Dooney Tickner has spent his life around books.
He was a member of a book of the month club before he was a teenager. When he went to college, he majored in history and literature. For 12 years, he was director of the Destin Library.
He has taken his love of the written word and his collection of tens of thousands of books to open Dooney’s Book Company, a used bookstore in Cinco Bayou that specializes in hard- and soft-back books from nearly every genre.
“There are probably a little over 50,000 (books) here right now, and I have access to a whole lot more,” Tickner said. “I have books stored off-site, also.
“Basically, I deal in everything from juvenile books to nonfiction to fiction,” he added. “I have classics to current literature. The only thing I really don’t deal in are things like Harlequin romances, mainly because of space limitations.”
Tickner started the business with books from his collection, but now gets titles from estate sales, some yard sales, library sales and church sales. He also buys some books from customers, but only on a limited basis.
“I never rule it out, but I always reserve the right to look at it first before I buy it,” Tickner said. “In a business like this, you can get bottom up very quickly, especially if you buy too much and you give people more money because you feel like they need the money.”
Tickner, who was the director of the Destin Library from 1987 to 1999, opened Dooney’s Book Company in September 2009 in an old yellow house at 228 Troy St. N.E.
The prices range from 50 cents to $50, although the number of books priced in the $40 to $50 range is very limited, he said. Average prices for a book are $3 for one in fair condition up to $6 for one in great condition.
Tickner usually even has a selection of books that he gives away; ones that are damaged and he doesn’t feel comfortable selling, but are still readable.
“People particularly cling to books they read while they were children or the classics they want to give their children or their grandchildren,” he said.
He believes good customer service is one reason he has so much repeat business.
“I believe in personal service. I call people when something they like comes in. I have regular customers who bring me books. I know the specific authors they like,” Tickner said.
Although e-readers are becoming more and more popular, Tickner said he doesn’t believe they will ever completely replace printed books. He said e-readers are convenient for people who travel or live in a small space, but most people still like a real book at the beach or while taking a bath.
“Very quickly it’s emerged that the price of used books or books acquired at yard sales or thrift shops is certainly competitive with and usually less than the downloads of the new stuff on the e-reader,” he said.
Tickner has done some online selling through Amazon.com in the past, but on a very limited basis. His goal going forward is to improve the store’s presence online.
In the next two to three months, he hopes to have a Facebook page for his store that will offer discounts or special deals for people who “Like” his page online. He also wants to develop a dedicated website and eventually have an online store for his business.