Addison’s bookstore in downtown Knoxville sells old and rare books


A good book is not just about the author or the story. Great covers, bindings, illustrations, and quirky subject matter all make for a book that Brian Worley loves and would love to own.

“They don’t make them like that anymore,” Worley told Knox News as he flipped through “A Book of Sweethearts,” a 1908 collection of pictures and decorations — his favorite classic book right now.

The book is just one of about 8,000 he plans to offer at Addison’s, a rare book, used book and special collections store slated to open by the end of May. at 126 S.Gay St.

“I’ve always been interested in how they make the books, how they bind the books — the whole history of book publishers and first editions, first authors,” Worley said. “So I decided I wanted to open a bookstore that would be unique.”

Beyond rare and used books, the store will offer event space, a historical environment and a collection of specialty teas.

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What types of books will be sold?

In short, anything interesting. A book Worley showed Knox News featured illustrations of cats. Another specialized book is by former Alabama football coach Bear Bryant.

Brian Worley plans to donate about 8,000 pounds when he opens Addison's at 126 S. Gay St. in downtown Knoxville.  Currently, her favorite book in Addison's catalog is

There are old and rare books on witchcraft, cooking, and American history. There is even a brochure on the New York World’s Fair and many poems.

“There’s a specialist…(who) has been collecting, preserving and appraising rare and antiquarian books for 30 years,” Worley said. “And so, I slowly bought up her inventory. … It’s a very, very steep learning curve to learn how to appraise books.”

The oldest book in Worley’s collection dates from the late 1600s, he told Knox News. Book prices at Addison, which is a household name, can range from $5 “up to a few thousand,” he said.

What’s so special about space?

Prior to Addison, the space was Worley’s data analysis office. His business was taken over by a San Francisco company, which led him to pursue his lifelong dream of opening a bookstore.

“I kind of jumped over my youth to get here,” Worley said. “I grew up in Knoxville in Fountain City. … I used to take two buses downtown when I lived in Fountain City to go to Gateway (Books). That was there for a long time.”

Addison's first floor at 126 S. Gay St. will feature comfortable seating, a tea bar, and numerous antique and rare books, including at least one dating back to the late 1600s. The two-story space measures approximately 2,800 square feet and the ground floor will house special collections.

The Gay Street location proved to be the perfect environment for his new venture.

The approximately 2,800 square foot space is spread over two floors and features exposed brickwork, hardwood floors, and a beautiful staircase. Worley said he’s adding tables and sofas on the upper floor to encourage people to hang out in the space — not just shop.

“I’m very careful in that regard, I don’t really expect anyone to come and buy a book,” he said. “I expect them to come in and enjoy a book. … These rare books – it’s like a treasure hunt.”

It's not just the authors or the stories that make the books special for Brian Worley, owner of the upcoming Addison Bookstore at 126 S. Gay St. in downtown Knoxville.  Strange covers, bindings and subject matter are part of what makes a book worth owning, he said.

The ground floor will house a rotation of special collections, as well as a television that can accommodate classic films. Upstairs will have a bar for coffee and tea, and alcohol might be available for special events.

What about events?

Like many books, Worley said, the space is beautiful. He envisions that groups large and small would like to hold meetings and events in the space.

Workers sort through books at the upcoming Addison's Bookstore on Gay Street to decide on prices and descriptions ahead of the opening, scheduled for the end of May.  Some books will be as cheap as $5, while others might cost upwards of $1,000.

While Addison’s could host its own events, Worley said, people could rent the entire space and hire a caterer.

People will be able to rent the space and attend special events after bookstore hours, currently 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

“From a business perspective, I expect events to be an important part of the business, but not interfere with the look and feel of the bookstore,” Worley said.

Can you tell me about the teas?

Filter coffee and a selection of teas will be available at all times. Stéphanie Weir, supervised by an expert in Chinese tea, will be regularly at the bookstore to offer high-end specialty teas.

Official “tea ceremonies” will be an option for guests who wish to take their time to enjoy the flavors during an hour-long session. Customers could also simply order tea to be served at their seat in traditional Chinese fashion.


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