Don’t let the unassuming cover of this seemingly small bookstore fool you.
There’s a voluminous world of reading behind that front door at NU2YU Bookstucked away in three units of a storage facility at 2624 Aurora Road in Melbourne.
This book lover’s dream of a place houses hundreds of thousands of used books on countless topics — from manga to memoirs, rock stars to geology, history to the heavens.
“I always says it’s like a TARDIS from ‘Doctor Who’ — a lot bigger than it looks from the outside,” said Rochelle Hack, who owns and operates the store with her brother, Jeremy Hack.
And is it ever bigger, row after row, shelf after painstakingly arranged, soaring shelf.
Fiction and non-fiction. Paperbacks, hardbacks, audiobooks, antiques. Books for children, young adults and adults. Every imaginable genre and an endless lineup of authors.
Who’s a given in that lineup? Think James Patterson: “He’s in practically every genre now,” said Rochelle. For kids, “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” fiction series, by Jeff Kinney, is kind of a gateway for kids who don’t like to read or struggle to read. And the Nancy Drew series is still popular, too — 92 years after the female counterpart to the Hardy Boys was introduced.
Whether you’re looking for old Hollywood history or Sherlock Holmes, cookbooks or romance novels, these two can lead you straight to it. Or if it’s in the computer, and you can come up with a description of the book, or an idea of the cover, the two will Google away until they can figure out where it is.
“We both have photographic memories,” Rochelle said. “It helps.”
Getting into the book biz
The duo, raised in Melbourne, took over the business in 2018 from their brother and sister-in-law, who purchased it from the original owner in 2008. He was a family friend whose health was declining and who once sold books at a flea market, but the Hack family “didn’t want it to close,” Rochelle said.
It was no leap of faith for Rochelle and Jeremy to jump in four years ago. The two, who were homeschooled, are avid readers and lifelong learners.
Jeremy, 22, has always been a military history and aviation buff.
Rochelle, 29, leaned toward historical fiction as a kid; One of her sisters, fantasy, and another sister, westerns.
“As children, we would all pick one of our favorite books and read aloud to each other so that we could get a taste of everything,” she said.
The supply here — most of which ranges between $1 and $10 — never dwindles. People can come in with stacks of books and receive store credit. The biggest loads of offerings come in as people move, or when someone passes away.
There was some worry, especially in the first months of the pandemic when most everyone was closed, about the store’s future.
Instead, the Hacks welcomed people vacationing in Florida. People from other countries and states and just down the road.
Reading became, or continued to be, a bright spot for customers as the pandemic changed the pace of life, said Jeremy.
‘For some, reading was just something to do,’ he said. “But I think it’s given people an escape, a peek into another world. Even if it’s just for a few chapters at a time.”
For some, a trip to NU2YU is a gift — the Hacks love it when people come in and announce they’re giving themselves books as a birthday treat.
On a recent trip, Sue Darby pored over a shelf of audiobooks, including selections from Mario Puzo and Bill O’Reilly.
“They do an amazing job here,” she said as she paid. “This place is a treasure and a lot of people don’t even know it’s here.”
It’s time-consuming, this business, and it’s not a cash cow.
“It’s a labor of love,” Rochelle said. “You don’t go into this to be a billionaire.”
But there are non-monetary rewards, like being surrounded all day by books.
Or seeing someone find what they didn’t realize they wanted.
Or the surprise on someone’s face when they come in expecting a book nook and find instead a reading windfall.
“One guy came in and had just landed at the Melbourne airport,” Rochelle said. And he said, ‘The person next to me on the plane said, ‘You have to go to this bookstore in Melbourne.’ People will come from Rockledge or Cocoa, or say they heard about us in Vero Beach. And I’m just blown away.”
Contact Kennerly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @bybrittkennerly Facebook: /bybrittkennerly. Local journalism like this needs your support. Consider subscribing to your local newspaper. See our current offers.