A ‘Novel’ Experience

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The aroma of ageing paper mixed with steaming coffee and wooden shelves surround each patron entering A Novel Bookstore in Yelm.

Owned and operated by Bob and Janis Maddox, the collection of books for sale numbers in the thousands, ranging from drug store romance novels, great literary classics to nonfiction and the largest collection of metaphysics in the South Sound.

“The feel of a book is really different,” Bob Maddox said. “When you’re looking for a book online it isn’t the same as holding it in your hand. … It is not about selling a book, it is about providing an experience.”

While browsing the stacks a book may pop up the customer wasn’t looking for but decides to buy and it becomes their favorite, he said. It opens up more possibilities.

Aside from used books, Maddox sells some new books, DVDs, CDs and audiobooks.

As an avid reader of science fiction, Maddox said he knows the importance of finding the whole series. So he finds the individual books that come in and puts them together as a set to save fellow science fiction readers the struggle of finding the complete set.

In the era of Amazon orders, Maddox has been able to stay afloat by selling books online through Amazon.

“Any small bookstore has to sell online to survive,” he said.

Having operated the store for 10 years, Maddox has gotten to know a number of people. The one who sticks out in his mind the most is his friend David.

David would come in regularly to trade and sell books. He would talk to Maddox about books and the store. David brought in numerous coffee table art books that got Maddox’s art inventory started. He also brought in a box of golf pencils from Office Depot while he was cleaning out his house. Maddox uses them to write the prices on the inside cover of paperbacks.

David passed away last year.

“It’s like every time I use one of these pencils I think of my friend David and his love of books,” Maddox said.

To Maddox, it is not just a store or business; it is a service to the community. The books displayed in front of the store are top sellers but are a little dinged up or hardcovers so they are priced lower, Maddox said. This gives more people the opportunity to have books in their home.

It is a way to give people access to books and the imagination and knowledge that the written word contains.

“I want to help people find the books they want to read,” he said. “Having a bookstore in your town is a minimum. The world is a better place when people read.”

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