Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2019 Issue

“A Bigger Job Than We Realized:” Revisiting the Published Page in Cleburne, Texas

The Published Page.

In 2017, when last we wrote about The Published Page Bookshop, owners Jim Hart, and his wife Connye had just purchased a large antique building in Cleburne, Texas on the outskirts of Ft. Worth. After many years of selling books online they were determined to make a go of it as a traditional bricks and mortar bookstore.

 

At age 74 the Harts weren’t exactly youngsters, nor were they beginners as booksellers. They began online in 1997; then moved into an antique mall, next to a regional shopping center in Arlington,Texas. In 2005, when that wasn’t viable anymore, they dropped the store and sold exclusively on the internet for the next 12 years. The last five years they had a 3,000 sq. ft. warehouse. “When the lease was up in 2017, the landlord wanted a lot more money, so we thought it over and it was buy a building or forget it.”


So they took a big gamble and acquired Cleburne’s second oldest commercial space in a two story building with a total of 10,000 sq. ft. of interior space (5,000 on each floor) and features like 15 foot ceilings and art deco fixtures. While taking a brand new mortgage in your 70s is not for the faint of heart, they had high hopes that their bookstore would prosper and help to revitalize the town square of an aging small Texas town.

 

“Our family and friends helped with the move,” said Jim, “we had 30 to 40 people helping with taking stock out of storage, and starting to renovate, getting the shelves up….. It turned out to be a big job….It took four months to get to the point where city would let us open it.”

 

But the couple was filled with optimism: “I made a decision to take everything off line until we got oriented, that meant four months without income, and lots of repairs - some of them were hidden or unexpected. We finally got open Nov. 20, 2017, but we still didn’t have most books on the shelves.”

 

He thanked Jim Arner (a Wyoming retired bookseller) who came to Texas to help them take things out of boxes, catalog, and assist with the many other tasks necessary to get the ball rolling. They went from 2,000 books to 23,000 on shelves by the beginning of April 2018. Since then,” he said, “it’s just about double, we’re up to about 40,000 books.”

 

“That four months with no income was hard,” he recalled, “but even when online business gradually ramped up, it took a long time to recover. In the meantime, Amazon became even even more dominant.” Though the Harts have books listed on Amazon, Alibris, Abe, Biblio, Chrisland and their own site, their internet grosses still were thin.

 

“I don’t like dealing with Amazon,” Jim said, echoing the sentiments of so many in the trade, “I like the B&M alternative; as things go forward I’d like 90% (of our business to be) walk in or people who contact me directly”.

 

As for their new role as an economic engine for Cleburne (population 30,000) it’s been an eye-opener.

 

“The old town square was almost abandoned. There were lots of empty buildings, a little shoe repair place, one store, Brides and Beyond, and no foot traffic. But,” he noted, the presence of the bookstore helped and “over the last six month things are opening up. There’s a coffee shop completely renovating, a couple of nice restaurants, boutiques, it’s really starting to turn. It’s not there yet, but it’s happening. All four streets around our courthouse are major highways, foot traffic is building. The town tells us they love us.”

 

So far The Published Page has initiated an ongoing writers group, “I’d say we’ve got about forty people, extremely creative, one of the most successful things we’ve started. There’s one book club that meets regularly. We’ve had 15 or 20 author signings - all fun, but not all well attended. For one event the weatherman predicted hail, but the show went on anyway. It turned out well, we sold some books and they even asked to do it again.”



On the positive side “Sales go up every month, and that’s with only 3,500 sq. ft. occupied by the bookstore; there’s still plenty of room for expansion. The upstairs will be a treasure, but it will take a massive amount of work to get it going.” He envisions an office complex with lots of antique touches.

 

“Along the way we’ve made hundreds of new friends. We are 30 miles South of Fort Worth and 50 miles Southwest of Dallas. Lots of people make special trips to come see us. Fifty to seventy-five percent of our customers are driving from out of area to come here. Our customers say, ‘I didn’t know a store like that still existed.’”

 

“But as much fun as we’ve had it’s a bigger job than we realized. We just don’t have as deep pockets as we had planned.” The store has run into financial difficulties and fallen behind on mortgage and property tax. “We set up a $10K Go Fund Me Account about a month ago,” he said. “It quickly generated about $2,500 and stopped. We’re right at the place that we need to do something to catch up, and get restarted.”

 

For those who would like to see this ambitious venture climb out of the hole the link to the Go Fund Me Campaign is:

www.gofundme.com/ThePublishedPage/donate

 

They also accept donation via Paypal at

jimhart@publishedpage.com

 

As an incentive the shop is offering gift certificates that equal or exceed whatever amount is donated. “Give $50 get $65 in trade. I’m a total optimist to make this work out. Our income is going up as we’re paying our debts down.”

 

“We are never going to be the largest store in Texas but our goal is to have something unique. We should (eventually) have 70,000 to 80,000 books on shelves. Our stock is mostly out of print and used, you’ll find authors you don’t often see, local and regional history, really concentrated on Texas authors.”

 

He also hints he’s got a stash of petroleum geology books still in storage and he “probably should have gotten that out earlier. I’ve got people who are champing at the bit to go through them.”

 

According to Hart the largest group of customers “are over 60, but we get Millenials and young Gen Xers age 25-40 who like books, and want books for their kids, including old books. What’s really surprising is how many young people are planning to open stores. I’m hopeful it’s a trend.”

 

“Running a bookstore is not a way to get rich, but it is an enjoyable way to spend life. When we had an online business, none of our kids were very excited. Once we bought the building they became much more involved.”

 

As for the future: “I think Cleburne is just on edge of expansion. The new highway has cut down the drive time (from the metro areas). I expect population to double and triple in the next few years. When our bookstore is finished, I expect to see a big increase in value, substantially on the plus side. I wouldn’t mind being wealthy.”

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • Jeschke Jadi
    Auction 151
    Saturday, April 27, 2024
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 546. Christoph Jacob Trew. Plantae selectae, 1750-1773.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 70. Thomas Murner. Die Narren beschwerung. 1558.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 621. Michael Bernhard Valentini. Museum Museorum, 1714.
    Jeschke Jadi
    Auction 151
    Saturday, April 27, 2024
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 545. Sander Reichenbachia. Orchids illustrated and described, 1888-1894.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 1018. Marinetti, Boccioni, Pratella Futurism - Comprehensive collection of 35 Futurist manifestos, some of them exceptionally rare. 1909-1933.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 634. August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof. 3 Original Drawings, around 1740.
    Jeschke Jadi
    Auction 151
    Saturday, April 27, 2024
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 671. Jacob / Picasso. Chronique des Temps, 1956.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 1260. Mary Webb. Sarn. 1948. Lucie Weill Art Deco Binding.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 508. Felix Bonfils. 108 large-format photographs of Syria and Palestine.
    Jeschke Jadi
    Auction 151
    Saturday, April 27, 2024
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 967. Dante Aligheri and Salvador Dali. Divina Commedia, 1963.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 1316. Tolouse-Lautrec. Dessinateur. Duhayon binding, 1948.
    Jeschke Jádi, Apr. 27: Lot 1303. Regards sur Paris. Braque, Picasso, Masson, 1962.
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Rare Book & Collectors Sale
    24th April 2024
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: McCarthy (Cormac). Cities of the Plain, N.Y., 1998, First Edn., signed on hf. title; together with Uncorrected Proof and Uncorrected Advance Reading Copies, both signed by the Author. €800 to €1,000.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Stanihurst (Richard). De Rebus in Hibernia Gestis, Libri Quattuor, sm. 4to Antwerp (Christi. Plantium) 1584. First Edn. €525 to €750.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Fleischer (Nat.) Jack Dempsey The Idol of Fistiana, An Intimate Narrative, N.Y., 1929, First Edn. Signed on f.e.p. by Rocky Marciano. €400 to €600.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Rare Book & Collectors Sale
    24th April 2024
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Smith - Classical Atlas, Lond., 1820. Bound with, Smiths New General Atlas .. Principal Empires, Kingdoms, & States throughout the World, Lond. 1822. €350 to €500.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Rare Auction Catalogues – 1856: Bindon Blood, of Ennis, Co. Clare: Sotheby & Wilkinson. €320 to €450.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: [Mavor (Wm.)] A General Collection of Voyages and Travels from the Discovery of America to the Commencement of the Nineteenth Century, 28 vols. (complete) Lond., 1810. €300 to €400.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Rare Book & Collectors Sale
    24th April 2024
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Mc Carthy (Cormac). Outer Dark, N.Y. (Random House)1968, Signed by Mc Carthy. €250 to €300.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Three signed works by Ted Huges - Wodwo, 1967; Crow from the Life and Songs of the Crow, 1970; and Tales from Ovid, 1997. €200 to €300.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: The Garden. An Illustrated Weekly Journal of Horticulture in all its Branches, 7 vols. lg. 4to Lond. 1877-1880. With 127 colored plates. €200 to €300.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Rare Book & Collectors Sale
    24th April 2024
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: Procter (Richard A.) Saturn and its System: Containing Discussions of The Motion (Real and Apparent)…, Lond. 1865. First Edn. €160 to €220.
    Fonsie Mealy, Apr. 24: [Ashe] St. George, Lord Bishop of Clogher, A Sermon Preached to the Protestants of Ireland, now in London,... Oct. 23, 1712, London 1712. Second Edn. €130 to €180.
  • Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [RUTH, George Herman “Babe” (1895-1948)]. Signed photograph. Circa 1930s. 191 x 248 mm. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HARRISON, Benjamin. Document signed (“Benj Harrison”) as governor of Virginia, certifying the service of Daniel Cumbo, a Black Revolutionary soldier. $6,000 to $9,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: ONE OF THE FIRST PRINTED ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: FIRST PRINTING OF LINCOLN’S IMMORTAL GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. $4,000 to $6,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: HIGHLY IMPORTANT MORMON ARCHIVE. ALLEY, George. Archive of 23 Autograph Letters Signed by Mormon Convert George Alley to His Brother Joseph Alley. $10,000 to $20,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [AVIATION]. [ARMSTRONG, Neil A.] Aviation Hall of Fame Gold Medal MS64 NGC, Awarded to Neil Armstrong in 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: NEWLY DISCOVERED FIRST PRINTING OF "WITH MALICE TOWARDS NONE... " FROM THE ONLY NEWSPAPER ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL PROCESSION. $4,000 to $8,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: THE MOST IMPORTANT GEORGE WASHINGTON DOCUMENT IN PRIVATE HANDS; GEORGE WASHINGTON’S COMMISSION AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, 1775, ONE OF ONLY TWO ORIGINALS. $150,000 to $250,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: A VERY RARE ACCOUNT OF BLACKBEARD’S DEATH AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PIRATE ITEMS EXTANT. $3,000 to $5,000.
    Potter & Potter Auctions
    How History Unfolds on Paper:
    Choice Selections from the Eric C. Caren Collection
    Part IX
    Starting 10AM CST
    April 18, 2024
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: EDISON, Thomas. Patent for Edison’s Improvements on the Electric-Light, No. 219,628. [Washington, D.C.: U.S. Patent Office], 16 September 1879. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: [VIETNAM WAR]. The original pen used by Secretary of State William P. Rogers to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreement, Paris, 27 January 1973. $10,000 to $15,000.
    Potter & Potter, Apr. 18: SONS OF LIBERTY FOUNDER COLONEL BARRÉ ANNOTATED TITLE-PAGE, “WHICH OUGHT TO ROUSE UP BRITISH ATTENTION”. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions