By Abigail Haddock
The Owl Library and Bookstore is a book lover’s dream in Marathon. Created by Alexia and Joshua Mann, it has been Alexia’s dream since she was 3 years old.
“I cannot remember a time in my life that I did not have a book in my hand,” she said. “We always had books growing up.”
The shop opened on Feb. 2, but getting the building ready took a team effort with unexpected challenges along the way.
“Josh broke his arm right in the middle of building the walls, painting and putting all of this together,” said Alexia. She credited Blake Donahue, Kyle Wolfe, Janelle Lawrence, Alison Rodriguez Cruz and Niki and Wayne Kline for helping to bring the library and bookstore to life. The Manns’ children, Kira and Jinn, have also been helping get the store up and running.
“A great group stepped up to get this place off the ground,” Alexia said. “This could not have happened without them.”
The book store brings in new books in small batches of two to five copies at a time, providing an ever-changing inventory.
“We’re trying to have a really good variety,” said Alexia. “You have to have something that appeals to everybody.” The Owl’s current stock includes new books, good-condition used books, and first and limited edition books.
There’s also a “borrow one, bring one” section where gently used and new books can be traded. Alexia plans to rotate books in the section with new books constantly added to the mix.
A kid’s reading corner rounds out the main room in the shop with an entire section of kid-friendly reads, as well as information for kids to join Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a charity that gives books to children from birth to age 5.
The shop has a study area, perfect for students and readers looking for a quiet place to focus. Another room offers space for book clubs and events – Dungeons and Dragons, anyone? – and nearby is the rare book nook, a compilation of exceedingly uncommon original books and prints.
Alexia pointed out a “lost book” from 1681, a culturally important book so rare that preservation historians have worked on making reprints of the remaining books.
“There’s everything from Japanese woodblock prints to illuminated manuscript pages to cookbooks from the 1800s,” she said.
One section shares a variety of local books, too. “There is a huge literary history here,” said Alexia. “We’ve got pirates, whiskey, Jimmy Buffett, Fred the Tree, there’s so much Keys history.” In the future, the Manns hope to bring local authors in for readings and signing events.
The Manns look forward to using the Owl’s rooms as space for literary and group events including Reading Dogs, tabletop and family game nights and book clubs. Coffee and tea are available for purchase, and there are lockers for rent to leave game supplies, snacks and books for visits.
Visit the Owl Library and Book Store at 11400 Overseas Hwy., Suite 103.
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