Closing store giving away 30,000 books

Image 1 of 2

The book is closing on a store in Sarasota, and they're not taking their books with them.

Jan's Paperbacks, or "There's Something About A Book," has 30,000 of them, and when owners Patrick and Leigh Spencer decided to close the store to spend the family, they had to figure out: "What do you do with 30,000 books?"

When they heard another store only got $500 for 70,000 books, the answer was easy: They would give them away for free.

"To let people that love books, have them," explained Patrick Spencer.

From politics and religion, to mystery, romance, and even the Florida Building Code Manual 2007 Edition, over half of their inventory was gone after they announced they were glad to give them away.

They politely put a donation box by the front.

"It made something that was hard very, very easy," said Patrick Spencer.

Even though they couldn't find a buyer for their store, book sales nationwide are growing by a half-percent year over year, according to the Association of American Publishers.

The challenge is that online sales account for 37 percent, compared to 26 percent for in person.

Yet paperbacks are up seven percent, while sales of e-books are down 16.

"I have a Kindle on my phone, I have a Kindle on my iPad," said reader Christina Burnison. "But there is something holding a book in your hand and turning the pages."

In a moment that may represent failure to some, you can also say the story of Jan's Paperbacks, in its last days after 25 years, proves that the desire to escape into a book is stronger than the paper they're printed on.
"They are so intimate," said Patrick Spencer. "They come from the mind, they are in your mind. They are in your hand. There is just something about a book."

They will be open Thursday and you will again be allowed to take whatever you want.

Children's books will be the only thing rationed at between five and 10 per customer.

The store's address:
3251 17th Street, Unit 90
Sarasota, FL 34235