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First Coast Connect: Chamblin Bookstores Celebrates 40 Years

Anthony M. Inswasty

The Chamblin bookstore will be celebrating its 40th anniversary Saturday at its uptown location, 215 N. Laura St., beginning at 7 p.m.

Laura Street will be closed for the celebration.

Ron Chamblin and author Tim Gilmore spoke on Thursday’s First Coast Connect about the anniversary and how far the independent book chain has come in the last 40 years.

Chamblin purchased his first store for $7,500 with a few thousand books to sell. Fast forward to 2016, and he now has two stores — Chamblin Bookmine and Chamblin Uptown — with about three million copies of new, used and rare titles.

Chamblin worked seven days a week in his bookstore and it was not until just recently he decided to take a Sunday off.

“It’s not an easy business,” he said. “It is not like a new bookstore — there is a lot more to it, and I just don’t take anything for granted. You don’t want to be weak in the marketplace.”

The square footage of his bookstores allows for a wide variety of titles and genres, which is something Chamblin believes keeps his high number of customers.

The Chamblin bookstores have become a common meeting place for different businesses, students, and even joggers.

Gilmore, who is the author of over 13 books, will be reading parts from his newest one, “We Are All Used Books,” which contains 70 conversations between himself and Chamblin.

He said he has always wanted to write about Chamblin because of his intensity, so when the offer presented itself, he couldn’t say no.

“A bookstore like Chamblin’s works as an alternative educational institution and every town doesn’t have that,” said Gilmore.

Gilmore added hundreds are expected to come to the event and encourages all to “celebrate Chamblin, books, and the literacy culture of this town.”