LITTLETON - On the Fourth of July, a few days after ending a year-long closure prompted by COVID-19, Main Street Books in downtown Littleton offered a special promotion: Fill a bag for a dollar or fill a box for $5.

One bag - even a box - was not nearly enough for Roanoke Rapids’ Lian Elliott, who needed a literal cart to haul out her selections. It was that kind of year for book lovers like Lian who weren’t able to savor the experience of buying or checking out a book in some places. The neighboring Littleton Library had been open for checkouts, but not for browsing.

“This has been closed,” Main Street Books’ Evelyn Melton said. “Consequently, we have a gazillion books.”

Elliott did her part to help make space for new arrivals in the shop that debuted in March of 2018. William Mason Jr., who traveled up from Henderson, did too. Visitors that had been milling about town for the parade wandered in. And regulars like Clyde Johnston of the Littleton Board of Commissioners pored over titles, kneeling down as not to miss something on the bottom shelf.

“Clyde is shopping, honey,” Melton said, as not to disturb the process. “He loves it in here.”

A lot of folks do.

Main Street Books, operated by the Friends of the Library, initially opened because the town received so many donations of used books. The idea sort of started with stacks of old books before morphing into a full-fledged bookstore. On top of one shelf, in succession, sat books by Danielle Steel, John McCain and Theresa Saldana, along with a biography of Elizabeth Taylor by Donald Spoto.

“There’s always something new,” Elliott said. “It’s so well-organized. This is like a library that they just say, ‘Here for a dollar, you can just take home these books. You can keep them.’ It’s not like you have to bring them back. Unfortunately, my home looks like a library.”

Hers isn’t the only one. Melton said a few customers were waiting to run inside the store upon its reopening. Elliott only wishes she hadn’t had to wait three days before dropping in.

All five branches of the Halifax County Library System, including Main Street Books’ partner Littleton Library, reopened July 1 while still following several COVID-19-related guidelines including curb service for faxes, copies and book pickups. The libraries are open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Main Street Books is open Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Book donations are only accepted on Saturdays.

Main Street Books recently started back its summer reading program, one of many arms of its community outreach efforts.

“I think it’s very important because it brings the community together,” Geneva Coker of Main Street Books said. “It brings people together of all generations and ethnicities. It brings a lot of people to Littleton too.”

Coker, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a voracious reader herself. She enjoys books of the historical and inspirational variety. “I just like to read, period,” she said.

But isn’t it easier to just buy books online these days? Or download the book to an electronic device?

Sure, there’s a place for that, Melton and Coker say. But it can’t beat a day at the bookstore.

“Oh, I gotta have a book,” Melton said, and Coker reiterated, “I’d rather have a book.”

Main Street Books, at 116 S. Main Street, can be reached at 252-586-3608.