Pagination Bookshop: A Dream Realized For Co-Owner Jennifer Murvin

Jun 12, 2019

Just west of National on the south side of Walnut sits a quaint, multi-story house that’s been there since 1905.  After serving as a home to families over the decades, it now caters to book lovers as Pagination Bookshop

The business, which opened in April, is owned by Jennifer Murvin and her fiancée, Kory Cooper. 

The two love books--Murvin said she was surrounded by them growing up.  During a trip to see a favorite author in St. Louis last year, they visited several bookstores.

"And we came back, and I thought, 'you know, Springfield has a great literary community, and we have a lot of bookstores in town--a lot of used bookstores,' she said.  "But I kind of wanted something that was new--like, had new books--really carefully curated for maybe small presses or writers that you might not find at Barnes and Noble, local writers and an event space for people to come together, talk about books, hear writers talk about their work."

They started looking for houses in which to set up a bookstore.  An offer to purchase a house on Pickwick fell through, and after getting over their disappointment, Murvin happened to drive by 1150 E. Walnut and saw a for sale sign.  It turns out the house had been on the market for two years.

"The minute I walked in I just thought, 'this is perfect,'" she said.

Lots of scraping and painting, tearing down of wallpaper and much more work on the house later, the space is peaceful and looks like someone might still live there.  Murvin and Cooper removed one of seven bathrooms in the house to make more room for the children and young adult area and, in the process, exposed a brick wall.  In that room are two child-sized recliners—the first furniture pieces Murvin bought for her shop—as well as other comfortable reading areas.

Harry Potter Cupboard
Credit Michele Skalicky

Not far away, in a cupboard under the stairs, is another space for reading.  Cooper knew when he first opened the door and looked inside what it would be used for, according to Murvin.

"He looked directly at it, and he opened the door, and he said, 'this is our Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs,'" said Murvin.

The space curves after you walk in to reveal a cozy chair, with a Harry Potter blanket, for reading about the young wizard  (the store has the complete collection).  A Marauders Map hangs on the wall, and Hedwig the owl lives in a cage hanging in a corner.  It’s one of Murvin’s favorite spaces.

"I'm a very big Harry Potter person, so I put a lot of, sort of insider Harry Potter details into the room," she said.  "I love it in here.  When we would get stressed out before we opened the shop, sometimes I would just come in here and sit and, you know, think about the project for a little while."

The main room of the shop is lined with shelves full of various genres of books.  Classics are in the original 1905 built-in bookshelf, and Murvin said there’s a method to their placement.

"I've tried to pair, you know, interesting books like, for example, I put 'Beowulf' with John Gardner's expansion novel, 'Grendel,' which is Beowulf from Grendel's point of view.  I also kind of threw in 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' there with Jane Austen, you know, just trying to think about what readers might want," she said.  "I also paired 'The Heart of the Sea,' which is the nonfiction book about the whale ship, Essex, which actually inspired 'Moby Dick,' so I paired those together." 

Used gardening books found a home on a deep windowsill beneath a large picture window.  Murvin’s grandmother used to keep her gardening books in a window.

In the same room, there’s a couch and two arm chairs in front of a fireplace that encourage customers to stay for awhile. 

There are live plants throughout the shop, and tall windows let in lots of natural light.  The smell of freshly brewed coffee fills the air.

A nearby open doorway leads to the room devoted to used sci-fi/fantasy and mystery books--Cooper's favorites.

"We have a huge Agatha Christie collection," said Murvin.  "I also have a lot of Raymond Chandler books, more contemporary mysteries, of course, along with the old classics."

Pagination Co-Owner Jennifer Murvin

Murvin teaches literature and creative writing courses at Missouri State University and uses her knowledge of books to thoughtfully select the books she sells in her shop.  She seeks advice from friends for genres she’s not as familiar with, so all of the books are carefully curated.  And her 11-year-old son offers advice on what books to choose for young people. 

Not only does the store offer new and used books and literary-themed items for sale, it’s also the site of author visits and children’s storytime.

And the second floor of the house, with three bedrooms, 2 and a half baths, a living room and a kitchenette, is available to rent on Air Bnb.

Pagination Bookshop is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5.