Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bookstore Carves out Niche among Readers; Mumford Library Books' Customer Service Is Award-Winning

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bookstore Carves out Niche among Readers; Mumford Library Books' Customer Service Is Award-Winning

Article excerpt

Byline: CHARLIE PATTON

From the outside it's a pretty ordinary-looking place, just another Jacksonville storefront in a suburban office park off Philips Highway.

But if you love books, a visit to Mumford Library Books is "like a trip to paradise," said Mercedes Clement, head librarian at Daytona State College and former president of the Florida Library Association.

Behind an entrance that could serve an insurance company or a law firm, Mumford's tables and shelves fill two large rooms containing about 65,000 to 70,000 books. Those stacks of books represent about 19,000 titles, a mix of children's books and adult nonfiction, which are available to school and public libraries in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

The man behind Mumford Books is Doug McNamara, a 70-year-old veteran of the book business, who used to work for Baker & Taylor, America's largest book wholesaler.

In 1977, a Baker & Taylor colleague, Jim Mumford, started Mumford Library Books in Plano, Texas. Four years later, McNamara, a native of Mississippi who wanted out of New York City, decided to join Mumford.

He and his wife, Sandy, had family in Jacksonville, so they relocated here with the idea that Mumford Library Books would expand its geographical reach.

Three years later he and Mumford decided to split the company. McNamara stayed in Jacksonville, Mumford stayed in Texas. Within a couple of years, the Texas branch of Mumford went out of business.

But McNamara gradually built a client base that now includes about 2,500 libraries in the Southeast.

His two key selling points, he said, are great customer service and the chance for the librarians to come to Mumford's offices and personally comb through the stacks.

The librarians are then given a chance to go home to review their choices, McNamara said. Before the books are shipped, they can make changes if desired.

"He and his staff just go out of their way to make you feel special," said Carolyn Williams, deputy director of the Jacksonville public library system. "For anybody who loves books, just the chance to browse his shelves and handle the books is special. …

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