Harper’s Books creates space for readers

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Mar 29, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Tucked in a corner of the Mill, Lebanon’s local bookstore offers more than just a selection of literature.

Owner Rob Kamer and his wife, Andrea, opened Harper’s Books last July in a second floor space at the Mill. Multiple book clubs meet once a month, and Kamer also puts on game nights for children and adults, giving people who love to read a place to enjoy the company of others.  

“We have all kinds of books for all genres. We have new and used. I can order in almost any type of books people need. If a customer is looking for an odd out-of-print book, I can usually – not always but usually – find what they’re looking for,” Kamer said.

Trade credit is also available for those who have books they no longer need. 

After working as a grocery store manager for 16 years and also as a university admissions representative, Kamer decided it was time to open a bookstore, something he’d originally planned to do after he retired. 

“When my wife and I would search for bookstores in Lebanon, Google would bring up a list, and all of those were closed. It’s something I feel like will be successful because Lebanon needs a bookstore, and it needs a place just for readers to come and hang out and talk about books,” Kamer said. “I want this to be more than just a place to buy books, but a place to come and talk about books or even just come and hang out for awhile. I want this just to be a nice welcoming place for people.”

Harper’s Books rapidly outgrew the upstairs space in the Mill and recently moved downstairs to the space previously occupied by Bloem Kind Boutique.

“The first time I walked into the Mill I fell in love with this building. I love this building. It’s got a lot of history behind it. I’m 90 percent convinced that it’s haunted, but I still love this place. I have a feeling the Mill is about to turn a corner and really come up. If people haven’t been out here, they need to,” Kamer said.

The new, bigger space provides not only more room for books, but also a reading room where special activities take place.

Four book clubs are available at Harper’s Books, though two – nonfiction and science fiction – are on standby until Kamer hears of more interest. The classic literature book club meets on the first Tuesday of the month, and the mystery book club meets on the second Tuesday of the month. 

“They’re really informal. People just show up and talk about the book. I usually put the book out on Facebook for what we’re reading that month, and when it comes time for the discussion, people just show up, and we have a really good discussion,” Kamer said. 

Stop by the store or check out the Harper’s Books Facebook page to find the current book in discussion. 

Game nights are also part of the activities offered at Harper’s Books. 

“We also do game nights here where we do either board games or tabletop gaming, some roleplaying gaming. I have kids’ groups that meet here every Monday night, mostly middle schoolers. We set up a table, and parents normally just hang out while kids play the games. On Thursday, we have the adult game night. We’re looking to have that be a steadier occurrence. We’ve had a lot of fun with it, and we’re just trying to get people out and let them know there’s something to do in Lebanon,” Kamer said. 

Kamer grew up in East Tennessee and moved to Lebanon with his wife in 2004. The name for the store comes from his daughter, Harper, who the Kamers named after Harper Lee, author of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The bird also appears in the store’s logo.

“I just want people to know that we’re here, and we’re in our nice pretty new space, and I’m here to help. I’ve read tons of books, and I’m good at recommending books to people,” Kamer said. 

The Mill is at 300 N. Maple St. in Lebanon. Harper’s Books is downstairs near the entrance and open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.


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