Feb 24, 2008
Haslam’s Books, now Florida’s largest new & used book store, was established in St. Petersburg in 1933 by two avid readers, John and Mary Haslam. After World War II they were joined by the second generation, Charles and Elizabeth. The business began to expand. In response to customers’ requests, new technical books were added, then Bibles and religious books and finally a complete line of trade books and a large section for children. The business has moved four times to accommodate growth. Today the store covers 30,000 square feet and contains some 300,000 books.
To promote books and reading, Charles had a television program on WEDU, the local PBS station, called "The Wonderful World of Books," and reviewed books on WSUN radio. He also appeared as a regular guest on WTOG-TV. Elizabeth operated book fairs at local schools for 25 years and now conducts "field trips" of ‘Florida’s largest book store’ for elementary classes. Both have been active in the American Bookseller’s Association (Charles was president from 1978 - 1980). They have taught in Bookseller Schools and written chapters in "The Manual of Bookselling." Both are published authors.In 1973, the third generation came into the business: daughter Suzanne (who also authored a chapter in the "Manual on Bookselling") and husband Ray Hinst a history, classics & military expert. Ray and I talk here about book re-printers, early Baedekers, not collecting your own inventory, the explosion in self-publishing and authors who want bookstores to carry their works and provide signing events, collecting what you like, and the error of passing up on buying opportunities.