Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 24, Number 2, Fall 2012 Page: 33
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New Mexico territories of 1899 could still
set the standard for wide-open and extremely
lonely spaces. Customers from these areas would
certainly welcome the presence of a book
store in a city to which many had reason to
travel. As a market center for every conceivable
agricultural supply and service, and as the host of
the Texas State Fair, Dallas drew in visitors from
the hinterlands on a regular basis.13 For those
disinclined to travel, the new store offered a mail
order service.14 Additionally the store could offer
its patrons far more selection, better prices, and
more convenience than the church's colporteurs
could fit into their saddlebags.
Second, by its very nature, a public book
store needed to cater to the tastes of the public.
This change involved a shift in strategy because
the inventory, within the limits of good taste and
church policy, had to appeal to broader reading
interests. The risk here involved widening the
scope from denominationally based materials to
an inventory that consisted of "books of travel,
biography, historical works, sermonic literature,
polemics, theology, and philosophical writing."15 A
description of an exhibit created by the Methodist
Book Store at the State Fair in the fall of 1899 gives
some sense of the store's stock in the first year of
operations. Beyond an eye-catching display Bible,
which formed the store's centerpiece, there were
"long shelves full of standard books, handsomely
bound and finely illustrated. The assortment
contains works of fiction as well as a full line of
miscellaneous and religious books and embraces
everything one could wish for in the way of
choice reading."16 Whether all of these works
were published exclusively by the Methodist
Publishing House has yet to be determined, but
it seems likely that works from other publishers
must have been represented.
Finally, the most significant risk represented
by the new Dallas store was that of market
competition. It would not be sufficient for it to
stock only offerings that appealed to a broader
audience-the store also had to earn their custom
and keep it in the face of rival enterprises. It is
one thing to assert, as the Methodist Book Store
did, that they carried "the largest line of books in
the state."" It also had to garner attention, earn
respect, and excel at serving its customers.And this
is where a triumphalist, world-changing vision for
the future would have come in most handy. How
else could one account for the short, but effusive,
Do You Read?
If vyo do you doild co n in and
at wdte for our kI of
At Half Price
We Have All the Late Books
H you don't red p rhaps
YOU DO WRITE
Lyou wrie right g the right
WE HAVE IT
The f... 8.te ust nw.=k wa.
T7e Mn From Glengarry
.>6 ELM STREET
The Methodist Publishing House, originally called Barbee
& Smith, opened in 1899 at 296 Elm Street and garnered
more than $60,000 in its first year.
piece that appeared in The Dallas Morning News in
the fall of 1900, describing a special store exhibit:
The beams from a hundred incandescent
lamps sift themselves through the foliage
of the luxuriant palms, ferns, and mosses
which decorate the shelves, showcases, and
fixtures. Portraits of authors adorn the walls,
with now and then some aptly chosen
quotation on literary culture. Here will be
found all that the literary aesthete could
wish. The latest achievements in literature,
the newest departures in bookbinding, the
standard works in fancy editions, the most
popular volumes in beautiful editions deluxe,
the elegant leather bindings, the handsome
decorations and illustrations--all are
presented in one gorgeous panorama.8
Of course it took several months before the
new Dallas store began to garner press attention
Fall 2012 LEGACIES 33
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 24, Number 2, Fall 2012, periodical, Autumn 2012; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth308998/m1/35/: accessed July 27, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.