The Bookshelf of Batesville Fast Facts:
- New and used titles
- Over 225,000 used books in store
- Special ordering and overnight delivery available
- Loyalty rewards program
- Accepts cash, credit, or Bookshelf of Batesville gift cards
From the outside, the Bookshelf of Batesville, Indiana doesn’t look like the biggest Indiana bookstore you’ve ever seen. In fact, you might mistakingly believe it to be small. It might even seem that way when you first step through the front door and are greeted with bookshelves.
Once you start winding your way around the books, you realize that this Batesville bookstore is a whole new animal.
There is nothing else like it.
Oh, owner Chris Fairchild told me her bookstore wasn’t anything different from other independent bookstores. But I know otherwise.
When you visit, you’ll get it, too.
The Bookshelf of Batesville is a place you can get lost in. Literally.
Sometimes, people can’t find their way out again, and yell, “Help!” I admit that makes me almost laugh out loud whenever I think of it. How embarrassing!
But since I happen to lack a sense of direction and must have what Netflix’s “The Good Place” describes as “directional insanity,” it’s all too easy to see how that could happen to me.
The Power of a Good Book
There are new books here and old books there. There are books in shelves and books in boxes. There are even books with foxes.
I couldn’t resist.
This isn’t an Indiana bookstore dedicated to only a specific type of book. There are children’s books and young adult books and adult books. You will find your mysteries, romance novels, and all the popular authors in every other genre you can think of.
As a kid, my mother made sure that we read picture books and magazines, like Humpty Dumpty, together each night. She grabbed books at the library or wherever she was that she thought I might like.
Later, trips to the mall were the best because it meant new books by my favorite authors. Back then, Christopher Pike, L.J. Smith, L.M. Montgomery, Cynthia Voigt, Stephen King, and Garfield were my favorites to read when I was a teen.
There is nothing like a good book.
When I was first dating the man who would become my husband, things were going great, until he made a comment about how he wasn’t really into reading.
Shut the front door.
That can’t be!
I figured he had never been handed a great book. He wasn’t from a family of readers like I was. So, I shoved my copy of “The Bachman Books” (when Stephen King wrote as Richard Bachman) into his hands while advising him to try “The Long Walk.”
That story changed his life.
Not in an “Oh, great, now I’m prepared in case society takes a different turn,” but more of a “who knew books could be like this?” sort of reaction.
And that was the start of something good, as they say.
This year, as part of my husband’s New Year’s resolution to read more books, he is FINALLY letting me choose books for him. He flew through my vintage copy of Sir Author Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World,” and is moving onto “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton.
After that, I’m handing him a great book on philosophy, “Sophie’s World,” and then either “Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck or “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck. They are some of my favorite books of all-time.
But then, I recently finished “Gold Diggers” by Charlotte Gray. It’s a book about the Yukon gold rush and absolutely amazing. It may be up there on his list, too.
He’s got a great year of books ahead of him.
You can bet I’ve passed my love of books to our boys. While packing for Little Indiana trips, getting ready for doctor’s appointments, time stuck in the car between destinations, before heading to school, or running errands, our boys remind each other, “You always need to bring a book.”
It’s what I say to them and what my mom always said to me.
They are 99% percentile type of readers, devouring books grades ahead of where they are. While it makes a mama proud, it also makes it tricky. For example, how do you keep a twelve-year-old, who reads at a college level, engaged in books without a lot of things in them I’d rather he not have access to just yet? Or, how do you find books that aren’t too complex for his age and maturity level or too dumbed down?
You can talk to your friends, you can remember the stuff you read, or you can make use of a valuable resource found inside the Bookshelf of Batesville.
When you can’t find what you want or you don’t even know what you need, you should start with the “Bookshelf ladies.”
The Bookshelf ladies are the staff of the Bookshelf of Batesville. These women received the nickname for being “book mind readers.” They know what book you should read and they know where it is going to be located in the store.
Indiana Bookstore with Books Galore
I decided it was time to speak with Chris Fairchild about her giant bookstore.
It began with picture books thirty-eight years ago. At the time, you couldn’t find children’s books anywhere. Fairchild remembers the ready availability of paperback books at drugstores…but not any high-quality books for kids.
That was the main focus of hers then and it still holds true today.
What kind of books do you carry at the Bookshelf of Batesville?
“I think we figured we have about 225,000 used books. Easy.”
She continued, “We try to have everything. About the only thing we know we don’t have is porn, but…especially now, even your best sellers are borderline so there really isn’t anything that we don’t mess with.”
“We have lots of romance. Bestsellers, mystery, suspense. We do carry Christian books and business books. We try to have some of anything and everything available.”
What are examples of books you carry people may not expect?
“If you are looking for a book on pets, cookbooks, travel books…lots of young adult books now since that genre has just exploded. There are lots of people who read YA…We even have Fire and Fury. We just carry everything.”
There are more specialized areas, such as for homeschool families.
Perhaps Fairchild says it best when she says,
“We have just all kinds of stuff.”
That they do.
Don’t get me wrong, books are the focus of the Bookshelf in Batesville, but there’s a couple of other items of interest there too (and some fun things possibly in the works).
Need a new bookmark? Of course, you do.
Chris shares, “The bookmarks are unique–not something you are going to get at Walmart. The buttons, we have those. Sometimes you find those when you are in a gift shop in a tourist area, you might find some of those things there.
Fairchild is looking into stocking greeting cards from a couple whose work just fits. But, space is at a premium inside the Bookshelf.
“If I can find just a corner of the store to put them in, we would like to start getting those cards simply because I need them! I still send cards!”
“We are landlocked. We can’t get any more.”
Now, the big question that I know is on all of your minds: does she carry the Little Indiana book?
“I think so. I think it’s here. I get a lot of stuff from IU. We do [get] a lot of stuff from IU press and the Indiana historical society.
What’s unique about the Bookshelf, other than the sheer selection, is this: there are self-published works available here too. The authors bring in their books and the Bookshelf makes them available to all of you.
As Fairchild says, “I do have a lot of self-published local writers. Sometimes very good, sometimes horrendously bad, but we will carry them for them.”
It makes sense. After all, what I enjoy may not be your thing, right? You could discover the next big thing before it is the next big thing.
The Bookshelf is going to carry a book that is a compilation of the blog articles a young pastor’s wife wrote while she was dying of ovarian cancer. He paired it with text from the Bible and, as Fairchild says, “It is just lovely. He really deserves to get a publisher. This one is good. I think Zondervan would easily be interested.”
Do you hear that, Zondervan? She’s read more than a few books. She knows what she is talking about. You read it here first, folks.
You would think that with a bookstore such as this, it would go to your head.
Fairchild maintains a sense of humbleness about the whole thing.
“I’m not really unique from any other independent bookstore. A lot of them are going to new and used [stock] because they have to–you almost can’t survive with just one or the other.”
“So there are a lot of other great independents in the Great Lakes area. Illinois, Michigan Indiana, and Ohio…lots of really cool bookstores.” I think we are pretty cool too. I think we are bigger…as far as used books go.”
I would have to agree.
How do so many books fit into her building? After all, she has “as many titles as much larger bookstores.”
“They are not face out, they are spine out. They always say to be sure to put your books face out.”
Fairchild laughs, “That’s not happening here. “
But that’s fine. Dedicated book lovers won’t mind browsing while the rest of the bunch can ask the Bookshelf ladies for assistance.
The Bookshelf Ladies
“Each one of my employees has their own area of expertise. One gal knows everything about mysteries. She knows the cottage mysteries, the suspense, she knows all that stuff.”
“Another [employee] is great in romance. If you ask, “I want a book, something like Nora Roberts, but I read all of Nora Roberts, who can you recommend?” She can rattle off a long list of them.”
While being a reader is important, the secret to a successful bookstore is having excellent employees.
“You have to have great help. Just because you like to read doesn’t mean you can work in a bookstore. You have to have a little bit of common sense and be up on pop culture. You have to be a little versed with what’s going on in the world to be able to help them find the right book.”
What would you like people to know about the Bookshelf of Batesville?
“We would love to see them. It’s tough. This climate is tough for bookstores. Amazon is a big problem. We are getting a lot of people back in that are tired of their devices, want to be able to hold a book, want to read it.”
Fairchild urged, “If they want to come in and browse, we have so many books here, and we try to keep all the newest things. If they have seen it in the New York Times or USA Today, we make every effort to have it on hand at least for a while. If they come in and say the last book I read was whatever and I loved it and want something like it, we can help them we can find them something they can enjoy.”
As always, make sure to call ahead before making a special trip. The Bookshelf of Batesville recently changed hours, and are closed on Sunday and Monday.
Go, you should.
Our home is stuffed to the gills with books. But there’s always room for one more.
With the selection and the prices at the Bookshelf of Batesville, it would almost be criminal to say, “no.”
Have you visited the Bookshelf of Batesville? What is your favorite section to browse? If you haven’t headed over yet, what sort of books are you most interested in reading? Leave your comments below. I’d love to read them.
the bookshelf of Batesville
101 North Walnut Street
Batesville, IN 47006
Bookshelf of Batesville Hours:
Tuesday- Thursday: 10 AM – 5 PM
Friday: 10 AM – 6 PM
Saturday: 10 AM – 2 PM
Sunday and Monday: Closed