Books are magical.
They can transport you to different worlds and different times. You can become a hero, a villain or even a fantastical creature just by cracking open the cover and reading a few pages.
You can go on an adventure, fall in love, be scared or solve a mystery all from picking up a book.
No one knows this better than Jenna Martinez. The 32-year-old Brownstown resident has been an avid reader since she was a young girl.
“It’s an escape from your everyday reality,” she said.
As an adult, she has continued to put reading and books at the forefront of all she does.
In 2013, she started a local book club, The Boozy Bookworms, with some friends and co-workers. They continue to meet monthly to discuss books and attend author signing events and book fairs together.
Around five years ago, she began a book blog with an author friend to review and promote indie authors.
Although she will read anything, her favorites are fantasy and paranormal romance.
Now, Martinez is taking the next step to share the magic of reading by starting her own business in downtown Seymour.
Located at 113 W. Second St. in the former Quirky Living Gift Shop, The Magic of Books Bookstore is set for its grand opening from noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 1.
During that time, there will be local authors, including Jeremy Perry, Candy Crum and Carol Spivey, signing their books, along with prizes, games and giveaways.
“Because of my blog, I have a good connection with a lot of authors, and I want to do what I can to promote them,” she said. “Also, I love planning events.”
The Magic of Books, which shares its name with Martinez’s blog, carries thousands of used books in all genres, from psychological thrillers, science fiction, romance and true crime to fantasy, westerns, biographies and nonfiction. There’s also an area for young adult and children’s books.
Most books will be half off the cover price or less.
She also will have some new books in stock, especially those by local and indie authors. She is looking into doing special ordering and mystery box giveaways that include books and swag.
Besides books, Martinez plans to stock what she affectionately calls “nerdy bookish memorabilia,” including T-shirts, bookmarks, rubber bracelets, pens and buttons.
“I have always wanted a bookstore,” Martinez said. “As a kid, that was like my dream job to be able to get paid to read.”
But owning a bookstore didn’t seem practical because she didn’t think it would pay the bills.
“So it was just that, a dream,” she said.
Last September, Martinez quit her job at Samtec in Scottsburg to stay home full time with her two young children. It was during the winter and the COVID-19 quarantine she began to think more about the bookstore.
“A family member kind of planted the seed, but I really thought it was something I couldn’t do,” she said.
Her husband discouraged her from the idea at first, even though he is a big reader, too.
“He thinks there’s no money to be made in books since everything is electronic,” she said. “So he shot me down pretty quick.”
But that didn’t deter Martinez, who did some research and put together a plan that showed bookstores are still very successful and relevant in today’s environment.
Her cousin used to own That Book Place in Madison and was very successful, so she bombarded him with questions and sought his advice.
“I harassed him nonstop,” she said. “So he was a big help.”
It was from her cousin she learned about a place in Nashville, Tennessee, that sells used books wholesale so she could build up her inventory.
She also was able to purchase all of the leftover inventory and shelving from a used bookstore in Columbus that closed down.
“That’s how we came into so many books,” she said.
Once she got her husband on board by the end of May, she began scouting out locations.
“I was trying to get a building in Brownstown to be close to home,” she said.
She had looked at some storefronts in downtown Seymour, but they were out of her price range.
That’s when she learned of the vacant building next to Blush and Brush Beauty Bar. Martinez is friends with Ashley Hankins, owner of the salon.
“I just lucked out,” Martinez said. “Ashley tracked the owner down and got his number for me. I called him, and we set up a meeting date. He was super nice, and he hadn’t even been advertising that he was going to rent this place.”
But it worked out for both of them.
“All of the pieces fell into place super fast,” she said. “So it was meant to be.”
Although she knew Seymour and Jackson County needed a bookstore, she said she has been blown away by the amount of love and support she is seeing from the community.
She’s already getting donations of books from people, and she plans to reciprocate that support by having an area in her store promoting other local small businesses.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “People have reached out to help in so many ways.”
Martinez said the goal is to bring an abundance of literature to the community.
“My hope is we can grow an amazing group of individuals that can bond and build relationships over the magic we find in books,” she said.