In its 40th year, Full Circle Bookstore is thriving in the ever-changing book industry

Published Thursday, December 28, 2017
by Jacob Threadgill

Since Jim Tolbert founded Full Circle Bookstore in 1977, the book industry has been in some sort of turmoil or another, but 40 years later, Oklahoma City’s largest independent book dealer is thriving as its national competitors shrink.

Tolbert opened Full Circle as the result of what he termed a midlife crisis after years of helping reconstruct public companies in trouble, a background that would come in handy in the book industry.

When Tolbert opened Full Circle at the corner of 42nd Street and Western Avenue, next to VZD’s Restaurant & Bar, the B. Dalton Bookseller and Waldenbooks chains were driving business away from independents to indoor malls.

A fire at VZD’s forced Full Circle to move to the third floor of 50 Penn Place in 1980, and by the time Full Circle moved downstairs to its current location at the turn of the century, big-box retailers like Borders and Barnes & Noble were coming to town.

At its peak, Tolbert said two Borders locations and three Barnes & Nobles in the metro area took a third of his business. Borders has since shuttered its national operation and the three Barnes & Nobles remain.

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