Julia Wilkey, 9, Brook Wilkey’s daughter, finds a cozy spot to read Wings of Fire by Tui Sutherland on Wednesday.
If you are looking to purchase a book, While Away Books may be the place for you.
Josh Jones, the business owner, said, “We are very community-oriented and are not just a store but a place where people of all sorts come to meet with friends.” Jones loves being a part of the community and seeing everyone who passes through the store.
Josh and Jeff Jones bought the store in 2015.
“I had been working for Peggy Cheatham for about seven years, and when she decided to retire, I bought the store,” Josh Jones said.
The store now has over 100,000 books and is the only store in town that sells exclusively books.
Brook Wilkey worked at While Away from 2004-2007 and came back in 2019.
Bookstores are magical places,” Wilkey said. “Once you gain a love for reading, you can go anywhere in the world. There are so many different types of books, really something for everyone. Many people have their favorite genre of book, but sometimes it’s fun to go outside your comfort zone and try something new. Also, nothing beats a real book. The smell, the feel of it in your hands. Books are truly incredible things.”
COVID-19 had an effect on While Away Books, but they have been able to adjust.
“We kept the lights on and did curbside and phone orders through the shutdown last year and we follow the restaurant guidelines as to whether food can be consumed in the store or if it has to be to-go only,” Jones said. “We clean and clean, we wipe down each and every book coming into the store, we have reduced hours of operation, and reduced seating in certain areas.”
There is a reason behind the name While Away Books” Jones explained, “Karen Tolly, our founder, thought it a good name. In the store, we have a definition posted on the wall, “While Away …to cause to pass pleasantly and without irksomeness, languor, or weariness…”
When ordering new books, they often buy them locally.
“We do much of our ordering from Ingram but we order from many other sources as well,” Jones said. “For books, we can order from the local Ingram warehouse, we can offer a discount from the retail price. Books we order from other sources usually have some shipping/handling fees added.”
While you are looking for books you can enjoy some coffee or treats. Jones said customers can get coffee drinks, flavored milk steamers, hot chocolate, Italian sodas, cookies, scones, and muffins from Good Dog.
“What’s not to love about books and coffee?!” Wilkey said.
At While Away Books, you can also trade in your used books for credit.
“Your in-store credit goes to half the purchase of used books in the store. Book credit is not used for food, new books, or used books we have to get from another source,” Jones said.
They can not always accept the books you offer to them, because of the condition, duplication or demand.
Located by the large front window is a broad children’s section. Jones said, “We have picture books for the littles and storytime, chapter books for beginning readers, and novels for older kids and young adults.”
Wilkey said, “By far, the customers are my favorite thing about working here. I have met some wonderful people from our community at While Away. My coworkers are also another thing I love about working here. We are like a family.”
One of the many bookshelves at While Away Books on Wednesday.
Philodendron leaf from one of the many large plants at While Away Books on Wednesday.
One of the many corners filled with books at While Away.
Julia Wilkey relaxes with a book at While Away Books on Wednesday.
Piles of books fill While Away Books on Wednesday.