What building has the most stories?

We’re grateful to Very Local New Orleans for the lovely writeup about Faulkner House Books. Our new friend Marielle Songy did a wonderful job putting our story to words.


The bookstore was once inhabited by William Faulkner himself

Published on Friday, Apr 30th, 2021 by MARIELLE SONGY

Down an alley, just off Jackson Square, is a book lover’s sanctuary, where one can find a curated selection of Southern literature and classics. Located at 624 Pirates Alley, Faulkner House Books is in a townhouse that was built in 1837 that in the 1920s was home to famed writer, William Faulkner.

Founding a bookstore in Faulkner house

This two-room bookstore, decorated with beautiful antiques and fine mahogany bookcases was founded in 1988 by Joseph J. DeSalvo Jr. and his wife, Rosemary James. After buying the building, the couple did historical renovations on the property to make it the perfect spot to welcome bibliophiles from all over the world.

Joe and Rosemary called the store home and lived upstairs from the shop. Together they collected a selection of Southern literature and poetry and added a personal touch to all of their interactions here. They famously became friends with their customers, as well as many of the authors whose works they sold. Look around the shop and you’ll see photos of these famous authors on the wall — Harper Lee and Tennessee Williams offer inspiration as you browse the stacks.

The shop was named for William Faulkner, who completed his first novel, Soldiers’ Pay, while living here. Faulkner also wrote for New Orleans literary journal Double Dealer and was known to enjoy a cocktail or two and get into a bit of trouble in the French Quarter.

The next chapter for Faulkner House Books

After Joe and Rosemary retired, Garner Robinson and Devereaux Bell bought the shop in October 2019. Robinson grew up in New Orleans and worked an internship at the Faulkner Society. He became friends with Joe and Rosemary, so taking over the shop felt like a natural transition. He recruited his friend of 20 years, Bell, to sign on as co-owner.

“It was always my dream to own a bookstore and this has very much been a joint venture, since the beginning,” Robinson said. “Our goal was to keep the store exactly as Rosemary had it — to keep things at a certain level.”

“We want to keep the store true to what it’s always been,” Bell added.

A community center for readers

One thing that separates a bookstore like Faulkner House Books from the larger bookstore chains is the communication between the store and the customer.

Bell explained, “A store like this is one of the last places that has a personal relationship with its customers; we know them. People love the history of the place itself, and it’s a sort of community center.”

“We have a great relationship with the community,” Robinson added. “We have customers from outside of New Orleans who only get their books from us. We get plenty of tourists who visit, but we have a really great relationship with the locals.”

A personalized book subscription service

During the pandemic, it was the shop’s loyal customers as well as the shop’s subscription service that kept the doors open, even if the actual doors were closed for a while. Much of the credit should be given to store manager Joanne Sealy, who reads every book that comes into the store and has personal relationships with authors. Shopkeeper Peter Webb also has a personal relationship with regular visitors here.

“Joanne keeps a dossier on customers,” Robinson explained. “She can even have a conversation with someone and determine just what type of books she thinks they will like.”

Joanne’s skills are put to the test for their subscription service. On the Faulkner House Books website, you are asked to send a bit of information about yourself and, for a fee, Joanne will personally choose three to five books just for you.

Robinson said that if you want more of a relationship with your bookstore and those who sell your books, then Faulkner House Books is the shop for you.

“What makes our store special is our curated selection of books,” he said. “We think we have one of the largest selections of rare books and first editions in New Orleans.”

Indeed, the rare editions are something to behold, tucked away for safekeeping in a glass case. These books, which have passed through many hands throughout the years, would be the jewel to any customer’s collection.

Bell explained, “People missed hands-on shopping during the pandemic, and when you’re selling rare books, it’s hard to do that online. People want to come in and look at the book — touch it. If someone is spending that kind of money, they should be able to do that. People want that experience.”

Faulkner House Books has seen an uptick in its social media presence lately, thanks to Robinson’s wife Permele, who also runs her own digital marketing agency, Billion Dollar Boy.

“Permele has been outstanding and has really put an imprint on social media for us,” Garner Robinson said. “She makes personal posts about specific books and keeps us connected with our customers. She’s brought our interaction with our customers to another level.”

Faulkner House Books is the perfect place to spend hours. In this cozy shop, it’s hard not to lose yourself in an adventure as the world passes outside the door. In these walls, where masterpieces were written, you’re sure to find your own creative spark. 

Devereaux Bell said it best when we talked, “This place itself creates stories.”

Saying Goodbye to Joe

Sadly, Faulkner House Books lost its founding father over the holidays. Joe DaSalvo, who opened our little bookstore in 1988 with his wife, Rosemary James, died on December 30th at the age of 88. He was a gentleman and a friend, and he will be profoundly missed. With all the love in the world for books and the people who treasure them, he built this place. A place beloved and cherished by more people from more places than we ever imagined. The stories and well-wishes, the love and support we’ve received this past year, from customers new and old — it’s all a loving testament to Joe DaSalvo. 

The tour guides in Pirates’ Alley may talk of William Faulkner’s ghost showing up from time to time, visiting these rooms he once called home; but the abiding spirit of Faulkner House Books is, and always will be, Joe’s. 

Here’s a wonderful tribute to a wonderful life from The Advocate/Times-Picayune

MSN’s “Most breathtaking bookstores in America”

Faulkner House Books was featured in MSN’s piece today “The most breathtaking bookstores in America” where we are honored to be in position #2!


As they write, “Faulkner House Books occupies the ground floor of a home on New Orleans’ Pirate’s Alley, where William Faulkner lived when he completed his first novel in 1925. First editions from the famous Southern author and many other local favorites line the walls of this charming bookstore in the heart of the French Quarter, where affordable fun is abundant. Brick floors and antique furniture keep the Old World charm alive, and friendly staff members offer helpful insights for sifting through the small but expansive selection to find a new favorite book. In addition to wearing a mask, customers are required to sign in to a contact-tracing book so they can be reached if health workers need to track down a coronavirus outbreak.”

Faulkner House on the front page!

Although we wish it were for other reasons, our little bookstore was on the front page of today’s Times Picayune / New Orleans Advocate, in an article about the challenges of re-opening during the pandemic.

In the photograph by David Grunfeld, store co-owner Devereaux Bell “looks for a certain book” which we’re quite sure must be for one of our many happy subscription customers.

Quoting the article “Faulkner House Books, a mainstay for rare editions and fine literature in the French Quarter, opened May 18 and by the afternoon had sold five books to four customers, one of whom “was desperate for some Milton,” said manager Joanne Sealy. Sealy said her “tiny” store can only take three customers at a time now, and all sign in and need to wear masks and gloves. Hand sanitizer is trickier because of its potential to damage the books, and she trusts that her customers will know how to acquit themselves indoors during the first, tentative steps toward reopening.” But by far the best part of the article is Joanne casually inserting the word “maunder” into things:

“I don’t want people maundering over the books, but you do have to browse”

I’d never even heard of it before, but especially in these days of masks and droplets, “to talk in a rambling manner” is not something up with which one can put; and so it is wonderful to have such a succint word with which to protect oneself. Speaking of pandemic precautions, last week we were picked up in the paper for our old-fashioned contact tracing system:

And Steven Melendez of Very Local included our store in a smart piece about how New Orleans bookstores are coping with the crisis. There’s a nice mention of our growing Instagram page, with nearly 1,000 followers and counting, as well as some nice quotes from the store’s other co-owner, Garner Robinson:

“What makes a bookstore great in a community is it’s a gathering place, and now with the pandemic we can’t gather”

Also in the piece is a brief description of our subscription service, which although no longer in its infancy, we are still very excited to promote: “The bookstore has rolled out monthly subscription packs catered to individual tastes, based on a “dossier” built from a questionnaire submitted by interested customers and conversations with Faulkner House. “It’s been actually really nice now that we’re into our second month of it to see the repeat business,” said Robinson, explaining customers can also call to order individual selections if they prefer.”

New Orleans Magazine runs story on Faulkner subscription service

Kelly Massicot writes in the current edition of New Orleans Magazine about our new subscription service! Check out the full article here.

NEW ORLEANS – Faulkner House Books has announced the launch of a new book subscription service for local bibliophiles.

“If you’ve been to the store, Joanne has likely recommended a book or two that are now among your favorites,” said a press release about the new offer. “She’s been part of the store here in Pirate’s Alley for 25 years and gives the best reading advice around. Now you can get the same every month, delivered to your home.”

The service is a three-step process that includes picking a subscription option, answering a few questions to complete your dossier and then each month Joanne will select three to five books personally for your subscription each month.

The subscription packages range from $100 a month to $1,100 for a 12-month subscription.

Faulkner House: Percy editions

Dear friends,

As many of you know, last year my friend Devereaux and I partnered up to buy the historic Faulkner House bookstore here in New Orleans. We had a great first few months, thanks to our incredible staff, Joanne and Peter, and to the stream of visitors to the French Quarter, so many of whom venture down Pirate’s Alley to see us. We’re fortunate to have some longstanding customers who call in their orders, or trust us to choose books for them. But over 95% of our revenue comes from walk-ins, to whom our doors are closed during this quarantine.

Much of the store’s charm is the place itself, an 1837 townhouse where Faulkner himself lived while writing his first novel, Soldier’s Pay. Rosemary and Joe, who founded the bookstore, renovated and furnished the building exquisitely. We’ve never sold online, and don’t have so much as a cash register (although we do accept credit cards!). Like so many of you out there, we’re not quite sure what the future holds. But we’ve got more time than ever to read, and so far the deliveryman comes every day, dropping off new books coming in from our publishers and rare book “scouts,” and leaving with packages bound for our loyal customers.

We don’t have an online inventory to browse, but we’re known for our Southern and great classics, literature and poetry, and especially our rare and first editions. As an experiment, we’re going to start emailing selections to friends. If anything catches your eye, or if you’d like us to suggest something, call or email and we’ll drop it in the mail to you. We also offer gift certificates!

We’re starting with Walker Percy, a favorite Louisiana writer who was dear friends with the store’s former owners; unfortunately he passed away the very year Faulkner House opened. We have hardcover and paperback editions of all of his novels, as well as one of the best collections of rare and first editions around, including signed volumes. We also have a private collection of his photographs, letters, and other memorabilia, such as this 1978 letter to Professor Jay Martin at UC Irvine, alongside a 1950 photograph of Percy and wife Bunt vacationing in Cuba.


Especially these days with so much online and on-demand, owning a book is not just about the reading, it’s about the physical book itself: it’s history and patina. One of my favorite things about our collection is that we have such a range of editions. For example today I pulled out three first edition, first printing Percy novels.


This Moviegoer, with a signed book plate, is priced at $2700. We also have a gorgeous signed first/first Lost in the Cosmos for $100. While not as well known as Percy’s debut novel, his “Last Self Help Book” is a gorgeous edition to any library. And we have an unsigned first/first Second Coming for just $32. It almost makes you wonder why anyone would buy a new one!

But of course there are many reasons to buy new books, and we stock many, including these nice Picador editions of his novels, all priced in the $20 range.

If you’d like to order any of these, or any other books, or if you just want to chat about literature, please call or email us. And follow us on Instagram, where we’re starting to post some of our more interesting editions.

Stay safe out there!


44 Books To Read If Your Travel Plans Are Canceled

If you’re searching for the silver lining of your “self isolation” you could do worse than finding it in a good book. We have plenty here at the store, so put on your hazmat suit and come visit! Or better yet, give us a call and we’ll drop something in the mail.

For inspiration, check out Buzzfeed’s list of 44 Books To Read Over Spring Break If Your Travel Plans Are Canceled on which #18 is Faulkner’s Soldiers’ Pay, written right here in 624 Pirate’s Alley. Here’s what our Proprietor Devereaux Bell has to say about it:


“This novel was Faulkner’s first. It was the book that introduced us to one of America’s greatest novelists, while happily subverting the writer’s dream of becoming a poet. It was written in 1920s New Orleans, in the bohemian French Quarter, in the very room that is now our bookshop. Like so many other stories at the time, it’s about a soldier coming home, about the world he comes home to — which makes it deeply relevant even today, nearly a century after its publication. We are, like Faulkner, quietly aware of a far-off war and the soldiers it sends home, often broken and lost. Faulkner’s soldier is Donald Mahon, who returns to his small Georgia town after World War I, to a place where ‘time and space had stood still.’ He is scarred — both figuratively and literally (his face mangled by machine-gun fire). The town’s characters — all vividly drawn, with that exquisite independence of voice and perspective and voice that became Faulkner’s trademark — are jolted by Donald’s return. They had mourned him as dead, and moved on — even his own father. We see them in the midst of their wants and needs and hopes and dreams, a menagerie of paths consistently misaligned. Like all of Faulkner’s great novels of the postbellum South, Soldier’s Pay is at heart a story about bitterness and disappointment in the wake of war and change, told through the stale intimacies of ordinary lives.”

Faulkner Fete in the news

A few days ago the New Orleans Advocate / Times Picayune published a social roundup that included some great photos from the recent Happy Birthday, Mr Faulkner! event, an annual fundraiser for the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society. Here are some of our favorite photos from the event, at the Hotel Peter & Paul. Take a look!

Jana Napoli and Laura Lane McNealJana Napoli and Laura Lane McNeal

Tom Hill & Andrea DubeTom Hill & Andrea Dube

Jay Parini, Anne Simms Pincus, Permele Doyle, & Garner RobinsonJay Parini, Anne Simms Pincus, Permele Doyle, & Garner Robinson

Michael Harold, Rosary O'Neill, & Dr. Quinn Peeper Michael Harold, Rosary O’Neill, & Dr. Quinn Peeper