Too Many Books? No Such Thing

by Oct 5, 2023Business, Southport Oak Island

Once More Bookstore in Southport supports the Margaret & James Harper, Jr. Library in Southport and G.V. Barbee, Sr. Library in Oak Island, funding youth and adult educational programs, facility improvements and various community outreach activities.

Tucked away behind the Realtors’ offices in Southport Realty on N. Howe Street is a 10,000-volume collection of gently used books that are for sale, most of them surprisingly priced at one dollar or less. Managed by Friends of the Library Southport and Oak Island (FOLSOI), Once More Bookstore sells an astonishing 20,000 books every year along with puzzles, DVDs, CDs and vinyls. Proceeds support Margaret & James Harper, Jr. Library in Southport and G.V. Barbee, Sr. Library in Oak Island, funding youth and adult educational programs, facility improvements and various community outreach activities.

While fiction is the largest genre, Once More Bookstore also offers nonfiction, vintage books, classics and a children’s collection. The nonfiction collection includes war, presidential and general history, nautical, gardening, travel, hobbies, biographies and memoirs, and cookbooks.

It’s local folks like Yvonne Moody who help guarantee there is always an amazing selection of books in the store.

Bookstore Southport NC

“I think as long as I have lived here, if I had a duplicate book or a book that I already read, I would donate it to the bookstore,” Moody says. “I loan books to my friends, but most of them, like me, have a good collection of books themselves.”

Before a recent home downsize, Moody had five shelves of cookbooks and four shelves of fiction books, which she donated to the bookstore.

“I had bookshelves in every room of our home, except for the powder room and the guest bathroom,” she says, smiling. Moody estimates that she has donated more than 250 books to the bookstore. “I can’t bear to throw books away. It hurts,” she says.

Moody has volunteered at the bookstore for more than 10 years. She spent a lot of time picking up donated books from Harper Library and transporting them to the bookstore where she was also a shelver, placing the books on the appropriate shelves.

Yvonne Moody Southport NC

In addition to shelving books, volunteers under the direction of Kathy Fleming sort, recycle, transport and sell books. Fleming has been the volunteer bookstore leader for more than 12 years.

“We get very excited to see books like Yvonne’s come into the store,” Fleming says. “And they go off the shelves so quickly. A large portion of the books we receive are in excellent condition.”

Fleming says running the bookstore is fun, even after so many years. “The volunteers do the heavy lifting,” she says. “I just keep it organized. We have everything down to a system.”

A peek behind the scenes shows that Fleming does indeed have the process of receiving and shelving books down to a science. All the sorting and pricing is done in a workroom. Sorters go through the books, separating them into genres, placing adult fiction into boxes by the author’s last name, making it easier and quicker to shelve the books.

Newly published books and trade paperbacks with paper covers get a price tag. Hardcover books don’t get a price tag unless they are newly published and priced at more than one dollar. Then shelvers place fiction on the appropriate shelves while specialist shelvers place nonfiction, children, gardening, cookbooks, vintage, local and Southern authors. Book displays, like Staff Picks, Books About Books and Book Candy, frequently change based on donations and creative volunteers’ ideas as the inventory comes and goes.

Volunteering at the bookstore often goes beyond the books, such as with Bob Plassman, who Fleming calls a volunteer jack-of-all trades. “He is a handy man, painter and book recycler,” she says. In addition to those tasks and transporting and shelving books, Plassman volunteers for special events like the Southport Boat Show, where a selection of used books chosen specifically for boat enthusiasts are sold annually.

Southport NC Once More Bookstore

The bookstore, which didn’t have a name for nearly 30 years, was officially named Once More Bookstore in a contest held by FOLSOI last year. Patty Langer of Oak Island was the winner of the contest, receiving a gift certificate to the bookstore and most importantly, perpetual bragging rights.

“I think the words ‘once more’ call to mind a book that deserves to be read over and over again,” Langer says.

Moody thinks the name Once More Bookstore is wonderful. “I am delighted that there are so many opportunities for people to read,” she says. “I am impressed at the number of nonfiction books that have been donated like World War I and World War II books, Korean War books and history books. I think that reflects an interesting, local well-educated population.”

Fleming agrees. “What is amazing about Southport is the varied interests of book donors. The donations we receive often dictate the genres that go on display, which is both fun and surprising. The number of people who are willing to share their love of reading by donating their treasured books is truly gratifying.”

Books at Once More Bookstore

Change is constant at Once More Bookstore. Recalling the very early days, Fleming says, “We only had one sale per month and 15 volunteers when we first started at Southport Realty in 2011. Now we have sales six days a week and 30 volunteers who along with donors make Once More Bookstore a special and ever-changing experience.”

“Once More Bookstore is inviting, impressive and eclectic. Just like Southport, it’s a gem.” Fleming concludes.
But don’t just take Fleming’s word for it. Take a virtual tour on the Friends of the Library website. Or even better, stop by. You might just turn into a bibliophile yourself!

Want to go?
Once More Bookstore
727 N. Howe Street (at Southport Realty), Southport
folsoi.org

Bookstore Hours
Monday through Friday 1 to 3 pm (except holidays)
Every Saturday 10 am to 12 pm (except holidays)
Donations: Tuesdays and Saturdays 10 am to 12 pm
Book donations accepted at the double doors on the 8th Street side of Southport Realty. They are unable to accept encyclopedias, textbooks, out-of-date technical books, magazines, cassette tapes, VHS tapes and damaged books.