Broken Shelves selling beer, wine, books in Sun Center

David Astor, owner and operator of Broken Shelves, a new book store in the Sun Center that also sells beer, wine, coffee and tea, in Gainesville Monday April 22, 2013.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 5:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 5:37 p.m.

A new bookstore/bar opened April 5 on the southeast side of the Sun Center in downtown Gainesville.

Broken Shelves sells “good quality” used hardbacks and paperbacks in a variety of genres. The books line the shelves and lie on tables in a comfortable, eclectic living room-style atmosphere with artwork, chairs and couches. A handmade sweetbriar wood countertop lines a wall with large windows.

The store is a place to encourage and expand whatever customers are passionate about – whether it's reading, writing, drawing or knitting, said owner David Astor.

“It's sort of a pretension-free zone in here.”

The beer and wine selection, which is written on a chalkboard, includes Orange Blossom, Terrapin, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio.

Astor, 26, sold rare books while in college. He is now working remotely on a doctorate in intellectual history from King's College in London while he runs Broken Shelves with the help of two interns.

Broken Shelves is open from 5 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. or later, depending on the night's events or crowd. The store is closed on Sundays and typically stays open later on Friday and Saturday nights.

On Monday afternoon before the store opened, a woman stuck her head in to tell Astor: “You had a full house this weekend. It was so charming.”

Broken Shelves also sells “special” books, some of which are 50 to 60 years old and have been repaired -- and rare books, such as first editions by John Steinbeck and other authors.

Astor said his customers span a wide age range and that he is always interested in why they like a particular book.

“You never know why someone likes a book until you talk to them,” he said. “Ten people can like the same book for 10 different reasons.”

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