From booking to bookselling

DeWayne Bartels
Steve Smith, owner of The Booksmith, arranges books at his store.

When Steve Smith retired as Peoria County Jail superintendent Nov. 30, he had no plans to become a businessman.

But, that is exactly what he has become as owner of The Booksmith, a store specializing in old, rare, new and used books. In effect, he has gone from booking people to selling books.

Smith opened the store, located right behind Donnelly’s Pub on Glen Avenue, in December.

“I hit the ground running. I’ve been busy stocking the store,” Smith said.

Right now, he has a few hundred volumes in the small store. But, as an avid book collector and seller for 15 years, Smith said he has many more volumes to bring to the store from home. For the last decade-and-a-half, he has sold books at antique malls and fairs. Smith said he jumped at the chance when he found the storefront at a reasonable price.

“This wasn’t my plan. It’s just things fell into place,” Smith said. “I thought, ‘Why not.’ I have a huge inventory. I’ve got a shed full of stuff. I’m on the lookout all the time.”

Smith said he still has a lot to learn about the book business, but learning is fun.

“I don’t know all authors and all books. I’m more versed on older authors,” he said.

See more on this story in this week's issue of the Peoria Times-Observer.