Skip to main content

Davis Journal

Growing books, and shaping minds – The Book Garden

Aug 17, 2023 09:41AM ● By Braden Nelsen
From antique and display pieces to new releases, there’s something for everyone at the Book Garden. Photo by Braden Nelsen

From antique and display pieces to new releases, there’s something for everyone at the Book Garden. Photo by Braden Nelsen

BOUNTIFUL—One of the best ways to get a finger on the pulse of a town is to visit their local bookstore. From these small, independently owned shops, the average visitor can get a glimpse at the life of the people local to that area, their interests, hobbies, and history. For Bountiful, that spot is The Book Garden.

A staple of the area since they opened their doors in 1985, The Book Garden has provided a haven for the literary-minded to find great books, at great prices. That’s not all they bring to the table, however, said LeAnn Jorgensen, owner and operator of the bookstore. She and her husband took over operations in 2001, when Mark and Gale Olsen retired, and handed them the reins.

“We’re both book lovers, so it was a good fit,” said Jorgensen, mentioning that, being friends with the original owners, they just kind of “tumbled into it.” For centuries, bookstores really made sense: where else would the public be able to buy books? In the age of the internet, and big box stores, however, the small bookstore is a rarer and rarer sight. So, how do they compete?

“We don’t” LeAnn laughed, saying that what she and other small bookstores do is completely different than the internet, or chain stores. That difference comes from the personal aspect of going to a brick-and-mortar store and buying a book in person. “It’s tangible,” said Jorgensen, “you can’t get that ‘bookstore smell’ online.”

And she’s right: walking into The Book Garden, patrons can get that whiff of paper and ink that only comes from physical books. Not only that, Jorgensen said, but if they look around, patrons have a few different opportunities to let the store speak to them. 

Looking at the shelves, people will often see color-coded paper bookmarks inserted into various titles. These mark recommendations from different members of the staff, for those looking for suggestions. There’s also a new installation right by the entrance to the store: a classic gum ball machine, but instead of gum, patrons will find recommendations, discounts, everything they need to get started on their reading journey. 

In the era of mass media, running a bookstore seems like it would be difficult enough, but Jorgensen said there’s a good mix of loyal customers who come back year after year, as well as new faces that seem to be part of a growing and renewed interest in reading. It was these customers who kept The Book Garden afloat during one of the most difficult times for any business: the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People were very aware of us,” said Jorgensen, getting teary-eyed in her recollection. She spoke of how they saw so many familiar and friendly faces coming out to support them, even though the store wasn’t available in the same way it had been. They were creative in their solutions, doing curbside sales, even dropping books in the trunks of customers who, according to Jorgensen, may or may not have needed new books, but wanted to support them, “Bountiful is awesome, is the bottom line,” she said.

While it’s impossible to tell what the future holds, Jorgensen is optimistic about what’s to come for The Book Garden. While they’re not moving their location anytime soon, she said, “we need a bigger space,” to handle all the incoming books that they purchase from patrons, saying they simply need a place to store them all, so as to keep the storefront neat and tidy.

Despite the setbacks, Jorgensen and her employees seem to have come out on top and are doing well in the face of streaming, movies, e-books, audiobooks and more. With two floors, and thousands of books, there’s a little something for everyone at The Book Garden, in Bountiful.