He left courtroom for the book trade

Boe Rushing: "This is the perfect spot to carry on the traditional bookstore."

By Boe Rushing

I am a lawyer by profession who hopes that he never has to see the inside of a courtroom again. For the past 11 years I have been pursuing full time my real passion, books. It all began when I moved to Canada to get married in 2001. Unable to practice law there without jumping through a thousand hoops, I tried to find a career where I could be self-employed doing something I actually enjoyed.

One afternoon as I discussed the rare book business with a gentleman who had purchased a shop several years earlier, a light went on in my head. That night I told my wife that I wanted to open an antiquarian bookstore. After her initial surprise she became my biggest champion in this new endeavor. After spending our first year in a bad location we ended up in a 150-year-old building two doors down from a coffee shop in a quaint area called Wortley Village. We did much better in this neighborhood, which was once called one of the coolest neighborhoods in Canada. It was filled with "book people." College professors, a former member of the band Simply Red, and even Room writer Emma Donohue frequented the store.

In 2004 my daughter was born, and this would eventually bring me back to Florida. In late 2005, I sold off most of my books, closed my first baby, Bowman Books, and we moved back south. The next several years were a combination of Mr. Mom and Internet bookselling but I really missed having an open shop. In August 2009 I won a scholarship to the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. The experiences I had and the people I met in Colorado intensified my desire to once again have an open shop.

While an open shop comes with its share of headaches and overhead, there is really nothing quite like it. So in January 2010, I opened Back in the Day Books in historic downtown Tarpon Springs. We initially opened on a side street but now we are entrenched on Tarpon Avenue, across from the Tarpon Springs Historical Society's welcome center in the old train depot.

This is a perfect spot to carry on the traditional bookstore. My building is nearly 100 years old and I am surrounded by antique shops and art galleries. Once again we are several doors down from a coffee shop. My brick and mortar store has an actual exposed brick wall and with the demise of Borders I now have upper shelving and a rolling ladder covering most of my east wall. I like to think that the store is a work in progress, always improving and changing. That really is how it works out since the longer you are open the better your stock becomes. I hope to survive this crazy economy and all of the changes in the book world so that I can be part of passing on a love of actual books to a new generation.

Boe Rushing is owner of Back in the Day Books in Tarpon Springs, Florida.


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