It may not surprise you that I like to read.
In fact, I have more desire to read than I have time to read. My reading list is long, and ever growing.
I am fortunate to have a wonderful group of friends and colleagues who routinely recommend books to me. I actually feel guilty for the slow speed with which I’m able to consume all of the recommendations. (Maybe I’ll make a New Year’s resolution?)
One of the manifestations of my love of reading is having a few favorite used bookstores in the area. Sure, I go to Barnes & Noble on occasion. I also like and support area libraries… they all have unique characteristics and access to valuable info. But there’s nothing like a used bookstore.
What separates a used bookstore from the rest (besides that amazing “old book” smell) is the love, knowledge, and passion of the people that work at these stores. These folks share a natural curiosity and a pursuit of knowledge and information that is contagious to any visitor.
Most importantly, if you ask a question they actually know the answer. Or how to get it. I can think of a bunch of instances where I have researched something online or asked a clerk at a big box bookstore a question that could not be answered.
Conversely, when you ask about a book at a used bookstore, the worker has often actually read it, or has at least heard of it! If the information requested isn’t top of mind it is pursued with a deft commitment that conveys more than just a desire to deliver great service… it’s fueled by an essential curiosity that, when channeled, creates exceptional customer service that cannot be easily copied by the competition.
Whenever you walk into a used bookstore you are greeted with a kind hello and a desire to help, too.
Why is that so rare?
What a refreshing difference passion and expertise makes in business. Examine your staff and your business. Who amongst you is the most passionate? Are you rewarding them for how much they care? Are you helping others see them as the example of what “good” looks like?
It’s a worthy goal for any business to pursue serving its customers the same way a used bookstore does. Used bookstores are more than just good examples of customer service, too So increasingly rare are these gems (the people and the bookstores) that shopping in a used bookstore is almost like supporting a cause or charity. They are valuable institutions that keep learning alive and create a commons of shared learning and experience that is worthy of preservation.
I have worn a path from Kent to Wooster, finding great stops for used bookstores along the way. Consider making the journey for yourself.
I particularly enjoy a place in Medina called The Bookshelf. I love all used bookstores, but this one has a special place in my heart because it is more than a great store with cool finds and a sharp volunteer staff. This store is borne out of Project: LEARN (Let Every Adult Read Now) – a non-profit dedicated to providing tutoring to adults in reading, math, and English as a second language. It also supports its cause by selling gently used books.
Thanks for reading this column in a newspaper, too.
Newspapers and used bookstores share something in common – besides customers. Both institutions are predisposed to quality information. In this era of questionably sourced information, please consider passing along the gift of quality material this holiday season with a newspaper subscription for a friend or a gift certificate to one of these great stores.
Some favorite area used book stores
• Barberton, Snowball’s Bookshop – 564 W. Tuscarawas Ave. Barberton, OH 44203, 330.745.9292-Coffee and art gallery next door!

• Kent, Last Exit Books – 124 East Main St. Kent, OH 44240, 330.677.4499-Coffee and some art right inside!
• Medina, The Bookshelf – 5 W. Liberty St. Medina, OH 44256, 330.723.1314-Great cause!
• Wooster, Books In Stock – 140 E Liberty St., Wooster, OH 44691, 330.262.2665-Coffee shop just around the corner!
Happy shopping!
Josh Gordon is an award-winning marketing communications professional and President of Full Spectrum Marketing, a full-service advertising agency with digital roots based in Kent, Ohio and Wooster, Ohio. You can reach Josh at jgordon@fullspectrummarketing.com.