This is not a “final” statement about our shop, but rather a report on where we are as of today, February 19, 2019, where we’ve been, and where we are planning to go. It’s also an invitation for you to join us on the journey. The narrative is a little long, and there are a couple of videos below that give a shorter visual presentation of the story. Scroll down and click on them if you prefer.
I am Jim Hart. My wife Connye and I are the owners of The Published Page Bookshop. I have been a book lover and collector all of my life. Connye is also an avid reader. After experimenting with online book sales in the mid 1990s, I was offered an opportunity to purchase the entire stock of Land Run Books in Stillwater, Oklahoma. I was a consulting systems analyst and application developer, and had been considering (or so I thought) a less stressful occupation.
After a visit to Stillwater Connye and I agreed to the purchase. We suddenly had a book inventory of more than 15,000 titles. Several 350 mile truck loads later we were in the book business full scale in Arlington, Texas. For years I was the bookseller, gradually phasing out of my software business, and working and studying hard to expand my knowledge of the rapidly changing business. I was an early member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA), serving as its President in 2000 to 2001. Later I joined the Texas Booksellers Association. Currently I am a member of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Independent Booksellers Association (MPIBA).
Our shop moved several times over the years, from a home based business into a large antique mall, from there into a large regional mall in the DFW mid-cities region, and, when the mall began to deteriorate, into a warehouse facility, then into a much larger warehouse. Over these years, tens of thousands of additional books were added. We purchased the stock of several other shops. We acquired two large university library collections. Thousands of books were purchased from estate sales, and thousands more from customers and book scouts. Gradually the inventory grew to more than a quarter million titles.
When the warehouse lease expired in 2017, Connye and I were ready to make another move. Connye had recently retired from her mental health consulting position, and was ready to become a full partner in the business. We had long agreed that the next move was to be into a purchased building of our own, not another leased facility. The problem was in finding a suitable, yet affordable facility.
Together we explored dozens of building in dozens of different communities in the DFW area. In July that year we discovered the 140 year old building at 10 E Chambers St, on the courthouse square, in Cleburne, Texas.
It was love at first sight.The old building had been empty for two decades. It had been damaged by an out of control car, windows were covered with plywood, there was damage from roof leaks with collapsed ceilings, falling sheetrock, and general lack of maintenance.
Despite its flaws it was a historic building, constructed by Barzillai J Chambers, the “father” of Cleburne, and full of architectural and historical treasures. Connye and I both could see the possibilities. We agreed this was where we were supposed to be. It wasn’t really in our budget, but we took a leap of faith and bought the building. Over the last 18 months the building has been repaired, the shop moved more than 50 miles, tens of thousands of books entered into the new POS system implemented as part of the transition,... and we have spent many tens of thousands of dollars more than we have taken in.
My goal when we took this step was to make The Published Page Bookshop one of the finest bookstores in Texas and the surrounding region. It still is.
We’re not there yet. When we came to Cleburne I thought this would be a three step process. The first step was to fully occupy the eastern half of our first floor, creating a big, significant, small town bookstore, and to integrate ourselves into our new community. We host monthly community activities, have hosted and participated in more tha a hundred events, donated hundreds of dollars in gift certificates to many, many community organizations.
Although this is ongoing, I believe we have largely succeeded. Our shop is already, at least in the owner’s opinion, one of the top three bookshops within a 75 mile radius.
The next step is to build out the western side of our first floor. This will add space for another 30,000+ volumes, and allow us to load our extensive collection of geological (more than 12,000 volumes) and our Military and Weapons collection (5,000+ volumes). All the materials to complete this phase have been purchased and are ready for assembly. The site planning is complete. I am hoping to start the work within the next ten days. This will be a two step phase, with the front half completed very soon.
I believe when the first floor is complete Cleburne will have one of the finest used, out-of-print, rare & new bookstores in the state of Texas. We already have many regular customers who travel to Cleburne from Dallas, Fort Worth, Waco and beyond specifically to visit The Published Page. Opening the rest of the first floor should extend this radius to make us a destination from around the state.
The final step will be to complete the extensive repairs and upgrades needed to bring our historic second floor back into use. This will be the most costly portion of the process, but will also be the step that takes The Published Page into a different category of shops. I believe when this phase is completed Cleburne, Texas will have one of the finest bookshops in the southwestern United States on its courthouse square right in the middle of its Historic Downtown. It's going to take a while to get there, but the goal hasn’t changed, and we’re making progress.
Keep an eye on us for updates.
Come take a virtual tour (January, 2019)
The first episode of the Internet TV program Downtown Heroes featured our shop, The Published Page Bookshop. Be delighted to have you take a different look at our shop, and hear a few of our plans.