Lemuria Books - Business Matters - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Lemuria Books - Business Matters

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

For nearly four decades local book lovers have had a place to go where the people selling them books love them just as much as they do. That is exactly the way Lemuria Books owner and founder John Evans imagined it when he opened his bookstore in a converted apartment in 1976.

37 years and three locations later, Lemuria sets prominently in the highly visible Banner Hall building which also houses the likes of Broad St. Bakery. And, with all the changes he has had to make over the years and Evans doesn't need a John Grisham thriller to get him on the edge of his seat.

"Barnes & Noble came in I got hammered, been hammered when Borders came in, hammered when Books-a-Million came in," Evans said, referring to the competition from big chain bookstores.

Evans has seen it all though, and not only has Lemuria survived it has thrived.  Before the big chains, Lemuria weathered what he called the "malling of Jackson".  Prominent book retailers at Northpark Mall came-and-went and Lemuria lived to tell about it.

Now, Evans' resilient, independent bookstore is getting a challenge from online retailers, such as Amazon, and from e-books. However, Evans sees every challenge as an opportunity.

"This is a real opportunity to define ourselves as to really who we are and re-state that," Evans said.

Who they are, according to Evans is simple. They sell books. A point emphasized throughout Lemuria with signage that reads, "Read Real Books". A matter-of-fact affront to the evolution of literature through e-readers.

"Reading the physical book is a physical, pleasurable experience that affects your inner-self, your consciousness," Evans said.

Complementing the hard copies are the 17 people who do what they love, which is read, for a living as employees at Lemuria.

"I love to talk books with anybody, whether they're in the store or if they're out in Jackson," Maggie Stevenson said, who has worked at Lemuria for 13 years.

An employee who's been there for 24 years, Pat Hall, said it is about building relationships with customers through a mutual love for books.

"The sheer spirit of enjoying a book will generally sell it, because we love to read it," Hall said.

Evans said that is what sets his brick-and-mortar business apart, because they offer more than just an online rating system.

A good bookstore with good books, if it doesn't have good customer service and have good booksellers then it's not alive," Evans said.

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