By George Howe

Emily Gibson is the owner/operator of The Novel Spot, a new bookstore in Pecatonica.

    If you are looking for an alternative location other than home to curl up with a good book, look no farther than The Novel Spot bookstore in Pecatonica.

    Opened in April of this year, owner/operator Emily Gibson shared that she’d had the idea of opening some kind of retail shop floating around in the back of her head for sometime and decided to make it a reality. “I always thought that it would be cool to own a shop,” she said. “I had heard that the quilt shop was going to close at this location and decided to look into the possibility of continuing with the space.”

    So she went about posting an anonymous question on Pecatonica’s social media page to gauge the interest of a bookstore in town. “I feel that people are more honest when they don’t know you,” she continued. “I got about 300 responses, with about 80% showing a positive interest. I went about finding out the proper way to go about it and it just snowballed and here I am.”

    Having this business is certainly a passion for Gibson as she juggles working a full-time job as a medical biller and a part-time job as a tumbling and trampoline coach at J & J Tumbling, Trampoline, and Dance in Pecatonica, where she’s been going since age 4. She grew up in Byron and went to high school there, afterwards earning her associates degree at Rock Valley College, and spending one year at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. “I had felt a connection with Pecatonica after so many years at J&J and bought a house here, wanting to create some roots,” she said.

    Gibson has the space laid out so that it offers something for book lovers of all ages. Comfortable couches and chairs in one area, and a fun kids room where toddlers and their parents can get lost in a story together. You will find mostly fictional prose, with a little non-fiction memoir style thrown in. “I want the space to feel cozy, warm and welcoming – where you walk in and want to stay awhile and read a book,” she said. “In the kids room, there are books for babies all the way up to eighth-grade.”

    One mother-daughter team made a point of visiting the shop after the mother saw the posting on social media. “We were extremely interested and wanted to support a local business that we needed in this town,” said mom Melissa Larson. “My daughter is book obsessed and we visited weekly for the first month. We keep coming back to hang out because it’s such a nice place.”

    Thirteen-year-old daughter Cailyn agrees. “I was happy when we went in and I found one of my favorite authors, Shannon Messenger who wrote the Keeper of the Lost City series,” she said. “I like it here.”

    Gibson appreciates the support from the local business community, as word of mouth always helpful. “Some of my customers come in as a result of visiting other businesses, like Rosie’s Coffee Shop where the owners suggest that they stop by, which makes me grateful and excited.”

    Gibson is trying to help other area entrepreneurs by offering locally hand-made items like bookmarks. She also has other items such as tote bags and book stands available for purchase. Long-range goals include holding book signings from local authors like Megan Vernon and Victoria Ashley, who specializes in dark romance. Once things continue to prosper, she would like to expand. “I have an available room in the back that I’d like to make a game room/event space, possibly for a craft event,” she said. “It’s a little more private and I hope to get the chance to offer it soon.”

    The Novel Spot is located at 516 Main St. in Pecatonica. Their current summer hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 to 9 p.m., and Sunday noon to 7 p.m. See all their online links for social media and contact information at

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