New Book explores the Independent Bookstores of West Virginia


FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – A new book by author Matt Browning, entitled “Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia,” celebrates the many independent bookstores of the Mountain State through feature stories, photos, interviews and essays. Browning will celebrate the book’s release with a launch party and signing Thursday, December 19, at 6 p.m. at The Grove in Fayetteville.

“Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia” profiles the character, charm, and history of the state’s many bookshops, and features insightful essays and interviews with such luminaries as West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman, best-selling author Rajia Hassib, longtime Charleston bookseller Gordon Simmons and others.

From Wheeling to Princeton, Browning spent months traveling West Virginia and visiting each shop in the state to meet booksellers, gather stories, and learn how indie shops are succeeding in the age of online retail.

Matt Browning

“For years, independent bookstores were on a downward trend thanks to chain retailers and online shopping,” Browning said. “Now, though, the indie shop is once again on the rise, and I wanted to learn how booksellers in West Virginia are not only surviving but thriving, while also providing readers a sort of road map to explore our state’s many wonderful stores.”

In addition to a feature write-up of each bookstore, the book also features essays and interviews with many of the state’s authors, booksellers, and others who share their own take on what makes independent bookstores so special. In addition, Browning explores additional places book lovers in West Virginia can seek out books beyond the standard shop, like antique stores, thrift stores and libraries.

In early December, Browning began a monthlong stay in Fayetteville as part of the New River Gorge Creative Residency at Lafayette Flats, a downtown vacation destination that provides writers, artists and other creatives a place to live and work on an artistic pursuit each winter. Browning is working on a new novel and promoting “Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia” during his residency.

Browning lives in South Charleston, West Virginia, and is represented by Stephen Fraser at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. “Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia” is his first book.

“Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia” retails for $19.95 and will be available for purchase at the launch party event. A list of additional retail locations and online purchasing is available at

The Grove is located at 103 Keller Ave. in Fayetteville.

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