First Posted: 4/1/2012

Ruth Tetschner always wanted to own a book store.

But that dream was too expensive – and too risky – to come to fruition.

“Book shops have a high rate of failure,” said Tetschner, an avid reader.

Now the former teacher and principal at the Dallas and Westmoreland elementary schools can say she runs a book shop, though the books inside the shop have been Slightly Read.

Tetschner, of Trucksville, is the manager of the Slightly Read Bookshop in the basement of the Back Mountain Memorial Library on Huntsville Road.

Tetschner ran the book shop in its early stages before moving away from the area. When former manager Fred Krohle died in early January, Tetschner stepped back into the position.

“I have a book shop that has no rent, no paid personnel and the inventory is donated,” she said.

The shop has increased its hours to be open six days a week, making it even more competitive with stores that carry brand new books.

“We’re the largest used book store in Luzerne County,” said Tetschner.

About 40 volunteers donate their time and skills to keep the book shop running. It got its start in 1998 after library board members noticed the overflow of books for sale at the library’s annual auction.

All the shop’s proceeds benefit the Back Mountain Memorial Library. Tetschner estimates it draws in about $10,000 yearly for the library, but more days open for business will mean more money to keep the library afloat.

Many of the book shop’s current volunteers have donated time there since the store’s humble beginnings. Three volunteers who helped sort books on a recent Wednesday admitted they’ve been working at the shop for about 10 years each.

Tetschner said the volunteers keep the book store going, and the donations keep the book store filled. She estimates there are about 12,000 books in the shop at any given time.

Sometimes the books received are already a well-known part of the inventory.

For example, the shop is currently running a “Steal a Steele” special, in which patrons can buy a book by Danielle Steele and receive another for free. The shop has more than 250 Steele books.

“I sold about 15 of them and then got a donation that replaced the ones I sold,” laughed Tetschner. “I wish they could be used for household insulation.”

And sometimes, the books that come in through the library doors are worth more than one might think. Tetschner said the book shop works with a book dealer who helps with finding and securing the rightful price of older books.

Some books have been sold for thousands of dollars. A book entitled “Cakes by Design” currently on display is priced at $25. Online, the book sells for about $50.

“It’s still half price, but we get more money for the library,” said Tetschner.

The book shop also has a Frequent Reader’s Club, which includes a card that gets marked for every $5 spent in the store. After 10 marks, readers receive $5 off their purchase.

For every $10 spent at the book shop, patrons get a free Slightly Read Bookshop tote bag. With most books priced from $.25 to $6.50, that tote bag might be filled to the brim.

“We’re a good resource if you want to read John Grisham’s earlier works,” said Tetschner. “We have them all.”

The paperback room hosts hundreds of books, and patrons can keep however many of those books they can stuff into a paper bag for just $2.

“You can’t get a better bargain,” she said.

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