Technically, it's named the "Atlanta Book Exchange," but most people I know are unaware that's the name -- they just know it as "Books," for reasons made clear by the signs above.
It's something of an icon, both for me and others. For me, because it was one of the first places I gravitated (along with Manuel's Tavern) when I first moved here. For the community at large, because it's been there for more than 30 years, something of an eternity in my neighborhood (the only places I can think of that have been around longer: Manuel's again and Atkins Park).
I've been meaning to write about the ABE/Books for a while, because -- in a lifetime of spending way too much time and money in used bookstores -- it's one of the few that stands out for me. (the others: Book Worm and now-defunct Stage House II in Boulder; Second Story Books in DC; and some place in St. Louis that I guess didn't really stand out that much, because I don't remember the name.) It's a small old house, packed floor-to-ceiling with books. Somehow, in very limited space, it turns into a maze. I've been there hundreds of times, and can still take wrong turns.
The selection is fantastic, particularly in history. I spend more time than I'd care to admit searching out books on Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and constantly find new titles when I'm searching through the stacks. It's the classic "go in to buy one -- come out with six" bookstore. The literature and travel sections are pretty swell, too (except for foreign literature, which is shunted off into an alcove, and kind of chaotic in its organization).
Now, the store is moving, sometime in the next month or so. While that's the kind of thing I'd normally bemoan, in this case, it looks like a winner all around. The new space looks (at least to my untrained eye) bigger -- and it's actually an even shorter walk from my place (granted, we're talking a reduction of five blocks to three, but hey).
And best of all -- it's going to be right across the street from Manuel's now. An afternoon spent browsing the shelves and then reading the new purchases as I get sloshed at Manuel's sounds immensely pleasurable.