Thursday, June 30, 2022

Ohio Book Store - Cincinnati, OH

Ohio Book Store, Cincinnati, OH

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I'm not sure what's more impressive here, the incredible bookstore or the family that works here.  To be more specific, its probably owner Mr. Jim Fallon who began working here on weekends when he was in 8th grade, back in 1957 (Or maybe the most impressive thing here is the day they had a horse in the store?  But I digress.)  Yes, you read that right.  This iconic indie opened in 1940 so for 80+ years it has only had two owners and two locations.  The day of my visit was spent in the delightful company of Mr. Fallon, his wife TJ, and son Mike.  Another son Jim also works at the store.  Additionally, you'll be surrounded by 300,000+ used books on multiple floors, a book lover's dream.  This is a successful, award-winning store.  Yet, after all these years I feel it is deserving of even more national recognition.

I've visited a handful of bookstores that deserve the adjective, overwhelming.  That was exactly how I felt after entering this modest storefront.  Floor to ceiling books with rolling ladders to browse the high shelves.  I thought the organization here was excellent throughout the store.  You'll also find decades of collections from National Geographic, Life Magazine, and Sporting News to name just a few.  Vintage and collectible books are plentiful and many of these can also be found through their online sales, something  that goes very well.  You don't realize the amount of weight that this many books puts on the shelves and floors.  No worries here since this 100+ year old building was built with reinforced concrete.  It was even recognized as an official bomb shelter during the Cold War.

Another huge part of the business is the book binding shop in the basement.  Mike and brother Jim have steady orders (they're actually 12 weeks behind) from all over the country.  I saw some samples of their work and it is outstanding.  Old family Bibles are often brought here and I would encourage you to seek them out if you have a treasured book that needs rebinding.  I watched Mike do some work in his shop and I've seen the results.  He and his brother are true talented craftsmen.

The best thing I heard here today was the state of the business.  Mr. Fallon stated that over the last 5 years he's seen a shift in the customer base to a younger crowd of kids up through young adults.  And overall, business has been going very well.  An encouraging note for all bookstores.

If you're a book lover and enjoy bookstores, this is a must visit.  What I've shared with you in this brief blurb is the tip of the iceberg of the fun you'll have when you visit Ohio Book Store and the terrific people who work here.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Maybe I'll Pitch Forever, Leroy (Satchel) Paige, as told to David Lipman.  Autobiography of one of baseball's most colorful characters and one of the earliest players to break the color line in major league baseball.  Talks about his childhood in Mississippi, growing up poor, and going to reform school where he discovered his talent for baseball.  This book is also an interesting history about the Negro Leagues and the many barnstorming all-star teams that played and toured during the off season.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Published in 1993.  Recommended. 

CURRENTLY READING:  The House In The Cerulean Sea, T. J. Klune. 

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Not purchased, but gifted: two personalized leather bookmarks.  Thanks Mike. 


A grand old building very befitting this legendary bookstore.

I am no expert on bookbinding but after seeing the shop and their operation, I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of their professional service.  I thought it was very impressive. 


View looking into the store from the front entrance.  Notice how high those bookshelves go. 


With four floors of books, might be a good idea to grab one of these.  Just inside the front door. 


The store has a wealth of material about local history and stories. 


For you youngsters, this is a telephone that the store still uses from the 1940s.  It's the ancestor of the cell phone in your pocket.  You can't text on this and you can't scroll, tap, or swipe.  BUT, the people who answer it can talk to you about books. 


Photographic evidence that Cortez the horse was allowed into the store. 


This is just a fraction of the vintage and collectible editions available. 


A closer look at a section of the floor to ceiling books on the main floor.  Thank goodness for the ladder. 


Just a sampling of the cookbooks offered. 


Begin your history browsing here. 


Lots of comics offered in the back on the main floor. 


Back of the main floor and underneath the balcony. 


Send Tom Swift fans to this store. 


Overview of the main floor looking toward the front entrance from the balcony. 


Looking at the balcony level. 


On the balcony level you'll find more Cincinnati and Ohio history. 


Looking into the 2nd floor.  If the lights are off when you enter, they are automated and come on as you move into the room. 


One of the long book aisles on the 2nd floor. 


View looking into the 3rd floor. 


If you know anyone who is a collector of National Geographics, send them here. 


Looking into the basement level.  This level is half books and half book-binding shop. 


Sports Illustrated collectors should proceed to these files in the basement. 

Outer office of the book-binding shop. 


Overview of the book-binding shop.  The work they do here is outstanding and I found it fascinating.   


Another overview of the shop. 


This is a finished product of their book-binding work, an antique German Bible.  This picture doesn't do their work justice. 


Mike organized the typeface to imprint on the bookmark. 


This is liquefied metal used in the process, extremely hot.  It made me nervous but here they work with it everyday. 


Preparing to imprint the bookmarks. 


The type letters will be pressed onto the gold that makes the lettering. 


The finished product from the book-binding shop. 

From L-R next to me:  Jim, TJ, and Mike, the fine people you'll meet at Ohio Book Store.  Thanks for a great visit. 

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