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The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

Assayer of Student Opinion.

The Prospector

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Beyond Bestsellers: A treasure of rare books

Jose G. Saldana
Literarity book shop is located in 5411 N Mesa St, El Paso, TX 79912.

One of El Paso’s most unique book shops is closer to UTEP than students may think. Literarity Book Shop is home to a collection of classic, rare books and a space for local El Paso writers to share their work.

Literarity Book Shop is in Pepper Tree Square, 5411 N Mesa St. opened its doors in July 2017 after owners Bill and Mary Anna Clark thought there was a lack of independent and local bookstores in the area. Bill Clark referred to him and his wife as life-long readers which sparked his interest to start collecting books in the mid 1980s.

“We just saw a void and the need, and it was basically our way of doing something we enjoyed, and at the same time trying to make a difference in the community and add to the quality of life in El Paso,” Bill Clark said.  

The bookshop has an immense selection of books for all types of book lovers. The collectible books are new, used and available for everyone. Bill Clark says a book’s level of rarity is a complex characteristic and several factors determine if a book can be classified as a collectible.

“Rare books are a more complicated thing,” Bill Clark said. “Signatures can sometimes make books collectibles, but not always. Scarcity and rarity also affect it.” 

UTEP mathematics major, Jessica Cazares, considers herself to be a massive reader and visits bookstores everywhere she goes. She says Literarity Book Shop brings a new touch to the community and is fond of the books they have.

“I’ve gone to the store and gotten books for myself and as gifts for others. They have a very exclusive selection that you don’t really see in most stores here. I found some special editions of my favorite books there,” Cazares said.

The bookstore collaborated with El Paso Matters, an independent news source, to host their bi-monthly book club and the proceeds sold go back to El Paso Matters.  

“One thing that makes us unique from others is that we always try to use the shop as a platform to doing good in the community,” Bill Clark said. “There’s just a lot of things we’ve done to try and give back to the community.”

Literarity Book Shop prides itself on how it showcases books from El Paso authors, many of whom are part of UTEP’s Creative Writing Program.

“A lot of authors are emerging voices. I mean, number one; it is important to know we have talented creative people in this community, and number two; for a lot of writers, especially new writers, people wouldn’t be aware of their work if we didn’t showcase it,” Bill Clark said.

Cazares says Literarity Book Shop has created a space where local talent has support and representation in the community.

“El Paso has a lot of talent that goes unnoticed and not appreciated. I think the book shop provides a lot of exposure for El Pasoans to share their work and discover new books,” Cazares said. 

The bookstore previously hosted engaging community events where local authors would do singings, read their books, meet and converse with fans, but the COVID-19 pandemic limited the frequency of these meetings. Despite that, many authors continue to stop by the shop and sign copies of their books. 

Literarity Book Shop is a precious treasure that is full of life and culture expressed though books. The bookstore is the perfect home for El Paso authors as it houses a supportive environment that prioritizes and supports home-grown talent.

Melissa Herrera is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Melissa Herrera
Melissa Herrera, Contributor/Writer
Melissa Herrera is a senior here at UTEP, majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in marketing. Melissa is a contributor for The Prospector. She plans to pursue a career as a news reporter after she graduates.
Jose G. Saldana
Jose G. Saldana, Contributor/Photographer
Jose G. Saldana is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in digital media production. Jose was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Jose is a contributor at The Prospector and in the future he wants to dedicate to sports photography and videography around the world.
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