Karen Ervin has always dreamed of owning a small bookstore. That dream became a reality when she purchased The Book Nook, a New Castle business at 1725 G Ave.
Ervin’s has been a local staple since 1989. 4, 2010. The store has approximately 35,000 titles.
“It’s really a special store,” Owen said. “Everyone, well, almost everyone, knows or has heard of The Book Nook. I think customers love the vibe, the friendly help, the way the books are displayed and the wonderful smell of Snickers Doodle Cookies when they come in It will melt.”
Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm, the store offers new and used books. Available genres include Romance, Historical Romance, Modern, Supernatural, Adventure, Classic, Spy, War, Self-Help, Nonfiction, Religious Fiction, Religious Nonfiction, True Crime, and Horror.
The store also has a good selection of large print material, as well as a dedicated section for Henry County authors, including Mark Sean Orr and Mark Herbexman.
“We’ve got a little bit of everything,” Irving said. “People might find a book in the series they need.”
If a customer wants a book that Owen doesn’t have in the store, she can order it. Depending on when the order is placed, the desired book will usually arrive the next day.
In addition to books, the shop also sells small gifts including handmade accessories, figurines, air fresheners and candle warmers/melters.
MaryEtta Thurman, a lifelong Newcastle resident, has been volunteering at The Book Nook for the past three years after retiring from her laboratory work at Henry Community Health.
“I dropped my blood for books,” Thurman joked, adding that she tries to read a variety of books so she can make recommendations to customers and promote the best titles.
For Thurman, customers are her favorite part of the store.
“People come here, it’s their bookstore,” she said. “They love this place. They’re kind, thoughtful, and just a lot of fun.”
Used Paperbacks Needed
Book Nook accepts used paperbacks as customer credit. To calculate the credit a customer gets, Owen multiplies the book’s original price by 0.25. Then, add up the list prices of the books the customer wants to buy and divide them in half.
“Half of the total purchase comes from their available credit, and the other half is paid in cash, plus taxes,” explains Owen.
Books purchased from The Book Nook can also be returned for a credit.
“It’s a great way to recycle and keep books from piling up somewhere,” Owen said.
Karen Ervin, a Hagerstown resident, is married to Ed Ervin. The couple have four children and eight grandchildren.
Ervin is a graduate of Pendleton High School, has an Associate’s Degree in Computer Programming from Ivy Tech, and is certified in Accounting. Before retiring, she worked as a bookkeeper/clerk for the New Castle Transit System for 18 years.
However, retirement didn’t last long.
“I couldn’t stand being at home,” she said.
So Owen went to work at the New Castle Big Lots store, and once the store closed, she contacted Janet Hughes, former owner of The Book Nook, about working at the store.
“I just loved it,” Owen said of his work at The Book Nook. “About a year later, Janet approached me to buy the store. The rest is history.”
“The most amazing thing about being a bookseller is how I got out of it,” Owen continued. “I was quiet and shy! But here, my whole personality has changed.”
Although Owen reads a variety of books, her favorite book is “A Tree in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith.
“This book is so sweet,” she said. “I must have read it five or six times.”
Other writers Owen likes include Kristen Hannah and Stephen King.
“Books give me a break from worries or problems,” she says. “It’s kind of like escaping to another world. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are. ” exactly!
support small business
Ervin says the best part of her business is interacting with people.
“I love customers and talking to them,” she said. “People are what keep my little shop going. I’ve met some really great people.”
One such person was the late Charlene Perry, local author of the “Haunted County Henry” series of novels. Perry died in 2013.
“Charlene is a wonderful person and a great writer,” Owen said. “We could go on and on.”
According to Owen, there are some days when the bookstore is “very busy” as people check out books and browse the shelves. Other days are slower.
“I’m always checking to make sure the books are in the correct section,” she said. “I’ve had people stand for an hour or two looking for their favorite authors.”
The Book Nook has a 4.5 star rating on Google and many long-term repeat customers.
“My favorite place to go when I’m in town to visit family,” wrote Sam Worley. “When I said I was going to Newcastle, my grown kids gave me a list of books to buy. They didn’t want any other souvenirs from my trip, just something from The Book Nook.”
Erwin said it was unusual in this day and age for a small town like Newcastle to have a locally owned and independently run bookshop.
“Those stores just closed left and right,” she said. “I’m doing everything I can to keep this small store open. I have lots of regular customers but I’m always in need of new ones too. Just want everyone to support small businesses. It’s nice to be in town and shop.”
To contact The Book Nook, call 765-521-2188 or visit their Facebook page. If the weather is bad, news of the store closing will be posted on Facebook.