BY PAMELA KEECH
Carey Spain is a gentle 61-year-old with a lifetime love of collecting books. He’s a Nashville, Indiana, hero, having purchased the town’s only independent bookstore just as it was about to close forever.
Last March, Spain and his wife, Cheryl Mills, were visiting Nashville. “We came here for the [National] Maple Syrup Festival and were walking around town and saw the for sale sign in the window. We just walked in and started negotiating,” says Spain. They opened Fallen Leaf Books in June 2015. “We’re very happy with it,” he says.
Spain is from the Southwest — born in New Mexico, worked in Texas and Oklahoma. He went to grad school at Drew University in New Jersey and got a master’s degree in theological studies. Fallen Leaf is his third bookstore. The first was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the 1970s, the second in Montclair, New Jersey. Two years ago his wife took a job in Indianapolis and they moved to Greenwood, Indiana.
“A bookstore is such a wonderful place because you don’t have to have one ideology,” he says. “You can have science fiction next to historical fiction, philosophy next to religion, different religions next to one another, and there’s no argument between them.”
“I started collecting books in high school,” Spain says. “I got a copy of a Doc Savage book and saw it had a number on the spine, 32 or something, and I got to realizing that there must be at least 31 more of them. It turned out there were 128. To this day I own all 128.”
Spain relishes rare books. The first thing you see when you walk into the store is a glass case filled with them. Just how rare? Spain says, “The 1637 Bible was purchased originally for a Bible museum, but it didn’t quite meet their qualifications, so I made them an offer and they sold it to me.”
His stock ranges from leather-bound volumes to antique children’s books to pulp magazines — the precursors of comic books. He also has a sizeable collection of early editions by Indiana authors such as Kin Hubbard and James Whitcomb Riley. The children’s section contains about half old and half new books. Selections for adults include about 80 percent used books and 20 percent new ones.
Find Fallen Leaf Books at 45 S. Jefferson St. in Nashville, online at fallenleafbookstore.com, or call 812-988-0202.