Glencoe bookseller says her shop’s story is far from over
Linda Illes is co-owner of Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Ave., in Glencoe. Books on Vernon is an independent bookseller and Illes is proud. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 5, 2013 11:14AM
Who says independent booksellers are yesterday’s news? Independently owned bookstores are here to stay, said Linda Illes, co-owner of Books On Vernon, 664 Vernon Ave. In fact, small bookstores offer diverse reading lists, fortified by local schools and book clubs. Illes, whose 25 years as a resident of Lake Forest have helped her to serve a sophisticated and educated North Shore customer base, co-owns the store with her son Mitchell Moore of Highland Park. Illes and Moore bought the store about nine years ago from three Glencoe women, Linda Wine, Pat Rahmann and Diane Schwartz. Illes has one other son, Scott, who lives west of Madison, Wis.
Q. What’s the story behind Books on Vernon?
A. We are an independent bookseller, not a dying breed, no matter what the media has to tell us. But we are here. We are alive and we are, for the most part, happy and content. The North Shore has a lot of readers, a lot of interesting people, we do a lot of work with the schools. The schools’ readers’ lists are lengthy and interesting. And we also have Writer’s Theatre here, so we have Writer’s Theatre patrons in six nights a week. And Writer’s Theatre patrons are nearly always book people.
Q. How does reading speak to you?
A. I came from rural Iowa and my love of books started because my mother was a reader. And we drove to town, which is what farmers did. And I spent the whole afternoon, while my parents shopped, in the local (Carnegie) library. That was my refuge from boredom of growing up by myself on a farm. I came to Chicago and went to nursing school. Those of us who grew up reading – I don’t remember not knowing how to read – and if we grew up reading, books are a passion. It’s better than chocolates, better than alcohol, for sure. And once you have the reading habit, It’s hard to not.
Q. What’s on your reading list?
A. My reading list? Right now, oh dear, right now I am reading “The Sisters of Sinai” which is about two women in the late 1800s who trekked through the Middle East and discovered one of the original manuscripts of the Gospels. Fascinating story. Children’s books, it’s hard to pick a favorite. There are so many wonderful classics that are still in print, and there are just terrific new ones coming out. Good illustrations. Anything by Eric Carle is wonderful.
Q. How can residents celebrate their independent booksellers?
A. The local people have to support us strongly. You can sell things on the Internet, and you can sell things in all different ways, but it’s people walking in your door that keep it going. And as long as we’re here, the kids who need a copy of Of Mice and Men at nine o’clock in the morning, they’re not going to get it anyplace but standing outside of my door waiting for it.