Bookstore owner Ron Chamblin received a birthday surprise any literature lover would enjoy.
For his April 26 birthday, Jennifer O’Donnell, Chamblin's girlfriend and Downtown store manager, teamed up with creative writing teacher Liz Flaisig to put together an anthology of poems and short stories created by Douglas Anderson School of the Arts students.
All the profits from the $18 book will go to the school.
“Liz and I talked about doing it back in August,” O’Donnell said. “We thought it would be fun to publish the kids' writing.”
O’Donnell said the book was made to thank Chamblin for his generosity.
The 71-year-old Chamblin seemed genuinely surprised.
“It was like ‘surprise,'” Chamblin said. “All of a sudden it was in front of me and now its moving into something bigger.”
Chamblin will begin publishing works of any local writers who are interested and whenever he can.
O’Donnell said the project has been snowballing for quite some time.
“We would like to see Jacksonville become a literary hub,” she said. “New York is the one for the North; we could use one in the South.”
Chamblin said local writing talent is abundant, so publishing will keep him busy in addition to running his stores.
“It’s a lot of work, I’m working seven days a week now,” Chamblin said.
O’Donnell said the anthology is an example of Chamblin's giving back to the community. But they have other plans as well.
“The adult illiteracy rate here is high, so we will also be offering tutoring and creative writing teaching for those interested,” O’Donnell said.
Working with Tim Gilmore of Florida State College at Jacksonville and writer Coe Douglas, O’Donnell plans to form a collective of professors and writing students to help educate adults.
The stores — Chamblin Bookmine (4551 Roosevelt Blvd., Westside, 384-1685) and Chamblin's Uptown (215 N. Laura St., Downtown, 674-0868) — and warehouse (2050 Forest St., open by appointment, 355-9627) house millions of books, most of which are used or rare.