The enduring popularity of ink-on-paper books and a helpful staff are what Tami Frye, owner of The Book Rack, pointed to as key to the success of her business and its selection as top used bookstore in the Illinois Times 2022 Best of Springfield contest.
"My employees are the best employees who have ever been," said Frye, a Riverton resident who has owned the store at 2943 W. White Oaks Drive in Springfield the past six years. "They love reading, and they love other people."
Frye, 62, operated Let's Make Dinner next door to The Book Rack for 11 years and got to know the previous owner of the store, Harland DeGroot, from whom she purchased it. She closed Let's Make Dinner a little over a year ago.
The Book Rack has seen a steady growth in revenues over the past six years "and in the last couple months, even more so," Frye said.
There seemed to be pent-up demand when the business reopened after being closed several weeks for a major remodeling project in August, she said. The store also was reorganized to make room for the range of titles it offers at half off the original cover price.
The store has more than 50,000 used books in categories that include romance, suspense, Christian and nonfiction. The Book Rack will buy used books brought in by customers and pay them in credit toward purchases at the store. The store doesn't accept textbooks or extremely old books.
Even though people can buy used books on Amazon.com and other online sites, and despite the growth of e-books that readers enjoy on their Kindles and iPads, Frye said many readers still like a traditional book they can hold in their hands. They also seem to prefer the in-person buying experience, she said.
The Book Rack doesn't do much advertising, she said.
"I think more people are finding us," she said, "and it's almost all by word of mouth."