LOGAN — On Friday, Jan. 17, the Hot Cup in downtown Logan hosted a book signing for Logan native Matt Browning, communications director at West Virginia State University. His book, “Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia,” was published by West Virginia State University Press last December.
Browning decided to dedicate his book to the late Tracy Baisden, his English teacher at Logan High School.
“It was in her class where I really felt like writing could be something I could do as a career,” he said.
His idea for the book came as a result of his travels throughout the Mountain State.
“As a hobby, when I was traveling, I kept going to independent bookstores,” he said. “I was Instagramming them on my social media page, and it kind of took off. I found a bit of a following, and I thought, ‘Maybe there’s a book in all of that.’ ”
The result was “Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia” — a collection of reviews and color photographs of more than 30 independent bookstores in the state, accompanied with their locations, descriptions and quotes from their booksellers.
“It came together beautifully,” Browning said. “It looks beautiful. It’s well-edited, and it’s a polished final product. I couldn’t be happier, without a doubt.”
Included in the book is Michael Esposito’s Stratton Street Bookstore in downtown Logan.
“The store exudes a certain old-fashioned charm,” Browning wrote. “Customers ... will find plenty of charm, plenty of books, and plenty of Appalachian hospitality in Michael.”
“‘Bookstore Explorer: West Virginia’ is an excellent review of bookstores in West Virginia,” Esposito said. “Where would we be without books? Likewise, where would we be without bookstores to make those books available to people? A book can change a person’s life.”
Browning autographed and sold 20 copies at Hot Cup. He donated the proceeds to the L.T. Baisden Memorial Scholarship in honor of his former teacher.
“I want people of West Virginia or anywhere that reads this book to know that bookstores are a tourist destination,” Browning said. “People think that independent bookstores are sort of a dying breed. They’re not. The research has shown in the past several years that your independents are on the way back up and your chain shops are on the way down. People want to shop small and shop local and support local business, and the independent bookstore is the perfect example of that.”