“On the floor, we probably have close to 100,000 titles,” John Lee, owner of Books Revisited, said, “with at least half of those being books we purchased from the community.”
“It’s always kind of fluctuating . . . there is some stuff that we don’t catalog and some stuff that transitions through, but I would say about a 100,000 titles in really such a wide variety of areas, everything from fiction to nonfiction, older collectible books, really the whole gambit.”
Books Revisited opened in 1991 and was originally located next to the Paramount Theatre, but it wasn’t until 1995 that John Lee purchased it.
“It was a very small store, kind of a tiny little book store back then. We just grew the business down there, and in 1998 we moved down to our present location,” Lee remarked, going on to emphasize “just for comparison, when the book store started we were about 1,200 square feet, now we are about 12,000 square feet.”
Lee continued to grow the business, opening a second store located in the Crossroads mall in 2005.
It may come as a surprise that Lee didn’t major in English or business: he graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science from SCSU in 1995.
“I was in between grad school and I was really just looking for a break. My plan was to run this store for a year until my dad [who was retiring in a year] could transition in and I could go on to grad school,” Lee said.
Now, more than 15 years later, Lee jokingly said, “I just haven’t looked back.”
With close to 20,000 books in their second location in the Crossroads Mall, Books Revisited has a huge selection to from which to choose.
“What makes each store unique is that we buy books at both locations from customers, so one day we might buy a bunch of books out at the mall that we don’t have downtown, and vice versa,” Lee said. “We do shuttle books back and forth, trying to pretend like we know what will sell better at each location.”
The main difference between the two stores is the customers that each one draws in, Lee explains.
The Crossroads Mall store tends to be more impulse buyers, where the price-point is much more important. Customers usually just stroll in, not knowing what they need until they see it.
Downtown, however, is more of a destination store where customers go there knowing exactly what they are looking for.
Books Revisited does offer special orders. They have ties with numerous publishers, four textbook companies, and other used book stores.
“Because we are an independent store,” Lee elaborated, “I like to think that we try harder. If a customer needs something, we will go out of our way to find something for them. If you go to a Barnes & Noble or a chain store, certainly they are helpful too, but a lot of times they are restricted to their system and just can’t get it.”
The Internet has brought huge changes for Books Revisited.
“Over the last five years, we’ve been finding things that we were never able to find before,” said Lee.
Books Revisited does have almost all of their inventory available online for purchase through their website, as well as many partner sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
“We’ll get students who I am sure are from St. Cloud State and they will order a book off of Amazon and we end up shipping it to Stewart Hall,” said Lee chuckling, “it happens all the time.”
Lee is excited for the future of the store, contemplating many advances they may make to their stores. They want to tap into the student market more by offering more textbooks, possibly extend their hours to be open later into the evening, and are even thinking about adding coffee to the shop to enhance the environment.
Lee wants Books Revisited to be “not only a place where people can come and shop, but also a place where people can come and relax for a while, get lost, read a book and stretch their minds.”
For more information about Books Revisited as well as the opportunity to browse their online collection, please visit www.booksrevisited.com.