March 25, 2006
Day four of the Festival of the Book wrapped up Saturday. It's a big weekend for book-lovers and local bookstores.
One local bookstore has done business on the downtown mall for nearly a decade, and has seen the Festival of the Book grow year after year, and looks forward to the annual event.
"It brings in lots of people who are interested in books. And people who are interested in books are my best customers," said Eugene Ford.
He's been selling books at "Read It Again Sam" for almost a decade, and said the annual festival of the book is a great way for him to kick off another year on the downtown mall.
"This really marks the beginning of spring for us," he said. "It's a really good season. It wasn't ten years ago, but it is now."
Ford is right. When the festival first started 12 years ago, about 7,000 people showed up. Last year, Charlottesville welcomed more than three times that number, 23,000.
The specialty at Ford's store is mysteries. He's got an entire wall of them, but he also has thousands of other used and rare books.
"It is not so much that you say 'I am going to set up as a book dealer and I'm going to specialize in this or that.' You tend to do a little more of what you like a little better. That's a start, but the specialization really comes and finds you," said Ford.
This festival he gets a chance to meet two of his favorite mystery authors. Ford says having the opportunity to chat with a writer is something very special.
"It's just really nice to shake their hands and say thanks. Thank you for doing this. These are people that--you bring the book home at night and you kind of even hate to start it because you know you're gonna love it and you're gonna hate to end," Ford explained.
But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, including the festival. It wraps up on Sunday. But for Ford, the reading will certainly go on.
"It takes me to places that I couldn't go anywhere else, any other way. To the future, to the past, to the fantasy world that never existed, and maybe never will. Yeah, that's why," Ford concluded.
"Read It Again Sam" is one of dozens of bookstores around town that are participating in the festival. As Ford said today, each store has a different specialty and feel, so he encourages readers to visit all of them throughout the year, even after the festival ends.