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Iowa State Daily

Dog-Eared Books: cultivating community through literature and activism

Dog-Eared+Books%3A+cultivating+community+through+literature+and+activism

Amanda Lepper has always had a passion for seeking out new experiences worldwide. With a love for books, Lepper said she wanted to create these experiences for others by opening up her bookstore, Dog-Eared Books.

Dog-Eared Books prioritizes literacy and advocating for their communities. Owners Lepper and Ellyn Grimm donate to charitable organizations, schools and fundraisers to promote the importance of education and reading, along with addressing the importance of getting involved in politics and local government issues.

While originally from Ames, Lepper traveled around the country to visit a variety of bookstores. After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, she spent a few years as a newspaper journalist before becoming a stay-at-home mom of four girls. 

In 2019, Lepper talked with co-owner Grimm about the possibility of opening a bookstore before the pair spent a year conducting research. They sought to connect their love of books through community activism. They gathered the support of their community and on March 8, 2021, Dog-Eared Books was officially open for business. “I knew I would regret not opening a bookstore,” Lepper said. “I craved a meaningful experience for our community.” 

Dog-Eared Books encourages young readers by supporting local schools in filling out book orders, contributing to book fairs, hosting author events and advocating for public education. Along with supporting local authors, Lepper and Grimm look for self-promoting, professionally published and edited authors. Dog-Eared Books has a local book section where publishers in the community can reach out to be featured. The bookstore also hosts programs in the store for writers to meet every month and mentor young writers. 

Dog-Eared Books advocates for marginalized communities by encouraging the community to write letters to Iowa’s legislators, having voter registration to engage people in civic responsibilities and promoting free public events to encourage community participation.

In addition to over 10,000 distinctive book titles and 10 book clubs, the store offers gift items, puzzles and games. Dog-Eared Books also features a bakery that offers pastries, coffee and a study area for students and customers. The bookstore works with local businesses, artists and makers within Ames to help promote one another. Along with book clubs, Dog-Eared Books offers writing workshops, author events, art installations, trivia nights and puzzle competitions.

“This place always makes me feel comfortable and happy, I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not, I’m just there enjoying myself,” Alexa Jensen, a sophomore in psychology, said.

Gabriella Paster, a freshman in psychology, shared her appreciation for the store’s inviting environment. “I love how everyone is welcome, it’s a safe place for everyone. Even if you are not a huge reader, this bookstore is still a comfortable and welcoming place for the community.”

Lepper wants her bookstore to become a destination people seek when coming to Ames. 

“Dog-Eared Books is a place where everyone belongs,” Lepper said. “I want it to be a place where you can be a beacon of light, a strong voice, a place where everyone can belong.”

The store is located at 203 Main St. in Ames. Additional information about products and events can be found on the store website.

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    David Jackson | Apr 2, 2024 at 6:30 pm

    Anyone neurotic enough to still be wearing a mask in 2024 is the perfect example of the last type of person that should be involved in politics or government issues, at any level.

    I’d hope this was an April Fools joke, but the buzzword and slogan laden self-promotion indicates otherwise.

    Reply