Bibliophile brings passion to new Arcade Mall store.

Ben Adams' life revolves around books, just like he always imagined. But the details have changed a bit.

Adams, 35, opened Odd Bird Books in the downtown Arcade Mall building at Main and Washington streets this week. The Columbia native had figured to put his master's degree in English to use as a writer, but that road diverged post-graduate school.

"A lot of writers end up owning bookstores," Adams said. "It isn't discouraged writers are becoming bookstore owners because they give up or something. It's just that you can channel that same kind of impulse into other projects. Literary culture, I think, is what my life's work is going to be not necessarily writing books but kind of promoting and advancing literacy.

"I realized that I don't necessarily need to create books, but I like them and I like advocating. I like to talk about them."

After stints as a copy aide at the Washington Post and in publishing in New York, Adams settled into running a bookstore in Charleston. In the back of his mind, he figured he'd come home to Columbia one day, but that plan picked up speed late last year.

Adams had decided not to renew his Charleston lease and was manning a pop-up book booth at Soda City market. Casting about for a permanent home, Adams said he sent a "shot in the dark" email to Jenna Bridgers, vice president of recruitment at downtown development arm City Center Partnership. Bridgers told him about a soon-to-be-available opportunity in the Arcade Mall.

"I did not think it was going to move this quickly at all, so I had to kind of get busy on my end," said Adams, who packed up his things in Charleston and moved back to Columbia, settling in for the moment with his parents, who "cut me a little slack," he said. "I wasn't just hanging out on the couch when I got back. I was already doing a lot.

"It's been a whirlwind couple of months. As soon as I loaded up the truck in Charleston and got here, I've just been going nonstop."

Adams spent January procuring books from a distributor and designing Odd Bird Books' website. His cozy shop features fiction, children's books and nonfiction genres including history, science and philosophy, along with a sprinkling of cookbooks.

Odd Bird Books' name has no particular meaning, other than Adams wanted something easy to remember and...

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