Imagine a community bookstore in a historic building full of color, life, and charm. A place where local artists are welcome, and people passing by the storefront window come into read because they are so drawn to the aesthetic of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and fun, eclectic vintage furnishings, that they just can’t help but walk inside! Welcome to The Author Shoppe in downtown Hattiesburg, where everyone is welcome.
The Author Shoppe offers all things Mississippi, followed by general southern literature and will be celebrating its third anniversary this May. The owners are husband and wife Murph and Erin Little, along with a former professor of theirs, Allison Chestnut. Chestnut is a professor of literature at William Carey University and has dreamed of opening her own bookstore since childhood.
“We all wanted to open a bookstore and believe this is good for Hattiesburg. For Allison, it was a childhood dream, and for myself and Erin, we wanted to provide an outlet for artists to gather in Hattiesburg, outside of the University,” Murph said. “When Erin and I were dating, we used to walk around downtown Hattiesburg, and we used to walk by these old derelict buildings and talk about their potential and what business we would put in there one day.”
The books inside The Author Shoppe are both new and used, and they are curated by the community through donations and contributions from local artists. The local bookstore also sells author-inspired merchandise and there is a great emphasis on local and Mississippi writers. The shoppe also hosts book signings every Saturday.
“We are passionate about recognizing local writers for their work, and we are happy to provide a space for them to have a book signing,” Murph shared.
This downtown Hubcity gem also provides coffee and beer on draft and hosts an open mic night every first and third Thursday of each month. Guests will also notice that the business’s mascot is a bear with a Hemingway turtleneck, which they lovingly call “Hemingbear.”
Murph built the shelves and designed the inside of The Author Shoppe to make the aesthetic inviting for everyone.
“There is a wow factor here, and it’s gratifying to hear people on the street talk about our space and come inside,” Murph said. “Our motto is ‘Be cool.’ By that, we want to make our shoppe relatable and welcoming for everyone so that they want to come in and read. We’re trying to make reading cool again.”
The Author Shoppe is a one-of-a-kind literary space that can’t be replicated. Designed with passion and intention, the Littles and Chestnut share a common goal: “We want Hattiesburg to be a place where writers, readers, and artists feel welcome. A cafe society for all to meet, read, talk, and enjoy. That’s our goal.”
The Author Shoppe, is leading a literary movement to encourage reading while inspiring and supporting present and future writers.