Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2007 Issue

Goin' Farther South

Burke's Books since 1875 in Memphis.


By Karen Wright

To continue my tale from last month, we arrived in Natchez, Mississippi, to visit an old girlfriend who lives in a delightfully restored townhouse built in about 1840-something. She is originally from a very old, historic, New York family and her furnishings and paintings complement the place beautifully. My favorite was a wonderful picture of a hunting hound painted in 1790!

We were treated to a Mardi Gras parade sans the bare breasts and crowds of obnoxious drunks, and it was great fun. I came back with so many beads around my neck I could hardly hold up my head. They'll make great presents for everyone at home. We also ate in a restaurant called "Mammy's" which was shaped like a woman in a big skirt and the top of the building had her blouse and head with a scarf on it. It was, I guess, deemed politically incorrect, so the black face of the Mammy had been bleached white. Puleez! It is a part of history and it was charming. The food was quite good.

So, I said to my friend Peggy, where is the best bookstore in town? She replied that Turning Pages was her favorite. This seems to be the year for booksellers to move their stores and "Turning Pages, Books and More," was no exception. It is a sweet little store owned by Mary Emrick and located in a grand Victorian house in a nice, but not very populous area of Natchez. We talked to Mary and her part time assistant and ex-librarian friend, Donna Harrison.

The store is in the process of moving to another part of town with more foot traffic. The upstairs, which is where the used books are normally sold, was bereft of books with only a few boxes of cast-offs to be seen. The downstairs was very nicely arranged with new books, many of which were by local and southern authors. There were lots of really groovy kids' books. The selection, because of the move, was limited, but the quality was excellent and the "More" in the store's name included interesting book paraphernalia as well as antiques, art work, some jewelry, and the like, but was mostly books.

We talked about how Mary got started. In 1991 Mary was at a point where her kids were nearly grown, volunteer work was losing its charm, and books had always been a big part of her life. "A friend and I decided to open a bookstore," she said, "and later, my friend moved to Florida and I stayed here, so the store has been here sixteen years, part of that time under a different name."

She told us that she sells new books and previously read books, but no collectibles. "When we get moved over to Franklin Street, we may not carry used books anymore as we have the same square footage as we have here, but not as much storage space."

As part of their business, Turning Pages has lots of events for authors, lectures, and art classes for the public. Mary said; "We have an art teacher from a local school that comes in and gives the classes. We also just finished a Natchez History Conference, and all this helps with sales."

Rare Book Monthly

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