Battery Park Book Exchange Interview

Trading Books by the Thousands and Wine

battery park book exchange interior

Battery Park Book Exchange is more than just a bookstore–it is a place where books, bubbles, canines and humans coexist in a unique experience that will make you wonder why someone hadn’t thought of such a simple, yet wonderful idea before.

“People walk in all the time and you just see their eyes get big, and this is my dream. “You’ve got books and wine AND your dog friendly?’” said owner Donna Wright. 

The Book Exchange is relatively new, although one would be forgiven for thinking the building is much older. It looks and feels as much of an Asheville staple as The Biltmore, or Grove Park Inn. The stacks of old books, decor and ambiance call back to an era that conjures images of old Asheville denizens, like Zelda Fitzgerald, reading whilst sipping from a flute of one of their many fine champagnes. Owners, Thomas and Donna Wright decided to open a book store after Thomas retired from his manufacturing company. “[It had been] his dream to open a bookstore, but we knew we needed more than just books to sell to keep it active and going–so he’s the bibliophile and I’m the champagne girl.”

Inside the labyrinthian walls of Book Exchange, readers find it easy to lose themselves in book and bubble. There are so many nooks and crannies where it is easy to find seclusion and immerse oneself in a book or conversation. “You see that when people walk in they don’t realize how large [of a] space it is.” This type of layout makes it a great spot for first-time dates.“It’s ideal if you want to have a first date with somebody, it’s a lovely space, you’re safe in a public place, but you’re still intimate and have your own little seating area,” said Emily Kraink, Manager of the Battery Park Book Exchange.  

So where exactly did the name “Book Exchange” come from? “Book Exchange is just an old-fashioned way of talking about a Mercantile, you know, you exchange book for money, or you can get store credit here. You can actually trade your good book for wine, which is nice, but the name just came from this this whole area this whole block where the Grove Arcade is, Battery Park,” said Wright.  

The Battery Park Book Exchange is an Asheville gem, and it manages to embody the city of Asheville–both past and present– through its celebration of literature, fine wines, delicious foods and love of canines. There are many aspects of Battery Park Book Exchange that it make it special, yet the stacks of rare books lining the building are the glue that brings it all together. “We just sold a book we’ve had I think since we opened. We sold a first-edition of a  [signed] ‘Gone With the Wind.` I was almost shaking. It was a it was a young woman her dad was with her and she’s trying to decide if she can foot the bill and he said, “it’s on me.” Yeah, she was crying I was starting to cry is amazing. It’s a good moment.”

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