At the corner of Speedway and 43rd Street in Austin in early August, under the watchful eye of his publicist, Taylor Bruce describes how his soon-to-open bookshop got its name.
“We went through a long process, my wife, Robin and I, on what we wanted the place to be called,” he says. “We wanted the name to represent a bigger picture.”
Standing outside First Light Books near the end of a torturously hot Texas summer, Bruce presents the property, which is still under construction.
“First Light is really attached to that feeling of the early morning and that sense of possibility,” he says. “You know, awakening.”
We’re standing on the side of the building that has the store’s outdoor patio and coffee window, which will be open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days a week. There’s just enough shade in the area to make the August heat semi-comfortable.
“The idea of First Light really does attach to what a book can do,” Bruce says. “Books are powerful. They can sort of change the way you think, plant a new idea.”
The building used to be a post office in Austin’s oldest suburb, but two years after its closure, it’s been reborn. Inside the renovated building, newly hired employees are unpacking thousands of books and running through test orders at the cafe.
Two weeks before the store’s Aug. 19 grand opening, I ask Bruce, a 10-year veteran of the publishing industry and first-time retail store owner, if he’s nervous.
“There’s certainly butterflies, because we know once we turn on the lights, it’s seven days a week, three sixty-five,” he says, then adding a caveat: “We’re excited.”