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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Friendly City Books promotes local authors

The+bookstore+dog%2C+Scarlet%2C+has+her+own+book.+Customers+can+get+their+copy+pawtographed.
Courtesy Photo | Friendly City Books

The bookstore dog, Scarlet, has her own book. Customers can get their copy “pawtographed”.

Friendly City Books is a Columbus-based independent bookstore that serves as a community literary hub and publishes local authors.
Located just off Main Street in Columbus, Friendly City Books first opened its doors in December 2020 during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Emily Liner had considered opening a bookstore pre-pandemic, so when the Columbus Books-A-Million shut down in May 2020, she took that as a sign to start her business.
Liner said that the community, saddened by the loss of Books-A-Million, rallied around the idea of having a local independent bookstore.
“People love to walk into a bookstore and feel the books, touch the books and flip the pages,” Liner said. “We also have a staff full of people who are passionate about books. They always have great recommendations and can help you fall in love with your next read.” 
Friendly City Books invites visitors to explore a wide collection of poetry, novels and children’s books in the store. The store showcases a diverse array of national bestselling books as well as books written by local authors.
Visitors may see Scarlet, the bookstore dog, milling about. This beagle mix was rescued by Liner in 2017 and has been sort of a mascot for Friendly City Books since it opened. In between book recommendations, customers and staff make small talk as children sit in the kids’ corner coloring pictures of Scarlet to hang up under the checkout desk.
Liner has woven a community focus into Friendly City Books. She said that the store has monthly author events. Recently, they hosted Mississippi author Nyani Nkrumah’s statewide book tour where she marketed her debut novel, “Wade in the Water.”
Friendly City Books does not only showcase authors. The store held a show for music group Hartle Road as they celebrated their new release “Maxx II” on September 23.
Beyond retail, Friendly City Books plays a vital role in publishing local authors.
The bookstore dog is the star of her own illustrated children’s book, “Stretch Like Scarlet,” written by Liner. This was Friendly City Book’s first published title.
The store’s second published book is a poetry collection titled “How to Read” by Thomas Richardson, an instructor at the Mississippi School of Mathematics and Science. 
“The publishing opportunity was really a perfect fit for both of us. I knew Emily was looking to add a publishing wing to her new bookstore, and Emily knew I had my manuscript out to various contests and publishers’ open reading periods,” Richardson said.
Richardson gave himself five years to publish “How to Read” before he threw it out. He was entering year two when Liner approached him about publishing with Friendly City Books.
“I suppose it’s a bit of a risk to offer the result of five years of labor to a new and unproven company, but I trusted Emily innately and knew she had a solid plan,” Richardson said. “When I saw the quality of ‘Stretch Like Scarlet,’ I was even more confident.”
Richardson said “How to Read” has been a success since it was published.
“In many ways, my poems were born and bred in Columbus and are of Columbus, so I’m really happy that they have become part of a great local venture,” Richardson said.
Friendly City Books has only two published books so far, but Liner said they are planning to add more titles next year.
Mississippi State University students can hold an internship at the bookstore.
Abigail Voller, the Intern Coordinator for the MSU Department of English, said interns’ responsibilities included anything from taking inventory, writing book reviews, marketing and hosting programs at the store. Voller said that interning at Friendly City Books was an enjoyable experience that received glowing reviews from everyone who participated.
Liner said Friendly City Books will continue to support readers, students and authors by serving as a bridge to the community. 

About the Contributor
Kate Myers
Kate Myers, News Editor
Kate Myers is a freshman communication major. She currently serves as the News Editor. [email protected]
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Friendly City Books promotes local authors