On Friday, December 5 at 6 p.m. at the Carter Library Museum and Library, A Cappella Books, a mainstay of the Atlanta literary scene, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary with a gala and a book launch. (Press release below).
The celebration includes the debut of a book of related essays A Cozy Infinity: 25 (Mostly) Atlanta Writers on the Never-Ending Allure of Books and Bookstores.
The A Cappella bookstore and its owner Frank Reiss are an amazing story. The main ingredient to make a bookstore great is that it has to have a personality and A Cappella reflects Frank's intellect and good judgment. Shown in the photo above manning the phones, Frank has been savvy enough to weather the ever-changing book landscape shifting from just being a traditional book shop to expanding his footprint by selling books at local literary events -- most of which he organizes. I date myself when I say that -- Frank is like Ed Sullivan ("Ed got us The Beatles, man") in his ability to provide a landing zone for worthy local and national authors. When he recommends a book, I always make a mental note and most of the time when I go to one of his store- sponsored events it to chat with him as much as it is to see the author. That is not easy because understandably, Frank is usually there working the register. Still he's never too busy to say hello and exchange opinions on the Atlanta Braves.
As a dubious honor, I have searched through all my postings and picked out the ones that best reflect my personal relationship with the store and its owner:
1. The Audio Tour. When A Cappella moved to it's latest location on Haralson Avenue in 2012, I did this blog's only audio piece ever-- rundown of books mixed with chit-chat.
2. My Appearance at A Cappella. In July, 2009 I did a reading of my book, The Book Shopper: A Life in Review at the Opal Gallery, which was where Frank hosted small readings in his Little Five Points location. There was about 15 people there (but they bought!). It is even immortalized on video. Be the 36th viewer today.
3. Pynchon in Atlanta. A Cappella hosted a midnight party to celebrate Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice (when new Pynchon books mattered.) Now they've made in a movie out of Inherent Vice.
4. Billy Collins at the Carter Center. U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins is always among the favorites to see and hear. Another exhilarating experiences include meeting Nick Hornby at The Highland Inn and getting a personally signed copy of Richard Ford's Canada. Frank and his store has made that possible.
5. Paperback Dreams. I first met Frank when he lead a panel of local bookstore owners in a discussion of a documentary about two independent bookstore owners in the Bay area. It was my first blog posting (November, 2008) and an omen to the challenges that Frank has overcome in the past six years.