A city with weekly markets, historical monuments and cozy coffee shops, Columbia seems to have everything it needs. According to Odd Bird Books owner Benjamin Adams, however, there is one thing that Columbia, specifically Main Street, has been missing: a local bookstore.
Adams is looking to change this.
Adams grew up with a love of reading and writing. He attended American University in DC for his undergraduate years and got a master's degree in English at Columbia College in NYC. Benjamin is now back in his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, and is using his love for books as an inspiration to open up a new bookstore named Odd Bird Books.
Odd Bird Books will open to the public in early February and will be located in the Historic Arcade Mall on Main Street. This location will be convenient for USC students to access, and the already-existing shops and restaurants on Main Street will be helpful in drawing the public's attention.
Adams has worked in book stores for about six years. Most recently, Adams was employed at Blue Bicycle Books, a local bookstore located in Charleston. Considering his work at bookstores and now his ownership of one, Adams' passion for reading and writing is deeper than a hobby.
“He takes his work with books very seriously,” Nathaniel Sann, current employee at Blue Bicycle Books, said.
Adams said he hopes Odd Bird Books will cater to the literary community of Columbia by providing events such as poetry readings, book club meetings and book signings. Not only will authors come in from out of town for book readings and signings, but Odd Bird Books will also support local writers by giving them a platform to show off their work.
Adams said other mid-sized cities have similar literary events year round, but they can only be found occasionally here in Columbia. According to Adams, if you visit most other cities, you will come across a bookstore that will be in some ways similar to Odd Bird Books. This is why it's surprising to Adams that a local bookstore has not already been established.
“As I’ve gotten older, [reading] isn’t really a hobby that I’ve been able to keep up with. I feel like a local bookstore would be just the inspiration I need to get back into it,” first-year biological science major Seanna Compton said.
Odd Bird Books' atmosphere will have an "indie feel" with the potential to attract many people and encourage gatherings, either casual or professional.
“What [Amazon and other big companies] can’t provide is a physical location where people can kind of gather,” Adams said.
When they come to Odd Bird Books, customers will have the opportunity to meet other readers as well as get book recommendations from Adams. Although Amazon and other book companies might be convenient, this personal level of service is something customers will not receive at larger bookstores.
“There’s just something exhilarating and personal about investing back into your hometown such as with a local bookstore,” Compton said.
Odd Bird Books will open at the beginning of February on Main Street.