BROOKSVILLE — Maria Male-Basile picked up a lovely tome, forest green faux leather cover, scripted in gold — Unspoken Sermons.
"Now that sounds interesting," she said. "I wonder where I got it?"
Male-Basile was sorting a stash of once-read books — purchases from estate and yard sales, thrift shops and leftovers sales, with which she fuels her inventory at Inner Peace Bookstore.
The shop focuses on titles "that help people with their lives," she said — spiritual enlightenment, grief and grieving, health, parenting, psychology, pet care, for instance — but also offers popular fiction, classics, biographies, reference works, you name it.
The unassuming storefront is too often unnoticed as drivers leave the downtown rush toward the awkward Y intersection where W Jefferson Street spills left-handedly toward Broad Street. On the left sits the bookstore, adjoined to Inner Peace Ministry Thrift Store.
First-timers who step through the bookstore door discover a bibliophile's heaven: books so needing space they're stashed horizontally atop upright volumes; unexpected, shadowy side rooms; hand-lettered signs with arrows pointing to this collection or another one, all inviting investigation in the imagined environs of an olde English antiquarian bookseller.
And as at 84 Charing Cross Road, Male-Basile, 64, knows where every subject category resides, as well as most of the authors and titles.
Best of all, she says, "I love books. I get excited over books."
"We're always organizing and reorganizing," she added. "And if we don't have it, we order it for them."
A steady number of customers prefer that Male-Basile order online choices for them so they don't have to divulge their credit card numbers on the Internet. The shop owner also is able to discount preprinted prices by 10 percent to 20 percent.
Whether ordered at customer request or new books Male-Basile chooses to stock from publishers' lists, even used titles she picks up, the owner said, "We try to get a good price so we can pass that on to our customers."
To price the used books, she first researches their availability and demand.
As for demand, "The Bible is our bestseller," from $2 to $30, said the longtime owner. Churches are big buyers, seeking many for study groups. By comparison, Male-Basile said, a Bible in a popular translation starts at about $30.
In addition to Christianity, spiritual titles include Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, astrology, the psychic and others.
"Cookbooks are popular," likely the second-most sought after category, Male-Basile said. The offerings range to titles regarding diabetic, heart healthy, diet stratagems and method cookery.
Encouraged by her own degenerative eye disease, Male-Basile seeks out big-print books to offer others. She also stocks audio books, CDs and DVDs.
Because she also manages a nearby motel, shop hours are limited to Wednesday through Friday.
"I'm thinking of opening on Saturdays for people who work," Male-Basile said.
Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]