Our Story

Robie Books has been a small family business since its beginning.  It had its grand opening as Robie and Robie: Fine Books in 2002.  Harry and Laura Robie, longtime residents of Berea, started this bookstore because of their personal love of books and this community.  Harry had retired from Berea College and was collecting books for himself as a hobby before he started selling books in an antique mall.  One story says that the accumulations from Harry’s book collecting had gotten so out of hand that he had to start selling books to maintain domestic peace; he’d actually been selling books for a few years before opening a this store.  He used the motto “A Browser’s Paradise” at the beginning and we have kept his tradition of offering diverse books for varied interests.  Harry brimmed with creative ideas and energy and enjoyed working as a true friend and mentor with his employees.  As business owners he and Laura had a responsive and egalitarian approach with their staff and always dreamed of eventually passing ownership of the business to their employees.

We have always sold a mix of used, remainder, and new books and we buy used books every day.  We have sold books online since we opened and currently sell used books through Alibris and Amazon, and that part of our business keeps us very busy.  With new books, we keep a mix of new titles on hand, but we have always been ready to order almost any title on request, and most special orders of new books are priced at 20% off list just as they were at the very beginning.  Even though we are a small business, on many books we beat the prices for even our biggest competitors and we can order all of the same titles you would find at a larger bookstore.

In 2009, the Robies followed through on their plans to sell the business to their employees, and Katlyn and Avena acquired the business, and changed to Robie Books to shorten the name while still honoring our founders.  Katlyn has recently moved on and now Avena and her husband Joe run the business together, working together as management, counter staff, data entry, shipping department, construction crew, and of course excited readers of new books!  We sure have lots of jobs!  It has been a challenge to maintain the business through volatile times, but we are blessed with a community of fabulous and loyal customers who love to read, and thanks to them our doors are still open and can be for many years to come.  We are glad to have the opportunity to provide this service to our community, and as always we hope we will see you soon.

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