Jeff Rise, owner of Dave’s Drive-In Liquor, said he got a lot of strange looks after he started selling books at the store to raise money for Keene Memorial Library in April 2018.

“I think people thought I was crazy,” he said. “’What are you doing? Getting rid of beer and putting in books?’”

But over a year later, Dave’s Drive-In Liquor has raised over $10,000 in funds for Keene Memorial Library by selling the books, which would normally have been sold at the library’s annual book sale.

The month of July brought the total proceeds to over $10,000, bringing in over $700 for the month alone. But July wasn’t even the store’s busiest month, with months last summer bringing in over $1,000, Rise said.

“It’s been amazing. Better than we ever could have hoped,” he said. “The fact that it’s just continuing monthly to bring in that much money has been a shock.”

The store takes donations of 50 cents for paperbacks and $1 for hardcovers. Rise said the store sends a check of all proceeds raised at the end of the month, which the library uses for special programming and other materials.

The idea for selling the books came after Rise was moving them for the Friends of the Library from the library to storage units north of town, where they would be held until the annual book sale. He said he thought it would be interesting to sell the books year-round instead of a one-time situation.

“My original idea, I thought maybe they’d fit in well with a coffee shop or antique shop somewhere in downtown Fremont,” Rise said. “The right spot never came about, so I just decided to go for it myself.”

After moving the store’s inventory around, Rise set up a bookcase lining the south wall. The books are sorted by genre, including politics, history and classics.

Some of the store’s most popular authors include James Patterson, Stephen King and Nora Roberts, who leave the shelves almost as quickly as they enter, Rise said. He also said the most popular genres available are westerns and romance, which was something he didn’t expect.

“I had no idea that romance had so many different genres within itself. There’s history romance, Amish romance, paranormal romance,” Rise said. “That was kind of a surprise.”

Rise said he’s seen both regulars and new people coming in and enjoying the selection. As for the future, he said the space has accommodated the books well and doesn’t plan to take them away any time soon.

So far, the only concerns Rise said he’s had was that he thought he would end up taking away customers from the library’s sale.

“In April, the numbers were as good as ever at the annual sale, so we’ll probably just continue the way we’re doing it,” he said.

Rise said he’s still looking for people to donate to the store’s bookshelf, as he views reading as the foundation of learning.

“If you can read well, you can do so many other things well,” he said. “So it’s just important to have the books out there available for people.”

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