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A presentation about A Readers Corner on Louisville Life, PBS.org

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A Google Tour of 'A Reader's Corner Bookstore' 

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Excerpts from local newspapers about A Reader's Corner Bookstore:

St. Matthews Store Displays Large Kentucky Book Collection 
by Martha Elson 
Ronnie Jandt's fascination with Kentucky history began with a book, "The Louisville Story," given to him by his grandfather. It was distributed in the early 1950s by the city's Sinking Fund Commission (now the Louisville-Jefferson County Revenue Commission). He hung onto that, too, and 15 years and about 2,000 books later, Jandt had amassed what he believes to be one of the largest private collections of books about Kentucky in the state... Tim Fout, whom Jandt had met two years ago, and his wife Judy, had opened A Reader's Corner used book store in St. Matthews last December. They bought the Kentucky collection for their store and unveiled it last month. Jandt gets to keep an eye on the collections because he works part time at the store. He and Fout, of the Poplar Level Road neighborhood, became friends after meeting at a Kentucky Book and Paper trade show... Included in the collection are books on the history of Berea, Methodism in Kentucky, a history of the state's hemp industry, the 1937 flood and the lives of Kentucky historian John Filson and Catholic Bishop John Baptist David, for whom the old Bishop David High School (now Holy Cross) was named. Among the titles are "Plays From Actors Theatre of Louisville by Southern Playwrights," autographed by Kentucky writer Wendell Cherry, whose "The Cool of the Day" is included: a reprint of the 1832 Louisville Directory; the multi-volume "Ohio Falls Cities and Their Counties" from 1882; a signed, first Kentucky edition of Robert Penn Warren's "World Enough and Time: A Romantic Novel," and "City of Conflict, Louisville in the Civil War: 1861-1865" by Robert Emmett McDowell. There's also a first edition of Gethsemani monk Thomas Merton's "Seven Storey Mountain" and other works written or translated anonymously by Merton, including a 100th anniversary of the Abbey of Gethsemani. The Kentucky volumes are among about 15,000 books at the shop, which also specializes in religion and philosophy. The Fouts belong to St. Martin Catholic Church and Tim Fout is a temporary, part-time philosophy and logic teacher at the University of Louisville, where he received a master's degree in philosophy... Before opening the bookstore, he had been selling books over the Internet and still posts about 500 titles from the store through an Internet book-selling service. Opening the store has fulfilled a dream, he said. It was "one of those things that was always in the back of my mind." 
Neighborhoods, Courier-Journal, September 23, 1998.
A different kind of bookseller: Tim Fout's used book business started from a box in his home;
now he sells as many as a third of his books online 
by Rebecca L. Martin 
Tim Fout's little bookstore, hidden on a side street in St. Matthews, doesn't look like a hot spot of worldwide book sales. But within the cozy walls of A Reader's Corner on Wiltshire Avenue is a daily sales operation reaching to countries as far away as Japan and Malaysia. Fout makes about one-third of his money selling books through the Internet... Fout was working as a general manager for ECT Services Ltd., a company that designs environmental control units, and selling common used books from his home. He bought the books from thrift stores and auctions and sold them casually through a trade magazine called AB Bookman's Weekly. But in December 1995, Fout realized he could take what had been his spare-time bookselling hobby to a whole new level. During a visit with relatives in Indianapolis for the holidays, Fout was taking his annual tour of use-book stores the day after Christmas while his wife, Judy, and family shopped. It was then that he first heard of Internet book listings... In about a month, he made his first sale... Fout liked selling on the Internet, but he wasn't pleased with how slowly the books sold... Researching for the future For the next year, Fout didn't do much with the site other than update it and manage the few sales he received. He spent most of his time working at ECT and teaching part-time for local universities and colleges... In May 1997, after living among boxes of books for two years, the Fouts began looking for space to lease for a store. In October 1997 they leased the Wiltshire location. Fout ordered 6,500 books from an advertisement in a trade magazine and, in November, had shelves built and coated for the store... Fout did not disclose sales from the store, but he said he broke even within the first six months of being open. He said costs reached about $15,000 to lease the space, buy shelves and stock the store. Most of Fout's books sell for between $5 and $20... Prices for the listing services vary between $25 and $40 a month, depending on how many books he lists on each site, Fout said. He said he sells enough books to pay for the cost of the services in the first three days of each month. Internet sales are becoming "necessity..." "One can argue that e-commerce for book selling has moved from a leading-edge business tool to a business necessity," he wrote. "Independent book selling will have great difficulty surviving without a competitive, customer-oriented e-commerce service..." Regardless of opinions against his style of business, Fout has been so pleased with the store and the Internet sales that he left his job with ECT this summer to work at the book business full time... If he goes beyond 15,000 listings, he will need to buy a warehouse. "It's kind of a hard thing to decide," he said. Fout said he has goals he hopes to achieve in sales, but that they are always "in development." He declined to elaborate on them. Overall, Fout said, he's pleased with his decision to be a full-time bookseller. "I think it's very enjoyable, and I think it has a lot of potential," he said. "So far, it's lived up to all my expectations." 
October 15, 1999 Print Edition
Eclectic bookstore seeks to expand niche: Larger space in St. Matthews brings challenges, rewards 
by Caroline Lynch 
The store, called A Reader's Corner Bookstore, is celebrating its move from a tiny, out-of-the-way space to a street-front location at Willis Avenue and Breckenridge Lane in St. Matthews. Owners Tim and Judy Fout have had the store for nearly six years, and the move about three months ago from a hidden spot on Wiltshire Avenue, also in St. Matthews, has given them three times the space and made room for 50,000 new, used, rare and out-of-print books. The Fouts are hoping their new locale, and some inventory changes prompted by the move, will draw more customers. Being in a more mainstream location also has brought customers looking for more mainstream books... In response, the store is selling more new books, greeting cards and bookmarks. The paperback fiction section, and others, have expanded. The additional space also allows the couple to capitalize on the recent sale of locally owned Hawley-Cooke by filling a void its stores left... "We're hoping remainders sell well at Christmas," he said, opening the cover of one hardback in the store to show the $6 price penciled inside the $30 book. Though many Hawley-Cooke customers may find what they're looking for at chain stores, the Fouts think some of the more eclectic shoppers might be better served with their store. Most books are priced between $5 and $15, but some rare books are as high as $600. Beyond prices, A Reader's Corner offers a shopping experience different from at a chain... In the fiction section recently, customer Robert Gentry held four books with one arm and picked through others novels with his free hand. Gentry said he should be getting books form the library. He reads about four a week and said his wife has scolded him for spending so much money and space on books. But last Tuesday, Gentry just couldn't resist--and better to shop at A Reader's Corner than a chain he said. "I just know I could spend the same amount here and get more books," he said. "Buying them new is just too expensive." Tim Fout said customers who frequent used bookstores are a different breed of book buyer. They're usually avid readers looking for a good price and often are more savvy than other book buyers. Some are looking for books off the beaten path, but many just browse until they find something interesting. "They realize that most books that exist are out of print," he said. "You aren't going to find them at a Borders or a Barnes and Noble..." "We have enough books under the roof to accommodate eight to 10 times the customers we have," Tim Fout said. 
November 3, 2003 edition