One local used book store, Paperbacks Plus, is in the middle of celebrating 40 years in Mesquite. The business, which initially began in a small building in downtown Mesquite has continued to expand over the years and now includes two locations in Dallas, under the Lucky Dog Books name.
“My wife [Marquetta] and I started the business. We have always been readers ever since we were young,” said John Tilton, Paperbacks Plus and Lucky Dog Books owner.
The company began in 1974 in a small building on Davis Street, which is still located next to its current location. The business has been in its current home, located at 108 E. Davis Street, since 1976. Tilton couldn’t recall exactly how they ended up in Mesquite but the $100 a month rent at that time was affordable and his wife’s sister lived in Mesquite at the time.
Prior to opening the book store, Tilton would make signs at his father’s shop in Terrell and would deliver them to various retailers. During one of his trips he recalls trading a sign for a drink cooler. He was then able to trade that cooler for 1,100 paperback books from another book store.
“Those 1,100 books were a big boost to our inventory,” Tilton said.
Tilton said once the business got started building inventory was not a problem since they people were always looking to sell or trade their used books.
“People are always bringing stuff in to trade. Unlike other book stores, we offer to let them pay for up to half of their purchases by trade,” Tilton said.
The excess inventory is what led the company to expand to a second and eventually third location. Despite changes in technology that have seen people transition to e-books, Tilton said there is still a demand for real books.
“A lot of people still really want books. When they want to get a book they can come in and see everything we have all in one place. It offers them a lot of options,” Tilton said.
Tilton said as a used bookseller he has had the opportunity to be exposed to many books he never would have known of if he sold new books. He recalls one book that caught his attention a few years ago entitled Gradual Evolution of Voodoo by François "Papa Doc" Duvalier. He said the book was from Haiti and offered the author’s opinions on politics and voodoo. The book is unique since Papa Doc ruled Haiti for 14 years, from 1957 until 1971.
“I have not seen another copy of that book anywhere since,” Tilton said.
The company had initially planned to do a 40 day celebration in honor of its birthday but has decided to extend the celebration until June 28 due to its popularity.
As part of the birthday celebration, the bookstores are offering 10 percent off the cash portion of every purchase of recycled items with no limit on the number of purchases. Any store credit from trade-ins may be applied first to further reduce the cost.
As a special bonus for others of a similar age to the Mesquite store, anyone born in 1973 or 1974 will be entitled to a one-time 40 percent discount in a similar manner for up to 10 items. A photo ID showing your birth date is required.
Everyone coming to one of the stores during the birthday celebration will be entitled to a free gift of the day. The gifts are one per person, per day, per location. Daily gifts are announced each day on the Facebook pages for each location.