1 of 2
Photo provided by BSR Used Books
Local authors pose with BSR owner Bruce Campbell (center) next to an outdoor mural.
2 of 2
Photo provided by BSR Used Books
BSR’s science fiction room, a small sample of a collection of more than 50,000 used books.
GRANITE CITY — Shelves upon shelves of books, forgotten tomes of curious lore covering a dizzying array of genres, stacked high, stretching from floor to ceiling — it’s not the Hogwart’s library from the Harry Potter series, but BSR Used Books in downtown Granite City. The shop has been owned and operated by Bruce and Stacie Campbell since 2010.
“I earned my bachelor’s of science in information systems in 2008, and I was unable to find a job. Stacie and I thought that if I can’t find a job, I needed to make one. We looked around and saw that what Granite City needed was a bookstore,” explains Bruce, a giant of a man, with enough arm reach to help customers with those top-shelf books.
According to the Campbells, their impressive collection grew from 8,000 books they received from garage sales and cleaning out their landlord’s storage lockers. The shelves were obtained after the closing of Eden Seminary.
“The operations head talked to the Seminary, and he came back with $200. At the time we thought that meant for each 3-foot section of shelves. But no. As it turned out, it was $200 for all the shelves that we wanted,” Bruce said. After the first year, their assortment grew to a staggering 22,000 books, and that was just the start.
The rapid growth of the used book collection necessitated a move in March 2014 to BSR’s current location on the corner of Niedringhaus Avenue and State Street.
“It was a big job as we had to move 50,000 books, covering 26 genres in just nine days. We had a lot of help from the community and we were able to move on time,” Bruce said. The new location, a former law office, not only offered more space, but increased visibility.
“Since we moved, our sales have increased. Just about every day, I get a least one new customer that had never been to the old store. The move was a lot of hard work, but it was a success,” he said.
From time to time, BSR offers literary-themed events from traditional author bookstore signings to the quirkier, like Literary Speed Dating.
“It’s similar to regular speed dating, but each party brings their favorite books and the matches are based in part on similar reading interests,” Bruce said. The store also hosts writers groups and supports local authors, even giving them a chance to have their work immortalized on the building, with an outdoor bookshelf mural.
BSR accepts book donations and takes books on a trade-in policy, giving customers 50 percent in-store credit on the used selling price. Books taken in trade must be in good condition with no missing pages, torn or missing covers, stains and odor-free. BSR accepts all genres except for encyclopedias, condensed or abridged books, and non-fiction more than 10 years old.
“We are always looking for urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and any very recent fiction. We love to get classics and books with popular movies and TV shows, like ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Game of Thrones’,” Bruce said.
The Campbells’ enthusiasm for reading is apparent not just from their impressive collection but in their heartfelt expression.
“It is so easy to lose yourself in a book. They can take you on fantastic adventures in faraway lands. I found books to relieve stress,” said Bruce, smiling as he led a tour through a maze of books into various rooms, each focused on a specific genre like science fiction or romance.
BSR Used Books is located at 1400 Niedringhaus, and is open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Store and event information can be found online at www.facebook.com/BSRUsedBooks or by calling (618) 920-5932.