from 8 a.m. through 10 p.m.