Sarah Fucci has always loved books.

"I love to read, and I have hundreds of books at home," said Fucci, the owner of I Said "Read Me", a new bookstore she has opened at 14 West Broad Street in Tamaqua.

"To be surrounded by books has always been one of my dreams. I wanted to have a home with a large library, and this is the next best thing."

The Andreas native is now getting the chance to share her passion with the Tamaqua community. The store held an open house on Saturday, March 20, with an official ribbon cutting on Monday.

Fucci said it was Allison Sanders, the store's assistant manager, who came up with the quirky name for the book shop.

"We both have a sarcastic sense of humor, and it was something Allison just blurted out when I asked what we should call it," explained Fucci.

Fucci said she was inspired to open the store when Waldenbooks closed their stores in local malls. "Everybody I know doesn't want to drive to Allentown or Scranton to buy books," she related.

Currently, about 70 percent of the books on the store's shelves are used. Fucci said she has tons of books in storage which will find their ways into stock."We also have some new releases," she added.

With the success of online book retailers such as Amazon.com, more people are doing their book buying on the Internet than ever, and Fucci is aware of that trend.

"Our prices are comparable to Amazon's," she noted. "Our used books are priced like that, minus the shipping cost.

"We are already planning to expand and soon you will be able to request a book online and we will have it in the store within five days."

Fucci stressed that I Said "Read Me" is working to appeal to a cross section of the community, including a younger clientele.

"Kids here don't have any place to hang out, so we have WIFI Internet accessibility here, as well as PS3 (Play Station 3) online and some video games, too," she mentioned.

The store will also be hosting events, such as a book club, Gaming Night, Scrabble Night, Children's Storytime and Poetry Night. Most of these are in the planning stages.

The store will host an art show from April 12-19 in honor of the Week of the Young Child, which will feature the artwork of the children from the Child Development, Inc., Tamaqua center.

Storytime with the Easter Bunny will be held on Saturday, April 3 from 10-11 a.m., 1-2 p.m. and 6-7 p.m., with the Bunny reading "Easter Bunny's on His Way".

Fucci said she plans to have as many events free to the public as possible.

The store is also making a nod to local heritage. A flat-screen TV currently features images of Tamaqua at various stages of its history, and Fucci said she wants to work with the Tamaqua Historical Society for videos and memorabilia.

The store will also reserve space to showcase the work of local artists on its shelves and walls, and Fucci said artists are welcome to sell their work on consignment.

The shop also includes a cafe that features flavored coffees, cappuccinos, espressos, lattes and teas. Over the summer, Fucci plans to add an Italian soda fountain and maybe fruit smoothies, too.

"I am thrilled to death that this is here," said Linda Yulanavage, executive director of the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce. "It fulfills a need in the downtown and is a good use for the Main Street and the community. The coffee's good, too."

"Everyone's welcome, whether you are coming in to buy a book or just browse and look around," Fucci stated.

I Said "Read Me" is open Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is closed Mondays. The phone number is (570) 668-BOOK; the fax number is (570) 668-2664.

The store can also be reached by e-mail at isaidreadme@yahoo.com.