BY CARMEN SIERING
Doomsayers have been foretelling its downfall for decades, first from the big chains, then the Internet, now e-books. But for the past 50 years, The Book Corner, located at the intersection of North Walnut and East Kirkwood, has survived. “People are still coming in and they’re still buying books,” says owner Margaret Taylor.“There isn’t a day that goes by that someone doesn’t stop to thank me or tell me they bought their very first book here. We’re selling something people love. People cherish books.”
Taylor’s father, James Spannuth, established The Book Corner in 1964. He owned a bookstore in Nashville, Indiana, and another on East Kirkwood — The Book Nook — but was afraid he was going to lose the Bloomington lease. When it was renewed, Spannuth found himself the owner of three bookstores. Luckily, he and his wife, Barbara, had raised their six children in the family business, and they managed to run all three stores. The Book Nook in Bloomington closed in the 1970s, leaving The Book Corner as the family’s sole business here.
Now Taylor runs The Book Corner with the help of five employees. “My mother used to say that books are like shoes — you’ve got to have a good fit,” she says. “We know our customers and we know our books, so we can match them up.” They don’t rely on national fads when ordering or recommending books, she says, but keep abreast of what is happening locally. “We can tell you what’s selling, what’s doing well in this town, what our customers are reading.”
Taylor says she doesn’t see herself retiring anytime soon, though she knows that day is coming. “I am 69,” she says. “What’s funny is that for 20 years I was trying to get out of this business. Now I’m having so much fun I don’t want it to end.” Both of her parents worked well into their 80s, so she thinks there are a few more good years ahead. After that, she’s not sure what will happen to The Book Corner. “It’s a family business, after all, and there is no one in my family left who is interested,” she says. “At some point it will end. But maybe it could be sold to another family.”