HIGHLAND | The new entrance into the front of Miles Books is just one of the changes the almost 30-year-old business has undergone.
Owners Diane and Jim Roumbos have taken over the entire space the specialty bookstore had shared with a Paw’s resale shop.
The store, with more than 30,000 new and used books in both hardcover and paperback, has a vast collection of specialty titles, including Civil War, military history and philosophy. It also provides book repair, professional book appraisals and does Internet sales.
The store’s additional area, which opened in October, allows customers to enter from Highway Avenue rather than the alley behind the store. It also provides a large area where crafters, collectors and artisans can rent booth-space to sell their wares.
“We cut through the space in two parts with a 20-foot-wide opening between them,” Jim Roumbos said. “The additional room gives the bookstore 2,800 square feet of space, rather than the 1,200 we had before.”
The Rounbos’ also installed new fixtures, shelves and, for the first time, alphabetized the collection.
“It was a warehouse setting, now it’s more like a library,” Jim Roumbos said.
Miles Books still is thriving at a time when many large and small bookstores have closed. Jim Roumbos said it has been successful because the shop’s focus has always been on the customer.
“It took me a long time to figure out that book lovers will always love books,” he said. “I really enjoy helping people find books that they need or want. The important thing is that the books aren’t the priority. It’s the person. We match up a person’s wants and needs to the book.”
The store doesn’t carry bestsellers because they are available at so many other outlets making it difficult to compete on price, Roumbos said. Thus, Miles Books concentrates on a different segment of the market.
“I’ve attempted to make our stock unique,” Roumbos said. “Sales of new releases are falling, but the market for collectible, antiquarian and rare books is increasing in unit sales.”
The Internet and electronic books has changed the industry, but Roumbos says people will always want to touch, feel and own the special tomes they prize and love.
“Approximately three to four years ago the thinking was that the book would become obsolete, but as time went on people realized there is a place for both,” he said.
The area of the store being rented for booths should attract additional customers, as well as provide space for up to 50 individuals to showcase their talents and collections, Roumbos said.
The idea for the booths partially arose from an adviser whose wife works at a craft store.
“He said books stores are fine, but it’s good to have something special to get people to come in and look at your merchandise,” Roumbos said. “It provides a space for true crafters, and for true collectors to sell their items. It’s not a flea market.”