Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Our Town Books - Jacksonville, IL


Our Town Books, Jacksonville, IL

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This is one of those stores you visit and you wonder how in the heck they do it.  How does a store like Our Town Books enjoy sustained success over a 10-year period given its location?  It's in a small town of approximately 18,000 surrounded by other small towns with no real metropolitan area nearby.  It's not a particularly booming tourist destination except for some Lincoln history buffs.  The store's location is on the downtown square, a decent but improving location thanks to downtown economic development.  Yet, this indie has had a 10 year run of success since its founding and has even survived and flourished through the pandemic shut-down right up to the present day.  All the regular customers in Jacksonville could easily answer this question just as I can after one visit.  A knowledgeable, conversant, and welcoming owner with an equally friendly and knowledgeable bookseller. 

Jess G. is the store's 3rd owner and has been boosting its visibility and growth now for three years.  When you visit Our Town Books it feels like a Norman Rockwell painting.  A very comfy and cozy one-level, multiple room bookstore offering new and used books.  These books are shelved side by side on the shelves and you can identify the used ones by the gold dot on the spine.  There are a variety of interesting sidelines in the store but the most popular are the greeting cards, bookstore socks, journals, and puzzles.  The back room of the store is all children's and Jess said those books sell well for all ages.  Even though Jacksonville is a small town, the population includes many literary people.  The store gets customers from a couple of literary clubs, others from the communities of two local colleges, and all the other local regular customers.  Springfield, only a short distance away, doesn't have an indie like this and I would encourage anyone in that community to drive the short distance to his wonderful bookstore.

Most of all, I really enjoyed hearing from Jess one of the reasons they've survived the shut-down.  It's all because of something I learned long ago on this journey.  It's partly thanks to you, dear booksellers and owners, and your spirit of cooperative brotherhood and sisterhood with each other.  Your willingness to help and share your expertise with other indies and their owners, is the treasured characteristic of almost all that I've met.  Way to go, booksellers everywhere!  And for those in Jacksonville, continue your great support of this super bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  The Tie That Binds, Kent Haruf.  I highly recommend this author and have enjoyed every one of his books.  Like his others, this story takes place in the small fictional town of Holt, CO.  Hard work and rural living are a way of life for all who live here.  Two children live in the country and live a life of labor into adulthood.  The adult daughter ends up caring for their abusive and crippled father, holding them on the family property.  Story as told by their lifetime next door neighbor, Sanders Roscoe.  Outstanding.  Highly recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath. 

Beautiful storefront. 

A perfect outdoor setting during nice weather. 

Classic display window. 

View looking into the store from the front entrance.  You've just entered a Norman Rockwell picture. 

Looking immediately to the left you can find a few of the sidelines. 

The store carries those quirky bookstore socks not only for adults but for children. 

Dover Activity Books in the front of the store would make great stocking stuffers. 

If I were a regular, this would be my happy spot. 

Attractive table of new releases and sidelines front and center. 

Wrapped books without the title given.  Similar to blind date with a book promotions found in many bookstores.  I love this!

This display will attract the kids. 

Leather bound classics

Go to the right of the store and find this hallway.  Browse your way through here or think of it as an expressway to the children's room. 

Independent bookstores are always active in community causes.  Way to go, Our Town. 

Overview of the middle room. 

A few of the books of local interest and/or by local authors found in the middle room. 

Hey, I found another happy spot. 

Looking into the children's room, the 3rd room in the store. 

A great place in the children's room to share a seat with a little reader and discover a book. 

Ever since these books came out, I have been a fan.  Books for babies and toddlers that are indestructible and drool proof. 

Overview looking from the back toward the front entrance. 

With Jess on the left and Susan on the right, two of the fine people you'll meet at Our Town Books.  Thanks for a great visit. 

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