On the north side of the bridge that crosses the Ortega River in Jacksonville, Florida, a curved concrete wall hides 23,000 square feet of narrow corridors and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that make up the Chamblin Bookmine.
This treasure trove of printed material is mined by loyal customers Monday through Saturday. The Bookmine has also served as the flagship bookstore in the region over the last three decades.
Inside, a maze of narrow corridors allows patrons to mine for books in roughly organized sections marked by hand-written signs. From hard and softcover books— to audiobooks and maps—the large and eclectic collection is a treasure trove just waiting to be mined. Of the well over three million books in stock, about 98 percent are gently used.
Ron Chamblin opened the Bookmine in 1976 at another location with 15 boxes of smoke-damaged books as his first inventory. Expanding over the years, he moved to this current location in 1991. Since then, Chamblin has purchased a second building across the block and built a connector between the two locations.