Yesterday I wrote about my favourite seller of new books. Today, some information on my favourite used bookstore, Aqua Books. If you are a follower of the smart, witty and informative Aqua Books weekly e-mail (sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org), you already know bookstore owner Kelly Hughes (also smart, witty and informative) is planning on moving from his current location in the West exchange district on Princess Street. The plan, as explained by Kelly to his loyal followers and to the Winnipeg Free Press in this recent article, is to open a combination bookstore and bistro in a larger location, but, still likely downtown somewhere. Kelly’s wife, a trained chef, will take over the bistro end of the business.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make the trip downtown (I’m an out-of-towner) to visit Kelly’s clean, well-stocked, friendly store more than once so far. However, that first impression was a very good one. Since then, I have ordered a number of books by e-mail for myself and for my school library and have always been happy with the price and quality of the books I have received. Kelly’s experience working in the used book market, his book-finding skills, and, mostly his sense of humour, make him a pleasure to deal with, especially when I’m following up on a student request for a long out-of-print book, sometimes only knowing part of the title, some of the subject matter, and, if I’m lucky the gender of the author.
In addition to running a great used book store, Kelly has partnered with a number of local literary types to host a popular series of monthly events in his charming store. Stone Soup Storytellers provides an opportunity for regulars as well as newcomers to pick up a story stick and tell a tale. The Free your Mind series, hosted in collaboration with The Winnipeg Writers’ Collective and created and organized by Winnipeg writer and editor Ariel Gordon, features readings and discussions based on a different literary genre each month. Kelly’s award-winning ideaExchange program, hosted in conjunction with St. Benedicts’ Table, is a monthly conversation series of topics ranging from theology to pop culture. Heard of the Book Walk through Winnipeg’s exchange district? Kelly was the mastermind behind that idea too. Check out the map here.
Today’s e-mail from Kelly revealed that he’s currently investigating two more location possibilities for his store. But, don’t let that stop you from paying a visit to his current location at 89 Princess Street between McDermot and Bannatyne. You won’t be disappointed. Oh yeah, they also have the coolest magnets.