Mondragon Bookshop: An Oasis of Old and Unique Books

Looking for a book that hasn’t gained popularity from Tik Tok or mainstream trends? Mondragon Books has been providing the Lewisburg community with atypical books that you won’t find in your local Barnes and Noble.

The bookstore first opened at 111 Market Street in 2009. The original store was founded and operated for many years by retired Bucknell economics professor Charles Thackeray. His decision to name the store Mondragon Books was inspired by the Mondragon Corporation in the Basque Country of Spain.

Sienna Williams / Bucknellian

Sarajane Snyder joined the store in late 2016 and now runs it herself. The move from 111 Market Street to 430 Market Street was almost two years ago, in October 2020. Now that it’s in the heart of downtown Lewisburg life, they’ve been able to accumulate more clients, according to Snyder.

This bookstore is a shared space with the Open Door Gallery, unlike many other bookstores. A column covered with real bark and additional branches and leaves sits at the centre of the store and serves as various dividers between galleries and books. Multiple shelves are filled with old and new books by genre and topic. In addition to the many colors of books, there are colorful rugs and sofas.

Their mission statement hanging in the store explains that their inventory is focused on literary fiction, poetry, social studies, art, family and political economy, health, DIY skills, nature and “other books that build knowledge and power for the people.” superior. ” Their book annex, located on the second floor of Roller Mills Antiques, sells books on history, war, baseball, mystery, and more.

Snyder shared her many intentions for this “feel” the bookstore would exude, as well as other information about the bookstore itself. She said her goal was to create a different vibe that would allow people to experience an old-fashioned feel as they walk through the store, which she feels people sometimes need.

When it comes to the topic of book accessories, she said that separation also helps to enhance the store’s aura. She said there were “different representations” of authors, styles and themes across all the shelves.

All the books in the bookstore are well connected and flow – topics such as the history of war would interrupt this. Pointing to the religion section, she said she sorts it not by author but by idea. The bottom shelf holds the Bible and related books, the top shelf holds questions about Jesus as a character, and even further afield is a section on Judaism.

Sienna Williams / Bucknellian

Most of the books in the store are not recent publications, and books that are popular on social media like TikTok’s “BookTok” are often not found on bookshelves. Discussing the issue with Snyder, she said she was “not anti-bestseller, but anti-mainstream.” The feel of the store and book display is something that many popular Gen Z books don’t have. The difference was observable and interesting, she said. It will be interesting to see the evolution of this book as the older generation is phased out.

Until last year, the store was full of used books acquired through donations, but they now select and order certain new books. Snyder said many of the new books she ordered center on nature and trees. She went on to say that many of the store’s customers don’t like shopping online, or want to avoid it entirely. For those, she can choose to specially order books for them in the store.

Asking Snyder about the store’s name and the idea of ​​the Mondragon Co-op, she said that while she is the sole operator of the store and it’s not legally a co-op, it has a “cooperative attitude.” The store operates on donations of used books, and loyal customers are there to help if she needs help with anything. Labeled as a “community-supported” bookstore, the bookstore upholds the values ​​of partnership.

She talks about why people come into stores. Said that while it may be common for people to go to other stores to “find something”, they may come to Mondragon and “find something”. She said how fascinated she was and was always curious about what compelled people to read certain books, which she was able to observe in different types of people. Whether it’s the title, cover art, or author, there’s always something to discover.

This is what Bucknell students can experience when they travel downtown. Go in not looking for anything in particular, but maybe find a book they never knew they needed. The bookstore is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm.

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