JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Many of us like the look and feel of a book. It's something an e-book on a Ipad just can't give you.
Ron Chamblin knows that feeling. Almost four decades ago he started his local business with 11 boxes of smoke damaged books and turned it into a Landmark Legend. It's now one of the biggest used bookstores in America.
"Yeah, all the books, yeah they're all mine," says Ron Chamblin while walking down one of the many aisles of books in his vast collection for sale. "I don't know. I probably have a million and a half, two million books." Chamblin Bookmine has been in business for 37 years. His first store was on Hershel Street. He moved into his current store off Roosevelt Boulevard in 1991. Here, you'll find rows and rows and rows of books in a 23-thousand square foot building.
"We also built all these shelves," said Chamblin. There's nothing fancy about the business. "The carpet was probably put in in 19-83." But if you're looking for a book, they probably have it. "Once customers get in here they're kinda overwhelmed."
The labyrinth of tomes envelopes customers. Directions are peppered throughout the store so readers won't get lost. Some customers have been buying books here since they were kids. "There's nothing you can find here. If it's printed. It's here," said Adam Phillips who has been coming here since he was 8 years old.
Many customers also trade in their books, get store credit and then they purchase new reads. "It's one of the best places to go in Jacksonville," said one couple who comes in every week.
Chamblin sells mostly used books but new ones too and also has a small collection of rare books. He has a dedicated staff of helpers but admits his work is never done.
"I've had three weeks off in 37-years," said Chamblin.
He also lived in the bookstore for 9 years in the 90's. Chamblin said, "You saved money and always had something to read."
A few years ago Ron also opened another successful bookstore downtown. Two daughters and a son-in -law work for him but admits he still has a lot more training to do before he can retire and read more books. "I'm 71, so I'm probably going to retire in 10 or 15 years."
First Coast News