We had the pleasure of interviewing Lyn Roberts, General Manager of Square Books in Oxford, MS! Notably known for their charming 1970's building and a huge array of different books by authors all over the world, Square Books is a must-visit spot in Mississippi. Read on for more information and photos of this charming little and continually growing business!
What/who exactly is Square Books?
Square Books is an independent bookstore comprised of three storefronts, Square Books, Off Square Books and Square Books, Jr., located on the historic square in downtown Oxford, Mississippi.
How did you get started and what was the inspiration to take the small business leap?
In 1979, Richard & Lisa Howorth opened Square Books on the second story of one of the stores on the square. After the store was established, and the business growing steadily, they purchased a building across the square with street level frontage and later added the other two stores. Richard had been interested in opening a bookstore from a young age, and they thought that it was a shame that in William Faulkner's home town there was no place to purchase his books.
How does Mississippi play a role in your business?
Square Books celebrates Mississippi's tradition of literature and Mississippi storytellers past and present. An entire wall in the front of the main store is devoted to books by and about Mississippians. Square Books, however, stocks titles that are of national and international interest, so all readers will feel at home and be able to select their next book.
What are your goals for your brand?
We want Square Books to be thought of as a bookstore providing excellent customer service with a staff that is knowledgeable and courteous in an atmosphere that is comfortable for patrons to browse.
What is your background?
Richard Howorth grew up in Oxford and Lisa Howorth grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. Lisa came to Oxford to study William Faulkner. Together they worked at the Savile Book Shop in Washington to learn the business before they opened up their own shop in 1979.
Where do you find inspiration?
Working in a bookstore, one can't help but be inspired--by the store patrons and readers, by writers past and present, by the publishers and editors and everyone who makes it possible for books to exist and enrich our lives and our world.
What do you like to do when you aren't "at the office"?
What are your favorite local places to shop and dine?
Unlike many small towns, the heart and main business district of Oxford is the square built around the old county courthouse. The square is a vibrant place and has many stores and restaurants, all independently owned. There are no franchises or chains on the square; every businesses is home grown. This allows for a lot of variety and rich experiences.
What are some of the reasons you call Mississippi home?
Mississippi is a hospitable state and people are friendly. Storytelling runs strong here and the atmosphere encourages artistic creativity. The past is not forgotten, and some of the state's history is dark and troubled. Mississippians today are aware of that and looking toward a future of unity among all Mississippians. Sometimes there are state laws and actions that hinder us from moving toward that future, and may even drag us back, but we believe that the tide is strong and Mississippi will be united by our shared stories.
How do you think what you are doing is helping to shape your local community as well as the image of Mississippi?
Square Books provides a place for all to gather, to browse and to buy books. Everyone is welcome and we endeavor to make available the books each reader wants for their own education, entertainment and enlightenment. We host events for authors to read or discuss their work and help support a community that in turn supports the arts.
Charming, huh? Makes us want to take a quick trip to Oxford, grab a cup of coffee and sit on their porch for hours! Want to know more about Square Books, OFF Square Books or Square Books, Jr.? Check them out here!