Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Square Books - Oxford, MS

Square Books - Oxford, MS
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This really isn't a bookstore.  It's more like a CAMPUS.  There's bookstores everywhere in this town.  Heck, there's so many you can't throw a rock without hitting one.  Yes readers, I know I exaggerate.  But you will find three great bookstores on the historic square of Oxford, MS.  I never know what to anticipate on these visits but everything here exceeded my expectations in every way.

Square Books is located in a corner building that is well over a century old.  Before becoming a bookstore this building was a drugstore where you could also grab some Fortune Ice Cream.  Now it houses a two-level bookstore with a mezzanine level, all jam packed with books.  There are lots of places to sit on both levels and there is also an outdoor porch on the 2nd level you can go to when the weather is nice.  There are some sidelines here but you'll find many more at the Off Square Books, in the next block.  They also have used books and remainders in Off Square Books.  Customers who bring in books can receive cash or store credit, but the better deal is store credit.  Off Square Books is also where they hold author events, of which there are many.  I'm sorry to say you won't find a children's section in Square Books.  But that's ok, they have their own store for that, Square Books Junior, also located on the square and easy walking distance.  How impressive it is that they have a separate store just for children?!

It was wonderful to meet Richard H., the owner, and Lyn, the manager.  They were very gracious to talk to me about the store and the business, a business that has been around since the 70s and in its current location since the 80s.  Richard indicated to me that community support is strong and there is also good business with tourists as well as with those associated with the university, Ole Miss.  I also enjoyed talking to Leita, Paul, and Jill over at Square Books Junior, all of them great ambassadors for Square Books.  Another reason for the longevity of this fine indie is that there is no chain bookstore here.  This town of approximately 20,000 is too small for the chains which is an advantage for Square Books.

When I was talking to Richard I compared this place to Powell's in Portland, OR and all its stores.  He smiled, thought for a moment, and said, "maybe an infant Powell's!"  Make a point of visiting this bookstore in Oxford.  Soak up some history, feel the spirit of William Faulkner, sense a John Grisham novel around the courthouse, check out all the framed pictures of authors who have visited, and carve out enough time to visit all three of these wonderful stores of Square Books.  I can guarantee you won't leave empty handed.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger.  Summer of 1961 and a Methodist minister and his family in a small Minnesota town deal with tragedies in the community.  This book is outstanding.  Highly recommended.

CURRENTLY READING:  Team Of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Knight's Gambit, William Faulkner.  If you're in Oxford, MS, you pick up a Faulkner.  Ever Is A Long Time, W. Ralph Eubanks.

I couldn't resist this picture.  The historic courthouse in the square.  Viewed from Square Books.  All I can think about when I see this are John Grisham novels.  

A great window display.  Conscientious readers may notice the rare celebrity sighting on the right.  Yes, that's my mom.  

Another fine window display.  

View looking into the store from the entrance.  

A great place to sit and try out a book.
A great display of staff picks.  
Take these steps upstairs to find these sections.  Get your coffee at the cafe on the second level.  

The walls of the entire store are covered with framed photos of authors who have visited here.  

Great seating upstairs to read a book.  

Some greeting cards here at Square Books.  LOTS of sidelines down the street at Off Square Books.  

In this store you have fiction...

... and then you have Faulkner.  

Signed books and signed first editions can be found here.  

A portion of the local interests you can find here.  

View of the mezzanine level.  

View of the bookstore looking toward the front, from the mezzanine level.  

A few additional sidelines and some great seats!

I love this display for books and the artistry of this cabinet.  

The balcony here has a storied history of author gatherings.  When they rebuilt it, the original balcony pieces became a sideline.  You won't find this at any other indie!  

Off Square Books.  Think of it as a lifestyle store with the variety of sidelines and selection of used books.  Author events are also held here.  

View looking toward the rear of Off Square Books.  An eager customer jumped in front of my camera as I was taking the picture.  

Unique socks that you won't find anywhere else.  

This is in the rear of Off Square Books and the area where the authors hold their events.  

Looking from the rear of Off Square Books toward the front of the store.  Some towns don't even have something this good for their primary bookstore, if they have a bookstore at all.  

You will find bargains here.  

Square Books Junior, the children's bookstore.  Square Books was originally located on the 2nd floor of this space.  

View of Square Books Junior looking to the back of the store from the entrance.  

More than just books here.  

From the rear of Square Books Junior looking toward the front of the store.  

Richard on the left and Lyn in the middle.  Thanks for a great visit! 

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