EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) – In this age of big box book stores and electronic readers, one independent book seller is finding a place in the community.
“I have a firm belief that parents and grandparents are not going to pull children into their laps and read to them from a screen,” says LuAnn Locke, owner of Afterwords Books in Edwardsville, Illinois.
Kids play with classic toys in a cozy bay at Afterwards. Locke’s study and love of children’s literature is represented in the new and used books, educational toys and kids’ gifts items that adorn nearly every inch of the century-old house that is not only her shop but her home. This single mom and her three kids even share the kitchen with the cookbooks she has for sale.
“My youngest is four,” says Locke, laughing. “He sometimes has a hard time understanding why mommy can’t play all the time and she’s got to help customers.”
She points out that letting people into their lives is the only way to survive.
“We, like many other small businesses, understand that we have to become a thread in the community,” Locke says.
Afterwords does that with story times and book clubs for all ages.
And Locke does embrace some technology—you can connect with Afterwords on Facebook and buy books online.
She intended to be a children’s librarian, getting a degree in English from Southern Illinois University -Edwardsville. She was working part-time at Afterwords when the owner announced plans to sell.
“I didn’t want the bookstore to close,” Locke says. “And [the owner] said ‘If you don’t buy it, we’re just going to close it’. There were no independent bookstores here and I just didn’t want to see that happen.”
Many people thought Locke would rejoice when Borders books decided to shutter its Edwardsville location, “when in fact we were devastated. I love bookstores. I hated to see that happen.”
A year ago, Locke moved Afterwords from downtown Edwardsville to this more accessible spot on Buchanan in the middle of a revitalized business corridor. She freely admits she’ll never get rich, but believes she’ll be enriched as she shares her passion for the printed word, especially sharing it with her youngest patrons.
“Children love that tactile experience of turning the pages and looking at the illustrations, and you cannot duplicate that electronically,” she says.
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