Sunday, December 4, 2016

Bob's Used Books - Charleston, IL

Bob's Used Books, Charleston, IL
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So, what does a bookstore owner do after he/she sells their bookstore?  Why, buy another bookstore of course!  That's exactly what Joe and Lisa J. did.  Joe was the owner of the legendary and long-running Myopic Books in Chicago (no, I haven't been there yet, it's on my list).  He and his wife decided to leave Chicago and settle in Charleston, IL, a small college town in east central Illinois.  But this town was missing the one thing ALL small towns need, an independent bookstore.  With Joe's experience and knowledge in the business, it was a no-brainer for he and his wife to give Charleston an independent bookstore.

Bob's is a one-level bookstore with a great corner location on the downtown square.  They've only been open for a year and a half and things are going well.  The store offers all used books with the exception of some new books by local authors.  The store doesn't offer any sidelines but what they do have is a very active events schedule.  Used book stores don't always have many events but that's not true of Bob's.  On Monday night, drop in and play some chess.  On Wednesdays, come in and participate in open mic night where just about anything goes.  Or come in on Saturday night for music improv night.  You don't have to read music or bring an instrument, Bob's will have you covered.  And as if this isn't enough, they also host author events and readings.  On Halloween, you can bring the kids by for a free children's books (your dentist will thank you).  I think this would be a great idea for other indies.  All creative ideas to bring people into the store.

Joe and Lisa don't have to look for books because the books come to them.  They offer cash or store credit and also receive donated books.  If you're looking for romance, westerns, or text books, don't come here (ok that's extreme, come here but look for other genres).  If you're looking for a well-organized store with a  breadth of inventory, this is the place. They also do business on their website which amounts to about one-quarter of their revenue, an important portion for their margin.  The store draws largely local customers, including from the local college community.  They also have customers from as far away as Terre Haute and Effingham, towns without an independent bookstore.  Whoever visits will enjoy free parking right on the street.

But my biggest question is, who the heck is Bob?  Joe's the owner, he's not Bob.  Bob is Joe's dad who can walk into the store anytime, pick up some books, and say, "This is MY store!"  Take it from me, Bob has a GREAT store.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Blood Brothers, Ernst Haffner.  Written by this German author and originally released in 1932, this is about gangs of 15-19 year old boys in Berlin  during the 1930s and their struggle to simply survive.  The book was banned by the Nazis and burned.  This translation was recently released in 2015. The book is a work of fiction but you can imagine there is a lot of truth in this story.  This is the author's only known and surviving work.  Highly recommended.

Night Of The Animals, Bill Broun.  Story takes place in the not too distant future in London where an old homeless man hear's animal's voices in his head.  These voices are the only animals left in the world and are in the London Zoo.  They're asking him to set them free.  Too verbose, too much English vocab which didn't give the book any kind of flow as far as I was concerned.  Didn't like this at all.    

CURRENTLY READING:  Old Age, A Beginner's Guide, Michael Kinsley.  

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Man With The Golden Arm, Nelson Algren.  Father And Son, Larry Brown.  

Another exterior view.  Conscientious readers may recognize the celebrity browsing the book table.  Yes, that's my mom.    

Before you enter the store, glance over your shoulder at this beautiful government building on the center of the square.  

Man, this would look good on my front porch!

How often can you browse books outside an Illinois indie on a late November day?!

One of the display windows with a great arch made out of books.  

View looking straight through the store from the front entrance.  

Looking to the right from the front entrance.  

Check out some of the table displays of recent arrivals, just inside the front entrance.  

Have a seat by this cat and try out a book.  

This is one of the tables where you can enjoy a game of chess.  

A great place to sit and sample a book.  

Amazon does not offer a bathroom.  

Lots of genres to choose from.  Something for everyone.  

Step into this room to find a page-turner.  

You can find lots of ideas here for holiday gifts.  

Head up the stairway to the balcony in the back of the store for more selections.  

A very comfortable room in the balcony.  

View from the balcony looking toward the front of the store.  

Little chairs for little readers, upstairs.  

Another view looking down on the main floor.  

A portion of the children's section.  

With Joe on the left and Lisa in the center, the fine owners at Bob's Used Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  

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