Ed Jackson shows off his collection of books, now for sale in the basement of his home.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Ed Jackson shows off his collection of books, now for sale in the basement of his home. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
"Scenic Wonders of America..."

"Gone with the Wind"

Thankfully, Ed Jackson alphabetizes.

"I have about 4,000 books, nearly all of them hardcover," said the Chatfield bibliophile. "It's everything from the classics - including Alcott and George Eliot to Mark Twain and Wharton - to histories, wildlife, scenic, politics, music, the art of music, reference books, religion, lots of cookbooks, true crime stories, a good love story and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series."

Jackson, who has lived in Chatfield since 2002, has had a book in hand since he was a boy, and the books now line the walls of his basement. At 75, he's run out of places to put them.

"I was reading since before I can remember," he stated. "I don't ever remember not reading. I'm sure I started early. I had a different childhood because I was kind of crippled and in a body cast for a while, so reading was one thing I could do. I think I would've been a reader even if I hadn't been in that cast. I just love books and I always have."

Jackson said his favorite authors as a young child were Albert Peyson, who wrote the "Lassie" and "Laddie" series; Joseph W. Altschuler, who wrote "stories of pioneers and the early days of our country, about Indian wars, hunting and trapping; and Thornton W. Burgess, who wrote about "talking animals in the forest."

He said he read any kind of dog book and a lot of books about horses, including "Black Beauty" and "The Black Stallion," and all the Jack London books set in Alaska and the Yukon.

As he grew, Jackson picked up Zane Grey westerns, then Robert Benchley's humorous writings, then works by Tolstoy, Homer and more.

"In more recent years, I've read Vince Flynn, Tolkien, Jan Karon's 'Mitford' series. I don't like horror, romance or what's called 'bodice-rippers,'" Jackson added. "I like Janet Evanovich, Carl Hiaasen, I've read Clive Cussler, some fictional series on archaeology...."

He related that since he's such an avid reader, he's collected enough books to find the need to sell them in order to make room for new reads.

"I have so many books that I've collected over the years that I had to start selling them, so I put some on eBay to sell. At first, I started buying and re-selling books and I sold a lot of books," Jackson stated. "I decided that went pretty good, but selling on eBay is too expensive, so last spring, I started selling books out of my garage. I had a lot of business, so I decided to keep up through the winter and move it inside."

He's also sold some of his collection at Chatfield Crafts and Gifts and Country Roads Crafts and Gifts in Chatfield, and also at Old Ways, New Ideas in Harmony, naming his little shop there and at home "Famous Books," an extension of his eBay shop.

His current offerings include something for everyone age 10 and up, Jackson said. It includes condensed classics for children to Ann Rice's vampire stories, Dean Koontz's thrillers, a copy of the "Scenic Wonders of America," Mark Twain's unabridged "Huckleberry Finn," "Robin Hood," "The Last of the Mohicans," and a good share of the "James Bond" series.

He has a few vintage editions of "Gone with the Wind" that are printed in two columns on each page instead of left to right in a single line.

Jackson also has volumes on music, art and how to prepare a meal acceptable for a family in the 1960s - complete with desserts and beverages that will rival the neighbor lady's.

He likes hardcover books for their heft and longevity. "I don't deal in paperback books - and certainly not mass market books. I do have a few that I can't find in hardcover, but that's not very often."

Jackson has found he enjoys meeting people who come to his house to peruse his stacks. "I like that I get to talk with the people who come to look at the books," he said. "On eBay, I couldn't do that. Also, I can steer them toward the authors I think they might like or I can point them toward books they were looking for already. The World War II books fly off the shelves - people seem to like the history books. I like the 'Clan of the Cave Bear' books...I've read all those."

Jackson invites fellow bibliophiles to venture up the long hill or take Ripley Road to see what's on his shelves, all neatly alphabetized.

He's set a grand opening of his bookstore for noon to 6 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 29, Saturday, Nov. 30 and Sunday, Dec. 1. He then will be available Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. until Christmas, except Dec. 14.

Persons interested in seeing his collection in a private appointment may contact him at (507) 250-4826. His address is 13947 117th St. SE, Chatfield, at the top of the hill above Bernard Bus and the NAPA Auto Parts store, at Division St. and Ripley Road. Visitors are asked to enter through the garage.