The Book Tavern – Augusta Magazine

By Brian Panowich

The Independent Bookstore. It conjures up a certain feeling of warmth and comfort, doesn’t it? Like a sunny day on Main Street, or in our case, Broad Street. Or a cup of locally sourced hot coffee in an old-fashioned brown paper cup…maybe even with a folded local newspaper under your arm. You don’t have to be an avid reader to appreciate the aesthetics or charm of a good bookstore. Say what you want about restaurants, museums, parks, statues or even the Chamber of Commerce, but the independent bookstore is the real beating heart of any downtown community.

So let’s talk about ours for a moment: The Book Tavern, owned and operated by David Hutchison and his lovely wife, Gabi. And when I say it’s ours, I mean it’s the only one in town. Sure, we have a few big box stores that sell the latest trends and bestsellers or a few that dabble in second-hand books and novelty socks, but there’s only one independent bookstore. in the city of Augusta – the third largest city in the state of Georgia – and it’s a great respite from the madness of the outside world. There’s a store that focuses directly on your individual needs and knows exactly how to help, and that’s the magic of The Book Tavern.

David and Gabi originally opened the first incantation of their vision in downtown Augusta in the summer of 2004. While attending one of the community events hosted by The Book Tavern, I bluntly asked to David: “Why a bookstore? His response was both practical and whimsical dating back to his childhood. He told me he couldn’t remember exactly when he learned to read, just that he had always done it – and that books mattered. He told me that books are like this kind of amazing creatures. He said that through their stories and information, they not only add to people’s lives, but become things of beauty that we look back on as important landmarks in our lives. What else does it do? Works? People? Silver? I mean, sure, all of those things matter to some degree, but books help define and continue to inform who we become throughout our lives. He also went on to say – somewhat bittersweet – that owning a bookstore gives him less time to read. So if you think about it, the owners of these wonderful little shops, like David and Gobi, who inspire us, were born out of the sacrifice they make to bring this magical world to us. Pretty cool, right?

In a short time, The Book Tavern has become entrenched in the culture of downtown Augusta thanks to an experienced staff offering recommendations and an extreme dedication to the community it serves. And by community, I mean the ENTIRE community, since The Book Tavern has one of the largest culturally diverse book sections in the country. Believe me, I would know. I’ve been to hundreds of independent bookstores all over the US (and beyond) and would show David and Gabi’s shop to any of them.

Then, of course, came the pandemic. The Book Tavern, like many other small independent shops, had to close. For some that meant temporarily, but most of them were closing permanently. This is where the sacrifices of David and Gabi became very apparent. The community has come together to show the couple and the store the love they deserve in the form of cash donations and loyal support by staying off Amazon and keeping their purchases local. David and Gabi’s brilliant idea of ​​the “Surprise Care Package” which can still be found on The Book Tavern website today also helped a lot.

They stayed positive, worked day and night, and succeeded. This brings us to 2022 and the grand opening of The Book Tavern’s new location at 978 Broad Street. The new location is beautiful and welcoming. I took my kids there on opening day. We had a blast. Then we went next door to Nacho Mama’s and had lunch and read all the manga we had just scored from David.

The truth is, I really don’t need to sell the place. The book tavern is selling. It’s been a staple in Augusta for over two decades – and there’s a good reason for that. Because the right people own it. And they made it for all of us. And now it’s even bigger and better. Go check it out. Go buy some books. Attend one of the great upcoming events. And tell David and Gabi that Brian sent you.

Good reading.

(Photo by Hailea Boykin)

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