If you’re looking for a unique Camarillo treasure, the Bookworm is a great place to start. Founded in 1973, the Bookworm is home to brand new books ranging from children’s books to classic novels and everything in between. It is owned by Connie Halpern, who joined the team in 2009, alongside Mary Littell who claimed ownership in 1988.
Upon walking into the small, quaint bookstore, you immediately see how well the business is doing. They have many of the newest paperbacks on display as well as an extensive children’s section. “If you ask us our favorite section of the store, it’s children’s books,” says Connie, enthused by her array of award-winning children’s stories. “We are very big on children’s literature and starting the love of learning and reading early.” This is evident by the table that displays many new bestselling picture and story books. One book, entitled This Is Not My Hat, written by Jon Klassen was read aloud to us in an energetic and charismatic story time session with Connie. This book is so cute and is the latest Caldecott Medal winner and is available to purchase in the store.
In the back of the store, there is a porch that Connie had built, where she holds her weekly Thursday story time. “She’s from Ohio, and so many houses have porches in Ohio and so that’s why she had the porch built,” Mary says of the cute setup in the back.
The Bookworm is supported by the community and has many regulars that come in “every day,” says Connie. There is a great sense of pride in their business. It is more than a bookstore, it’s a connection and a memory. When asked what sets their store apart from competing book business like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Connie replies with “customer service.” This is apparent seeing their dedication to their customers. “We actually beat Amazon on a lot of the student books. We offer a ten percent discount.” The regulars who visit daily even come to chat, receive counsel and catch up with both Connie and Mary. “We’re bartender bookstore ladies,” Connie laughs.
The Bookworm holds weekly events as well, as advertised on their front windows. HarperCollins is setting up a nation-wide book tour for Buddhist Bootcamp written by Timber Hawkeye, who chose to visit fifty independent bookstores across the US, naming the Bookworm as one of them. “Isn’t that great? Out of all the independent stores, they’re going to use this one,” says Mary of the great achievement. The signing is scheduled for March 2nd.
They are also involved in the city-wide book reading entitled One City One Book and this year, Camarillo is reading Farm City by Novella Carpenter.
You can see the love and commitment dedicated to the warm, fun store. “The smartest thing I did was have her take over,” says Mary of passing on the ownership to Connie. It’s evident how much these women love the store. In Mary’s words, “It is fun in here. People enjoy it.”
I could spend hours in there, looking through all the bestsellers and classic works. I purchased A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway with my ten percent student discount and I am eager to read it! You’re getting more than a product at the Bookworm, you are getting an experience. Visit their website here and stop by if you’re in the area.
The porch in the back of the store got me thinking about a great setting for a story: a porch as a place of tranquility for reading. The short story this place inspired can be read here!