You have to remember to listen while in 2nd Edition Booksellers. It’s very easy to get lost among the shelves of fading covers and gently worn book spines. You have to be aware that you’re in an airport and that at some point your flight will begin boarding. It’s hard not to let your mind slip away, though, while you’re thumbing the pages of a book you’ve always wanted to read.
A warm, inviting façade draws passing travelers into the second-hand book shop’s airy space on Concourse D in Terminal 2. A large window provides natural sunlight as passengers make their way through the aisles and racks housing some 8,000 titles at any given time, likely browsing and daydreaming at the same time. It’s a scene largely unchanged for nearly 20 years.
A fixture on the landscape
The Book Cellar, in then Terminal A, opened in May of 1984 as the only used bookstore in a U.S. airport. To our knowledge, the title remains today, even as other outlets have combined new and used under the same concourse roof. Over the years, the quaint shop has expanded to Terminal 2 as a kiosk in 2008 and into its present store adjacent the US Airways gates.
The shop caters to those who prefer to read tales from physical books, the kind that allow you to continue the story while your airplane is taxing and taking off. Many times, customers will walk in searching for a specific title. Others turn to the well-trained and knowledgeable sales associates to find just the right match for their trip.
Something for everyone
There’s really a book for everyone on the shelves. And, they’ll buy yours too and add it to the collection. On a recent stroll through the store, I found everything from Vince Flynn to Homer’s Odyssey. There are shelves of mystery, fiction, biography, self-help, religion, business, sports titles and of course, classics.
Forgot your reading glasses? They have those too.
A labor of love
As former librarians, Chapel Hill residents Walter and Karen High have been involved with 2nd Edition since 1991 and have owned it since 2003. They scour the state, visiting yard and estate, moving, library sales and more. They know their customers well and search for the right titles to fill the shelves.
You never know who may be shopping next to you. The store seemingly attracts celebrities. Among the customers over the years have been incognito celebs such as Tom Clancy and Alexandra Sokoloff to instantly recognizable faces like Chelsea Clinton (complete with secret service detail), Sigourney Weaver and Judy Collins.
The future is bright
The advent of e-readers is starting to creep into a lessening demand for fiction sales, but the store has found new popularity with selling rare and collectible titles. At the same time, business is strong, and the store can’t keep current best-selling contemporary titles on the shelves.
Next time you plan a trip out of Terminal 2, stop in. You might find yourself drifting away in an old book before the words “Now Boarding” fill the air.