Carbondale’s family owned bookstore Bookworm expected to close after 17 years


Corrin Hunt

Store closing signs cover the storefront Friday, April 13, 2018, during a closing sale at Bookworm in Carbondale. (Corrin Hunt | @CorrinIHunt)

By Clair Cowley, Staff Writer

The family owned bookstore Bookworm, which has been open in Carbondale for 17 years is expected to close as the owners plan to retire without finding a confident buyer.

“We really wanted to sell it because the idea of a university town without a good used bookstore is a tough concept for me to accept,” Bookworm owner Carl Rexford said.

According to the sign outside of the store, everything must be sold as the owners have entered the liquidation process of the business. The books are all on sale now and will be discounted throughout their remaining time.


Rexford said he put the business on the market last fall and has had several false alarms and a actual firm offer for the store – that fell through about a week ago.

“If someone would like to step up and keep it going, then we’ll be happy to talk to them,” Rexford said. “If they’re here, they can stop by and see what we have or if they’re out of town they can give us a call.”

Carl’s wife, Kelly Rexford said choosing to close the bookstore was a hard decision to make.

“We were hoping that somebody was going to buy the store,” Kelly said. “So now with the fact that it’s closing more than likely it’s kind of difficult to accept that.”

 Kelly said over 17 years she and Carl have made friends with their regular customers, always looking forward to hear what is new in their lives.

“We’re going to miss all of that,” Kelly said.

Long time customer of the Bookworm Frederica Nanni said every place should have a place like Bookworm.


“When you’re in college you need a place where you can relax and read for pleasure,” Nanni said.

Nanni brought 26 cases of books with her family when they came to Carbondale 15 years ago. Bookworm is a place she goes to find new books and relax.

“It feels good to come in here, there’s always something new. I’ve always loved used book stores, but this one is so friendly. We never leave here without two or three bags of books” Nanni said.

The bookstore cat, Casper has been a staple of the store since he was 6-weeks-old.

“He is really good with kids, we had people over the years come in and give him gifts and treats,” Kelly said.

Bookworm also served Carbondale residents with a place for local author book signings, partnerships with departments at SIU and worked with the Paul Simon Institute.

Carl and Kelly Rexford decided to close Bookworm to spend more time with their grandchildren.

“It’s gotten to the point where they’re getting old enough that we can’t go to their soccer game because of the bondage of the store,” Rexford said. “We’re looking forward to being able to do that kind of thing.”

After the Rexfords retire they will have more free time instead of being tied to the grind of retail hours, Rexford said.

“We just decided that this was a good time to go on and do something else,” Rexford said.

Rexford said the tentative plan is to keep Bookworm open through Saturday, May 19 and then close the store for three weeks while he and his wife are out of town. In early June the store will be open for one last sale before it’s closed.

Staff writer Clair Cowley can be reached at [email protected].

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