Hardesty making books more accessible to community through Displaced Pages

Virginia Hardesty’s love for reading began at an early age.

“I was homeschooled, so I didn’t get a lot of social interaction with other kids. Reading kinda let me socialize with someone,” Hardesty said.

She said that she lost interest in reading for awhile because life was just hectic and busy, but the pandemic caused life to slow down some, so she picked up with reading again to pass the time.

In the summer of 2023, she decided to share her love of reading with others in the community by starting the Owensboro Silent Book Club. The club usually meets twice a week at a local business. While attending, readers bring their own selections and choose what they will be reading. Hardesty called the club a “nontraditional book club.”

“We’ve had as many as 30 people show up sometimes or as little as 10. But, just as long as people are there reading, I’m happy to keep organizing the meet-ups,” Hardesty said. “Last month, we met at Gramps Coffee shop after hours. This month we picked the Brew Bridge.”

After organizing the Silent Book Club, Hardesty said she just felt like the next step for her would be to start selling books to the community.

“I realized that Owensboro doesn’t have its own independently owned bookstore. We have Second and Charles, but I thought we needed a more personal touch,” she explained. “I didn’t want people to have to turn to Amazon to order something. I wanted to give people a local option to support a small business and the community.”

This led to Hardesty deciding to open Displaced Pages, a vendor booth specializing in book sales at T&T Vendor’s Mall in Owensboro. And, while the booth isn’t exactly a store, it is providing the first step in Hardesty’s mission to get Owensboro residents to read more.

“I’m starting small with the booth, and, if this is successful, I’m looking into other avenues to get books out to readers,” Hardesty said.

One of those other considerations is having sorta of a “book mobile” that would have pop-ups sales and also set up at events and festivals.

“Yeah, a store-front might be nice,” Hardesty said, “But I really want to see how doing pop-up sales would do here.”

Hardesty said that she’s stocking her shelves at Displaced Pages mostly from recommendations from “Book Talk” suggestions on the popular social media app, TikTok. Many influencers create short videos and upload them to TikTok to discuss various books and recommendations.

“People might not always be a fan of TikTok, but these videos are almost like Yelp! but for books. Reviews are always helpful, so they’re just changing the way we receive those reviews,” she said.

Hardesty said that she enjoys fantasy fiction and biographies when it comes to reading because, she said, “Even if you don’t like the person, their lives are still so interesting and different.”

Another positive of Displace Pages is that Hardesty is able to form positive relationships with her customers and allow them to order specific titles through her instead of a corporation like Amazon.

“I love that I can get to know the people that shop with me and know what they want and like to read,” she said. “That way, I might see a title they’d be interested in and I can stock that specifically for them.”

Hardesty also mentioned at she can order specific titles if a customer requests. She said the best place to reach out to her about a special order is through the Displaced Pages Facebook page.

As Displaced Pages currently stands as a booth in T&T Vendors Mall, it’s considered a self-function business, meaning that Hardesty herself does have to personally man the booth. Customers can make a selection and pay the mall’s staff.

“I was here for a couple of hours when we opened and I may be present for large launch days and for customers to pick-up specially ordered materials,” Hardesty said.

T&T Vendors Mall is located at 601 Commerce Drive in the space that formerly belonged to Rural King, next to Kroger. The mall is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Displaced Pages is booth number 161.