Dog Eared Books receives bookstore-of-the-month recognition


Dog Eared Books was named August Indie Bookstore of the Month by Belletrist, celebrity Emma Roberts and fellow book lover Karah Preiss’ book club.

Sierra Hoeger

Whether it be the neon sign illuminated above a snoozing dog or the lack of vacancy on the shelves, it’s evident that Dog Eared Books’ popularity is not fading anytime soon, especially after earning recognition that proves their success just five months after opening their doors. 

Dog Eared Books was named August Indie Bookstore of the Month by Belletrist, celebrity Emma Roberts and fellow book lover Karah Preiss’ book club. Belletrist highlights an independent bookstore each month, as well as a new novel-of-the-month that can be purchased there. 

“We got the message in late June or early July that we were going to be the August pick,” said Rachel Trainum, social media coordinator for Dog Eared Books. “We had a little bit of knowledge and maybe a couple weeks of knowing what the book was in advance, so that was pretty lucky.”

“Animal,” by Lisa Taddeo, is August’s book-of-the-month.

“It’s exciting to see how Bellatrist supports independent bookstores, it’s just a huge mission for them to highlight stores across the country,” said Amanda Lepper, Dog Eared co-owner. “It’s a really generous thing they do, they could direct sales their own way if they wanted. Instead, they’re pointing people towards bookstores and trying to keep that culture thriving.”

The indie bookstore has seen a steady line when it comes to sales, which is rare for a business in a college town during the summertime. An increase in free time, vaccination rates and outdoor events in the downtown area are believed to have contributed to the “uptick” in sales. 

“It is interesting, though, living in a college town, where so much of our population fluctuates,” said Ellyn Grimm, Dog Eared co-owner. “So I’m interested to see now that students are back, what will that look like.”

When thinking back to just six months ago, before flipping the “open” sign and installing shelves, Grimm and Lepper are in awe of how popular they’ve become-both in-person and online. 

As social media coordinator, Trainum sources, drafts and posts content to Dog Eared Books’ multiple platforms to engage with followers. Reels, TikToks and book recommendations have become their most popular posts. 

“I consume book recommendations that way, prior to being a bookstore owner, I was following influencers, bookstores across the country and that’s how I was finding my recommendations,” Lepper said. “So as a consumer, that’s how I engage. I wanted to have that same engagement, where we can make recommendations, reach people at home. Because social media is fun, so it was a great way to reach people and make recommendations outside of the store. That was a huge priority to us.”

Having the Belletrist acknowledgment helped put Dog Eared Books on a larger platform, increasing their following count and bringing more foot traffic to the physical storefront. 

“I just think, in terms of the Belletrist acknowledgment, it’s a gift they’re giving us,” Lepper said. “It calls attention across the country to all their many, many followers that we exist here and that they can choose to support us across the country or locally…And we definitely saw a bump with it in terms of our following. But it’s been really fun to share that. Some of the posts they’ve made have been really adorable so it’s been really fun to share that with people.”

The iconic neon sign that reads “Books Are Meant to be Loved,” has become a staple inside the store, adding to their distinctiveness on social media. First-timers and OG visitors to the store flock to the sign like pigeons to bread crumbs, wanting to take an aesthetic photo. 

And who can blame them? The sign embodies the store’s values-loving books and the people who read and write them. 

“It’s become iconic to the store and kind of what Ellyn and Amanda both represent to the store as well,” Trainum said. 

Dog Eared Books is excited for the upcoming school year, and they’re eager to welcome new faces into the store-masked or unmasked based on your preferences. Grimm, Lepper and Trainum appreciate the support they’ve received thus far, from social media followers to in-person shoppers. 

“We’re grateful, we’re kind of surprised,” Grimm said.  “When you build a business, you have this vision for it and what you hope people will respond to, but you don’t know. To have the response that we’ve had, which is beyond what we were even hoping for has been really cool and we’re just grateful.”