Editor’s Note: This is the first of two stories on 50 years of The Learned Owl, featuring interviews with current and past owners of the shop.
HUDSON — Curling up with a good book on a warm summer afternoon or cold winter evening can make any season special.
And for 50 years, the quaint and popular Learned Owl independent book shop has provided the stories that have transported readers to fantastic lands and historic times.
The Learned Owl will celebrate its golden anniversary from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 23 with an open house/anniversary party. The public is welcome to share their memories of the Learned Owl over the years by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing in a memory book at the front counter of the store at 204 N. Main St.
In addition to food and music, the Learned Owl will have special sales, raffles and giveaways, as well as a special T-shirt for sale Sept. 23.
The book shop began its lineage in 1968 when Hudson residents Jean Isabel and her husband, Bob, founded the shop with another partner.
Today’s owner Kate Schlademan bought the Learned Owl in 2013 from Liz Murphy, who bought the book shop in 1983.
"I've always loved books and wanted to buy a book store," Schlademan said. "It would be the thing I love most and, hopefully, do the best."
Schlademan's advice to others looking to follow in her footsteps is to "know what you're getting into. You're not going to be able to read all the time."
The most important role of the book shop has been community interaction and support, and Schlademan has created partnerships with the schools with book fairs and preparing students with back-to-school displays in the store.
"I can bring a wide-range of books to the fairs," Schlademan said. "The teachers gave me a wish list, and I get those or something similar."
Books for all ages and interest pack 2,300 square feet of the 2,500 square foot building. Approximately 21,000 books are available and Schlademann has ordered 10,000 new titles to arrive by the end of the year.
"I choose every book, but I get recommendations from the staff," she said. "You need to know your community and what will sell."
The top floor features nonfiction books with a seasonal room which currently contains back-to-school, gardening and Halloween books and decorations.
The main floor has fiction and local interest in the front and nonfiction, history, biography, science and cooking in the rear. The children's books/stationery and gifts are in the adjoining room. In the lower level are fantasy, science fiction, mysteries and graphic novels.
Three book clubs operate out of the store and the shop assists other book clubs in the community by recommending books to read. They also work with the Hudson Library and Historical Society when archivist Gwen Mayer brings popular authors to the library.
"We handle the selling of the books," Schlademan said.
Presidents are popular titles and include "The President is Missing" by Bill Clinton and James Patterson; anything on President Donald Trump; and "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by Doris Kearns Goodwin, she said.
The popularity of a book is often because of the momentum of people talking about the book, book reviews and staff recommendations, she said.
And printed books have been gaining popularity in recent years after readers tried digital books, she said.
"Now that it [digital] has been out there for awhile, it's not new and you go back to the thing you always loved," Schlademan said.
The Learned Owl is a well-known name in the book industry," Schlademan said. "Liz [Murphy] spread the name."
Murphy will offer her thoughts on 50 years of the Learned Owl in an upcoming issue.
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or email@example.com