Paperback Exchange remains open, despite what some former regulars think

WICHITA — When former Paperback Exchange owner Kenya Young decided she’d either sell or close her bookstore this summer, she told customers she’d have a big sale and try to sell everything if it were going to close.

She started that sale in July, but many regulars of the store at 455 N. West St. didn’t realize it didn’t end up closing. Renda Robertson, a middle school teacher, bought it.

“We still have some of her regular customers … who are just now hearing the store didn’t close,” Robertson says. “We need to get the word out.”

Initially, Robertson says she didn’t seek publicity because she wanted to make a few changes first, such as adding the ability to take credit cards instead of cash and checks only. She now takes cards and has expanded the store hours to Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and she’d like everyone to know.

Robertson learned the store might close by reading it in Have You Heard?

“The first thought that came to my mind was, ‘Oh, no, we can not have another bookstore close.’

“I just love bookstores. … Especially small bookstores (that) have their own characters.”

No one could understand why Robertson would buy the store, though.

“Everyone I talked to in that process said, ‘Why on earth would you buy a bookstore?’”

It may be the age of Kindles and other electronic reading devices, but Robertson says, “It’s not the same as holding a book in your hand.”

As much as she loves to read, Robertson is finding that two full-time jobs don’t allow for much down time.

“I certainly don’t read as much as I did before I owned a bookstore.”