When it comes to personal growth, self-development and inspiration, the first thing that I think of is reading. Reading books, magazines, newspapers or anything else -- on topics ranging anywhere from spiritual enrichment to computer software to health and fitness -- can help individuals learn, grow and succeed. How do I know this? Well, in addition to research on reading and its impact on learning patterns, I developed my own inspiration thanks to one book: How to Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler, an out-of-print book first published in 1940.

I have been a voracious reader all my life and, in 1990, I heard of How to Read a Book. With all of the reading I had done, I didn't think I needed to know anything more about reading. However, intrigued by the title, I bought and read the book. Then, I read it again and again and several more times. Adler's book taught me to read to learn and seek information rather than simply to be entertained. How to Read a Book changed what I read, how I read and why I read. The ability to learn from and get the most out of the books I read inspired me to dig deeper into literature.

I decided I would assemble my own personal collection of the 1,200 greatest works in the Western tradition. My list was assembled from knowledgeable readers -- like Mortimer Adler and Clifton Fadiman -- and public, college and university libraries. In assembling the books, I focused on used books because many on my list were out-of-print, and the used copies were less expensive.

Through my search I became acquainted with Minneapolis-St. Paul area book dealers and librarians who directed me to the translations and editions of the books I should seek. I also began faxing my list of books to dealers around the country. When the Internet became commercial, I had the opportunity to browse through book dealers' static Web sites in an effort to complete my collection. Occasionally, I would find a book I wanted, so I would call, fax or email the dealer. However, in most cases, the book had been sold a month or two ago; their sites were horribly out-of-date.

Eventually, the frustration I suffered in building my book collection led me to discussing ways to make the entire book selling process much more automated -- even far beyond the matching services that were beginning to crop up. The result: 21 North Main, Inc.

21 North Main has grown from my desire to have one place to buy books from a multitude of dealers into the largest and most efficient source for used, rare, out-of-print and antiquarian books. 21northmain.com includes the inventories of more than 2,800 used-book dealers nationwide, enabling you to find needed books and information. Path of Least Resistance, Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will, You Just Don't Understand and How to Read a Book are just a handful of the personal growth classics that can be found in 21 North Main's 11 million titles.

Unlike other used-book Internet sites, 21 North Main has a zero-inventory approach. When institutional or recreational buyers find and purchase books on 21northmain.com, orders are forwarded to dealers who then ship directly to buyers. This approach is highly efficient and cost-effective for both buyer and seller because a single point of inventory access and exchange is facilitated. In the event of a problem or unfilled order, 21 North Main has customer service specialists who will answer questions and post "want lists" in our database; the last thing we want is for reading desires to go unsatisfied.

Without How to Read a Book, the lesson it taught me about reading and the passion it inspired in me, the great service and business idea of 21 North Main wouldn't have been.

If my story does not inspire or intrigue, the facts about learning patterns should encourage all of us to read. According to Ladders to Learning, which promotes and distributes educational reading activity kits, "Children at the age of 2 to 3 who have been read to several times a day, did substantially better in kindergarten at the age of 4 and 5 than youngsters whose parents read to them a few times a week or less often."

I believe that everyone knows reading is good for children and students, but the importance of reading does not end in high school or college. We, as adults, must continue to read, learn and grow.

"The pace of change in our civic, work and family lives requires every American to continue their learning long after they leave school or college," said the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL), a collaborative effort between the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and World Education.

Diversity in our culture, business world and technology requires us to learn more and more about situations and topics we are unfamiliar with. The best way to learn about and understand these situations and topics is to read all of the information we can find. When we do this, we will grow and develop as individuals and a society; who knows, reading may inspire a new business, idea or understanding.

Author's Bio: 

Ken Dzugan is the Founder and Chairman of 21 North Main, Inc. In addition to 21 North Main, Ken's career experience includes general management of the planning and development of the St. Paul Energy Park in connection with the City of St. Paul, Minn., and the St. Paul Port Authority; financial management of Spartan Properties, Inc., a small real estate development firm; and operation of an independent strategic and financial planning consulting firm. He holds an MBA in finance and general management from the University of Minnesota, a bachelor's degree in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has pursued doctoral studies in physics and mathematics at the University of Minnesota.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., 21 North Main provides the largest online inventory of used, rare, collector, out-of-print and antiquarian books and has developed a comprehensive, end-to-end e-commerce solution designed to meet the specific needs of institutional and recreational book buyers. 21northmain.com now includes the inventories of more than 2,800 used-book dealers nationwide, for a total online inventory of more than 11 million titles.

For more information, visit http://www.21northmain.com/
877-21North (877-216-6784)
21 North Main, Inc.
1230 Eagan Industrial Road
Suite 115
Eagan, Minnesota 55121
TEL: 651-681-9999
FAX: 651-452-1171