The Arka Tech

‘A cozy little spot on B Street’: History professor and wife open bookstore

CLAUDIA YOUNG/THE ARKA TECH James Moses, history professor at Tech, has been infatuated with comics since he was a kid and has posters hanging up in his office.

A third bookstore has popped up in Russellville since April, but this store focuses on gently used books and comics.

B Street Books, run by Tech history professor James Moses and his wife, Anna, opened at the end of August. The couple saw that downtown Russellville was growing and thought that opening a bookstore would be fun. James said B Street is “the center of the action.”

“There’s this revitalization that’s going on downtown that’s fun to be a part of,” James said. “The bookstore was naturally a draw for us.”

After a few months of thought, the couple decided to pursue their love for books and create a business. Anna, an instructional development specialist for University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, cut her hours and is able to work from home four days of the week. She works until 10 a.m., then works at the bookstore until James comes in at 3 p.m.

When they started this journey, James said they had no idea that Hastings was closing or that other stores were opening.

“Hastings closing is a bad thing; we don’t like to see businesses close,” he said. “But on the other hand, it does create a certain opportunity. We’ve decided to do what we intended to in the first place, regardless of the other competition. There’s nothing we can do about that, and we wish them success, but we just want to do our little niche.”

James said B Street Book’s niche is good quality, new and used books, vintage comics and graphic novels.
“We don’t deal in raggedy books,” he said. “If the book isn’t in almost new condition, we don’t deal with it.”

James has been interested in comics since he was a boy.

“When I was a kid, I read all kinds of comics,” James said. “I was always partial to things like The Justice League and Superman. The DC stuff is a little more grounded in fantasy. The Marvel stuff tries to be real, in real cities with real situations and real problems. And you know, I’m a kid reading a comic. I don’t want for real, I want some fantasy.”

On top of vintage comics, James and Anna sell graded comics, which come vacuum-sealed and in a plastic case. James described them as “works of art.”

Collected comics are sent to a company that determines the book’s quality on a scale from one to 10. James said most of their graded comics are a 9.6 or 9.8. B Street Books’ graded comics sell from $20 to $195.

Most of the comics sold are from James’ own collection. He dreamed of starting an online comic bookstore, but never followed through with it. Instead, he sent in his comic books to be graded and is selling them now. Those that weren’t sent to be graded are being sold for $3 a piece.

“I get a kick out of people going through the boxes or spinner rack, looking and finding that little gem that they know is a good one,” James said.

James and Anna find books at yard sales, estate sales and library sales and their friends and colleagues give them boxes full of books. James said they buy books from people, but don’t do trades.

Although comics constitute a large part of B Street Books, they also have fiction, non-fiction, novels and mysteries.
James said their “history section has solid offerings” because he is a history professor. James will even have his own book on the shelves next year.

“I’ve written a number of articles for dry historical journals that no one’s ever heard of,” he said, laughing. “But I’m in the process of finishing a book for the University of Arkansas Press.”

The biography on Ira Sanders, a crusading rabbi in Little Rock, will be James’ first book.

“I’m very excited, but I’m also very anxious to get it over with,” he said. “I’ve been working on this project for quite a while and will be glad to see it finally show up in a bookstore.”

James said they both enjoy dealing with books and the people who come in, but they are prominent online as well. Every book sold in store is on the website, with a photo of the physical book.

“We’re just excited to be a part of this downtown development,” he said.

B Street Books offers a 10% discount to Tech students.

Visit them online or on their Facebook page, B Street Books.

Sunday-Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Friday: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.