Friends Group Ties Book Sales to Coffee
By Jim Beamguard
A satisfying book and a superior cup of coffee are natural companions, so it's no surprise that the volunteers of the Friends of the York County Library are finding success selling used books in area coffee shops.
Gently used books donated to the library are now offered for sale at Amelie's French Bakery in downtown Rock Hill, the Virgin Bean Coffee Bar & Creamery in Clover, and the York Coffee Roastery in York. All revenue benefits the York County Public Library.
It's a mutually beneficial partnership. The book sales give the shops a way to contribute to the community while enhancing the cozy, welcoming atmosphere they work hard to maintain. An interesting shelf of books is one more reason for customers to drop by. Along with something good to eat with a latte, tea or espresso, customers can find food for thought, at great prices.
In Amelie's, all books are a flat $5. Items in Virgin Bean are priced individually.
The Friends welcome a new outlet for books, in addition to their lobby sales, Friends Books on Main retail store in the heart of Rock Hill’s historic downtown, and online sales. All of the revenue collected by the coffee shops goes to the Friends – and, of course, on to the public library.
The project started several years ago when Amelie's invited Debora Hutchins, a volunteer and current board member of the Friends, to begin stocking a shelf with books she thought coffee customers might like.
Debora carefully watches the inventory, notes what does and doesn’t sell and strives to give Amalie customers more of what they want to read.
Items she selected for the Amelie's shelf this year, for example, include: “Life on the Mississippi,” by Mark Twain; a pizza cookbook; a French phrase book and a how-to photography book.
DeeAnna Brooks, past president of the Friends, is in charge of the shelf in Virgin Bean in Clover, a small town northwest of Rock Hill. She recently put out a basket of paperback classics that were popular but says customers in Clover generally prefer nonfiction. The shop is selling eight to 10 books a month.
Sales are temporarily suspended because of the virus shutdown, but Friends President Terry Plumb says he hopes that when business returns to normal, the project can be expanded into other local coffee shops.
Raising extra money ($1,000 in the 2020 budget) for the library is not the only goal, he said. Another objective is to encourage reading.
At the shops helping the Friends, you can count on the quality of the coffee; on the Friends bookshelf, you never know what delight you might find.
The author, a retired newspaperman, is secretary for the Friends of York County Library.