The Kenyon Bookstore offers much more than books to the College community — although it offers books in abundance.
In addition to its textbook department, the store provides a large selection of fiction and nonfiction trade books on subjects from anthropology to zoology. If a book can't be found on the shelves, the store's staff will order it.
The Kenyon Bookstore is the nation's longest continuously-operating college bookstore, and the third-oldest bookstore of any kind in America. Planning for the store began in 1825, when Kenyon's founder and first president Philander Chase wrote, "school books cannot be had in our poor country 'bookstores.' ... Is every young man to send hither and thither for a book and perhaps be obliged after all to send to the East before he can be accommodated? Surely not. We must have a bookstore belonging to the Institution."
Today, the bookstore occupies a central location on the Kenyon campus. It sells clothing, gifts, food and drink, glassware, greeting cards, stationery and sundries. In her College Book, Lisa Birnbach calls it the best individual bookstore in America.
The bookstore also serves as a center of social life on campus. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, a reporter noted that the store functions as "a second living room. Here, customers can sit in armchairs, eat ice cream, and read all day long without ... once getting a cold stare from an employee."
Profits from bookstore operations benefit the College's general scholarship fund.