Every day after school a certain seventh-turning-eighth-grader would hop on a bus from Norwood to Fountain Square and walk his way to the Ohio Book Store, what is now the oldest book store in the city. He would sweep floors and deliver books six days a week.
Now, 54 years later, Jim Fallon still calls the Ohio Book Store his workplace. He went from sweeping floors to owning the whole shop.
Fallon’s love for books also held steadfast over the years. But he loves different books for different reasons. "Sometimes it’s just the illustrator, sometimes it’s the paper it’s written on or printed on, sometimes it’s the author, and sometimes it’s the subject," he says. Some of Fallon’s personal favorite subjects include the history of Cincinnati, the Northwest Territory and World War II.
One major change over the years, though, came with the Internet. "A lot of days we come in, and the very first thing we do is open up the computer, and we sell a lot of books on the computer to three different sellers, or three different pages: Amazon, ABE [Advanced Book Exchange] and Alibis," Fallon says.
While the world wide access to books made available through the Internet allows the Ohio Book Store to sell around the globe, this same access has lowered the cost of books across the board. This has caused other Downtown book stores to close up shop throughout the years, so where there were once five or six competing book stores, the Ohio Book Store is the only one left standing, Fallon says.
Despite the lowered book costs, though, some treasures still sell for thousands of dollars. It is a truly rare gem that gets that type of price tag, but that cost stems from a pure love of books. "I never try to sell expensive books to my customers as an investment," Fallon says. "Buy it because you love that book or you love the author or you love how it’s bound."
That same love of books has brought in long-term customers. One particular customer came all the way to Cincinnati from Japan for a motorcycle convention, stopped by the Ohio Book Store and has been a customer for the last 20 years.
The Ohio Book Store also works to preserve those loves, as the basement features a book-binding shop. Fallon’s sons run the shop. "We do work for design firms all over the country, special projects, but most of the stuff we do is for individuals," Fallon says. "They have either a book that they had as a child that’s falling apart and they want to put it back the way it looked when it was new or they have a book they just recently purchased that the binding has come apart of the hinges are falling apart and they want it repaired to somewhat original condition."
For more information about the Ohio Book Store, check out OhioBookStore.net, but for the real experience, head down to 726 Main Street Downtown.
Photo courtesy of the Ohio Book Store