📚 Abraxas Books: A unique, hidden gem of a bookstore in Daytona Beach

Shop located at 256 S. Beach St. in historic downtown Daytona Beach Riverfront Shops area

James Sass, owner of Abraxas Books in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Jacob Langston, Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s like SeaWorld’s Shark Encounter, except you’re surrounded by books instead of sharks – although you’re not far from the ocean at Abraxas Books in Daytona Beach.

As you walk into James Sass’ book store, it feels like being wrapped in a weighted blanket, comforted by stacks of words and prose in an old storefront that use to be: a camera store, a funeral home, a grocery store, a gym, an antique store and a canvas and rigging shop.

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This isn’t your typical cookie-cutter book store, and Sass isn’t exactly a cookie-cutter shop owner.

Abraxas Books (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Sass’ journey in the book business started on the same block as his store in 1982, working for a book store that no longer exists. He worked there for nearly 20 years until that store’s proprietor decided to close shop. That led him a short walk away to an empty storefront with a “For Rent” sign in 2000, and the rest is history.

“I have a long history on Beach Street,” Sass said.

Sass’s love for books began as a “space alien thing,” as he described it. He said there wasn’t many “book people” in his immediate family, but he remembers living with grandparents when he was very young, and his grandfather working as a musician. His said his grandfather would go to the library to check out vinyl recordings and let him tag along, giving him “free rein” Sass said. “I didn’t have to restrict myself to the children’s books. I could go through and check out anything, which meant art books, war books, picture books.”

When asked what sets his store apart from other book stores, Sass said, “It’s not a paperback swap shop. I prefer heavier stuff – history, philosophy, science, fine arts.”

Abraxas Books (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

If you’ve been to his store in the past, you may have met his now semi-retired cat “Sterling” who is now 15 years old and mostly stays at home. Sterling is a rescue cat that ran out in front of Sass’s car as a kitten one day on Beach Street.

“He ran out in front of my car, so I pulled over. He let me pick him up. He just clung to me and buried his face under my arm, so I’ve had him every since,” he said.

Sterling, keeping an eye on the book store. (Abraxas Books)

Remember when I said Abraxas Books wasn’t your typical cookie-cutter book store?

“I like kind of creepy stuff, so I have creepy stuff around,” Sass said. He has skulls, a bust of Vlad the Impaler, old cameras, a pig’s skull and other odd bits and pieces that people have given him over the years around his shop.

Speaking of weird – in an odd twist, Sass later learned that the home that he owns and lives in used to be owned by a man that ran a grocery store in the 1920s in the same location as his book store.

If you dig books, Abraxas has you covered – almost literally. They seem to be stacked to the ceiling, even the register area is hidden behind stacks of books, creating a neat fort for Sass to escape in. Sass smiles as he recalls the time a customer came in talking on their cell phone and not seeing anyone in the store. The customer said, “Hold on. I’m going have to call you back. I think I just walked into the first scene of a horror film.”

When asked about his favorite book, Sass said, “I’m a reader, not a collector. My prized books are just the books that I’ve read 100 times.”

Abraxas Books is located at 256 S. Beach St. in the historic Downtown Daytona Beach Riverfront Shops area near the Veterans Memorial Bridge – or what’s commonly known as the Silver Beach Bridge.

Abraxas Books (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

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About the Author:

Jacob joined ClickOrlando.com in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.