Japanese-born poet and translator Miho Kinnas of Hilton Head Island wished there was a local place for people to gather and discuss books.
With the help of the Town of Hilton Head Island and the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, her wishes came true when she was able to open a pop-up bookstore in February.
A project of the Town’s Office of Cultural Affairs, An Island Bookshelf sells used books and books written by local authors, hosts author readings, and donates a percentage of its proceeds to Friends of the Hilton Head Library.
Every Friday and Saturday between noon and 4 p.m., Kinnas sets up shop at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on Hilton Head. People stop by after attending performances at the arts center and gallery exhibitions at the Art League of Hilton Head.
“I just want people to come by, and talk about arts, culture, books,” Kinnas said. “I meet some very interesting people.”
Some of her best customers are Arts Center employees. She also meets a mix of tourists and local residents. Some are repeat customers who stop by periodically because they know Kinnas has a nice collection of books.
Kinnas asks her customers what types of books they like to read and tries to offer a little of everything. She usually has a variety of nonfiction, short stories, poetry, art books and children’s books for sale. She purchases some of the books, while others are donated.
People often discover new authors and sometimes even get to meet those authors when they stop by An Island Bookshelf.
Kinnas has published two poetry books, “Today, Fish Only” and “Move Over, Birds.” Her poetry can also be found in a variety of journals and anthologies.
Kinnas has a couple of friends who help out with An Island Bookshelf when she can’t be there, and when the bookshelf hits the road for festivals and other events, but she would love to find more volunteers.
She needs people to organize the books and just be available to chat with people. She said there is no pressure to sell anything. Volunteers can even read a book or work on their own writing while manning the table.
Office of Cultural Affairs director Jenn McEwen said people really seem to enjoy the grassroots project.
“I would really love to see it blossom into a community literary space, where we can use it as a launching point for the network to present local authors as well as regional authors,” McEwen said. “I love that it is an outlet for local authors – both self-published and traditionally published – and also that it acts as a fundraiser for our library system.”
For more information about An Island Bookshelf or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.