Owned by Atlantan Frank Reiss, A Cappella Books has survived and thrived through the turmoil of online book sales. Today, Reiss’ success allows him to support the literary community, including events featuring Malcolm Gladwell (Oct. 10, Ferst Center for the Arts) and Rachel Maddow (Oct. 13, Fox Theatre). Here, the novel savant sounds off.
What prompted you to open A Cappella Books in 1989? I was 27 years old, had a degree in Latin and had spent the past five years managing an antiquarian bookstore in San Francisco. After a falling out with my boss (we have remained lifelong friends), I moved back home to Atlanta and thought it would be a good time in life to see if I could make a go of it on my own.
What keeps A Cappella thriving? Today, independent bookstores like ours are actually enjoying a renaissance. A good bookstore has to be part of its community, and we are fortunate to be in a part of town [Inman Park] that has always understood the importance of community. People who live here understand what makes life worth living: beauty, music, art, food, history, a sense of place, travel, good neighbors, justice, open-mindedness, public-spiritedness, diversity. Books are always central to those pursuits.
What are your plans for the future? We have been celebrating all year by featuring A Cappella’s 30—the 30 books that have been published since we opened that most embody what our store is all about. We’re planning a big concert at the end of the year. Last year, we bought the beautiful old building that has housed our store since 2012—we spend a lot of time dreaming of improvements to enhance the A Cappella experience for our customers and our booksellers.