Best-Selling Author Leads Bookmarks into New Space

By Elizabeth Bergstone

Bookmarks recently opened its new “book store and community gathering space” in Downtown Winston-Salem. If you don’t know where to look, the store is a bit hard to find. Its actual address is 634 West Fourth Street, but to get to it you have to go down an alley that could perhaps be … a mews in London? … a street on the left bank in Paris? … or even the back entrance to Hogwarts! But don’t worry – take a left at the end and you’ll find the entrance to Bookmarks in a leafy courtyard. Free parking is available in their lot behind their store, which you access off Holly Avenue.

On Opening Day that courtyard was crowded with book buyers, bibliophiles, well-wishers and media folk, eagerly waiting for the doors to open. Opening remarks were made by Bookmarks’ president, Charlie Lovett, a well-known figure to Winston-Salem’s book lovers, being a New York Times best-selling author himself.

Charlie described how Bookmarks is more than just a bookstore. In one corner is a large, cheerful children’s area for reading and listening to stories, and in another area is a presentation space for visiting authors to read and talk about their works. Coming soon will be a café called Footnotes, to be run by Bookmarks’ neighbor, Foothills Brewery.

It was at a board retreat at Charlie’s house in 2016 that the decision was made to move forward on the long-held dream of having a bricks-and-mortar store. A capital campaign was announced in April 2016, and by December of that year there was enough support to enable Bookmarks to open with, according to Charlie, “zero debt and a significant reserve.” An enviable position for any non-profit organization!

Charlie Lovett’s early success as an author came about through his wife Janice, who was overseeing the third-grade drama program at Summit School. She was having a hard time finding plays that her students wanted to perform. Charlie wrote a play that was humorous and instantly appealed to the students. His subsequent plays were so well received that he was offered the position of Writer-in-Residence at Summit School, a position he held for 11 years. His plays have been performed all over the U.S. and in 20 foreign countries.

But throughout his career as a writer, Charlie has continued to write fiction. His most successful book to date is “The Bookman’s Tale” in which he combines both his love of rare books and the English countryside. This was the book that was to bring him fame and eventually land on the New York Times best-seller list. His latest book, “The Lost Book of the Grail,” also features antique, rare books, and is set in a small, English university town with a centuries-old cathedral with a mysterious secret.

Charlie’s love of England permeates the pages of his books; he and Janice spend part of the year in England, in a cottage in Cambridgeshire. But Charlie makes no bones about making his home here in Winston-Salem. He considers himself lucky to live here and looks forward to helping Bookmarks become the “intellectual soul of the community.”

Elizabeth Bergstone is the former editor of the Downtown Winston-Salem newspaper. She has written for numerous local publications including the Winston-Salem Journal. Currently she works as a voiceover actor and an audio book narrator.


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