I love local history.
I love the way our ancestors wrote about their lives and the events surrounding them in their time, the photographs they took, and the way it still shows up in our everyday lives in different forms.
Old buildings, old monuments, old streets, old signs... and old books.
It’s hard for many to remember books in today’s digital age; if it’s not on Facebook, it barely registers to half the world. (And yes, I'm aware of the irony that you likely got to this story by clicking a link on Facebook). But one store hasn't forgotten the original vessels of literature. Ohio Book Store has been selling books to countless readers on Main Street since 1941.
A WWII CINCINNATI
It's the epitome of a place that straddles a portal between a bygone era and the present. In a basement filled with active, original book binding and printing materials, you’d think you’d stepped back in time for a moment when you realize very specific pieces of machinery haven’t changed in 75 years.
75 years. ... That’s an average human lifetime.
But as you check out the other four floors of old books, you’ll notice new books that remind you you’re still in a modern world. A torn up 19th-century Bible waits to be restored in the basement while a 1971 Farmer’s Almanac which hasn’t been touched in years sits on a shelf just 50 feet from a copy of the Da Vinci Code. Meanwhile, on the floor above, fluorescent lighting clashes with natural sunlight across the brilliant red cover of an Emperor Hirohito biography placed next to a 2003 Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
The juxtapositions of these titles are odd and often comical when you really analyze what you’re seeing. That’s a hefty part of the charm of this place. It’s a visual treasure hunt in every way.
And you’ll lose track of time while getting lost in the stacks of all the subjects and potential avenues for education and entertainment. Sunlit chairs on the second and third floors beckon you to sit and comfortably flip through the novel that caught your eye, and before you know it, it’s closing time. You never know what treasure you’ll find hidden in the shelves, but extra time to go through everything is sadly not there.
A PLACE AMONG FLYING PIGS
At this point, Ohio Book Store is as much a part of Cincinnati history as Union Terminal, Shillitos, and the Taft family are. It’s still open every week, it'll still fix your old books in an authentic way, it’s still selling books on every subject, and it’ll still be there tomorrow waiting for you to come enjoy what it has to offer.
Go visit Ohio Book Store, dig around its shelves, and pull out something you like. You’ll be really glad you did.
Ohio Book Store has been located at 726 Main Street in Downtown Cincinnati (45202) for 75 years.