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Charles E. Roberts '76 buys millions of new and used books each year

Every former English major likes to keep a small library on hand – usually on crowded bookshelves and an ever-present stack by the bedside. But how many can say they own more than 6 million books?

Charles E. Roberts ’76’s collection is so huge that a forklift would be needed to move it. As president of Wonder Book, a company that buys and sells millions of new and used books each year, Roberts’ life is all about books.

“I was a book nut as a kid. It all started in elementary school when I began buying from the Scholastic Book Club,” he recalls.

He says Connecticut College fueled his love of books. “For me a liberal arts education worked very well because I know a little bit about a lot of things.”

In 1980, when Wonder Book started in a small retail store, Roberts had one employee: himself.

He now has three retail locations and 54,000 square feet of books in his warehouse in Frederick, Md. He has sold books on the Internet since 1997, and sometimes, he even moves books by the foot, selling them to recreate libraries on movie sets or a Broadway stage. Large orders have also been shipped overseas for literacy efforts. At other times he fills orders for rare collectibles.

So what is Roberts’ prediction for the future of books?

They’re going to be around for a very long time.

-Lisa Brownell

November 10, 2009