The bookstore guy
“The bookstore guy.” Even if there wasn’t a picture staring you in the face, there’s a good chance you’d know exactly who it was from just those three words. Even more than owner Ron Barrett (that Abraham Lincoln-looking dude you may have seen unloading boxes of books from his van), Josh Mills is the face of Chico’s beloved The Bookstore. Now 33, married and the father of two kids, Mills has been with the store for 15 years.
Noticed changes in people’s book-buying habits over the years?
There’s been a lot more Oprah people. Oprah kicked off that whole thing with a whole bunch of readers. There’s a lot more people reading, but they’re all reading the same 10 books.
You don’t deal in any university texts do you?
No, they’re big and heavy and they’re only worth money once. We leave it to the other guys.
Anything else you don’t take?
Romances, Reader’s Digest condensed books and textbooks. There’s other bookstores that deal with that, so everyone has their own specialty I guess.
What are you into, personally?
Oh god, I couldn’t pin it down. Everything. Science and Natural History, non-fiction are my favorite subjects. The dead guys.
Do you get first pick on stuff that’s brought in?
Sure. It’s a perk.
Still feeling the presence of Barnes & Noble?
Barnes & Noble and all those places really hurt downtown a lot. Basically, the biggest blow to us was when Tower [Books] left. We had a lot of back and forth traffic, and all that new-bookstore money went out there because they didn’t come downtown anymore.
Amazon must have an effect too?
It’s definitely hurt us. The Internet is killing us. People’s attention spans are a lot shorter now. They’re just used to going, “click, click” and they’re there. This is kind of a browser bookstore, hardcore. Just today a lady said that this guy brought his girlfriend from Italy or something like that, drove her all the way up here—he lived in San Francisco—to show her the “best bookstore in the world.” We get a lot of that.
The most off-the-wall book anyone’s asked for?
This guy and his girlfriend came in and asked me if I could figure out how to find her G-spot. They actually wanted me to find it in the book and show where her G-spot was. So I had to go [find the] diagram and point out where it was. That was interesting.