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WHISTLE STOP BOOKS:
Preserving History One Book At a Time
What is the difference between a new hardbound book and a used hardbound? A new paperback and a used paperback?
Not much. A different preface, some updated information, or a few timely comma corrections. Perhaps the cover art and the publication date or a Christmas wish written in the inside front cover. An occasional bent corner where someone left off reading or a random coffee stain where an earlier reader used his or her coffee mug in place of a bookmark or to hold the book open while quoting a passage (some of us have been known to do this). The biggest difference? Someplace between $8 and $24.
Why a used bookstore?
Magic. Used bookstores are magic. Books are magic. You never quite know what you are going to find: a secret door in a lost pyramid, a sunset across an unsettled prairie, a rabbit hole behind a mirror. Books work regardless of the weather or the availability of power. They rarely break when you drop them (although this may not be true if you toss a book off the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and watch the wind scatter the words). Used bookstores house the common place and harbor the rare, the unknown, the forgotten. They are the one place where you can discover older worlds described in the first person or the near past tense: fly with an Air Force ace in World War II or follow a narrow trail across Nebraska with someone who tasted the grit in the air near Scott’s Bluff or further west in Wyoming. Defeat dragons. Fall in love. Climb Mount Everest. Go to Mars. The pages may not be pristine, but the magic is still there.
Why this used bookstore?
Paint. Whistle Stop Books was started to provide funding for a second round of restoration for the Historic Cambria/ Christiansburg Station in time for her 150th birthday. The Cambria Depot, as she is affectionately known, turns 150 in 2017, and like the books in her trackside waiting room, she is magic. Step through the original front door and into a space little changed since she was first built after the Civil War. On rainy days, you can still smell the creosote and the coal fire. You can still watch the trains roll by on their way to West Virginia and Tennessee and see the same sight as the folks who waited for the train in 1868 when she opened for business. You can still hear the faint rumble as the trains pass. Sit in one of the chairs in the bookstore, close your eyes, and listen. The books on the shelves came from our own collection, have been recycled from the library, or have been donated by friends and total strangers who have since become friends.
And then …
Over the next 18 months, we plan on repairing siding and a couple of spots on the roof, scraping and repainting the old girl, adding in her missing windows at the back, building raised bed gardens along her sides to keep the stormwater at more than arm’s length, and a host of smaller tasks. The second round of restoration has an estimated price tag between $108,000 to $129,000…so a lot of books. The funding from the bookstore will help make the restoration possible. A $3.00 used book covers roughly 6% of the cost of a can of roof or siding primer and about the same for the first and second finished coats. With each purchase, you get a great book and we get one book closer to our goal (and for that we thank you).