In 2018, Jim Jacobs (YA author) and I had a book signing scheduled in West Burlington, Iowa at Book World. Before we could shout, “Come on in and talk about books!” the store closed, along with forty-four other Book Worlds. Not all was lost, however. We met Teri Parks, the manager of that Book World, and found out that she had a dream to open her own bookstore. That seemed like an impossible task given the financial climate and the road record of independent bookstores opening and closing. Over the next two years, we ran into Teri and her family in different places, and she always repeated that whatever the obstacles, she’d get this store off the ground. Believe me, there were plenty of obstacles.

Then, last fall, she did it. Teri, with the help of her parents, husband, and daughter opened Wordsmith Bookshoppe in my hometown of Galesburg, Illinois, a town of 32,000 that had not seen a bookstore in ten years. There had been a combination bookstore/video games/comic book store, but not a store devoted strictly to books.

Wordsmith Bookshoppe has 2,200 square feet of retail space with books, magazines, and literary-themed gifts. When they are fully stocked, they have 1500 magazine titles, the largest inventory in West Central Illinois. They also carry 18,000 books in 59 different genres. It is an amazing and enchanting place. Readers will think they’ve died and gone to heaven when they walk in the door. Teri has put so much imagination into both the store and her inventory.

Wordsmith Bookshoppe is an independent bookstore, which means she is not affiliated with big box stores like Barnes and Nobles. Teri employs several people from the local area, all of whom love books. Already building lasting loyalty from customers and local authors, Teri survived not only her first year—well, it’s almost twelve months—but she has lasted through the pandemic. Much of that is due to her relationships in the reading community and her strong ties to local authors. She plans events that bring the community in her doors, albeit with social distancing and masks these days. But still, they come.

We appreciate her knowledge and her ability to sell books, and she has a special place in her heart for local writers. She hand-sells many of the books that go out of her store because she loves to talk to her customers about books.

If you’re in the area, stop in and see Teri’s store at 235 East Main Street in Galesburg, Illinois. She’d love to talk books with you.




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