Dennis Ashby began Well Read Books as a “hobby business in semi-retirement” back in 1998. A life-long bibliophile, Ashby has possessed an affinity for books and bookstores throughout the varied chapters of his own life, in which he has worn the hats of farmer, attorney, pastoral care minister, and adjunct university professor. Even in “semi-retirement,” Ashby continues to teach classes ranging from Sports Law to Small Business Management for local universities, including Grand View and Upper Iowa.
Well Read Books may not provide Ashby with an income (“sometimes I break even,” he says), but the experience it offers outweighs the occasional fiscal loss. “I enjoy it, I enjoy the people,” Ashby says. As far as customers go, a “very wide variety of people” come to browse through the pages of Well Read Books. Ashby says, “You just never know who is going to walk in the door.”
Because his store serves as a hobby rather than a money-making operation, Ashby doesn’t strike slow-selling books from their shelves as hastily as other bookstore owners do. “I’m not judgmental of my books,” he says. Consequently, a rich collection of obscure and hard-to-find texts pepper the walls of his store. “It’s more of a treasure hunt than a convenience-store-type quick visit,” Ashby readily admits. But of course, therein lies the charm of Well Read Books (click to read the entire article).