Standing in the horror section of a bookstore, it seems like a B-movie cliché to say, “I heard breathing, even though no one was in sight.”

And there wasn’t anyone nearby. The fellow shelving books a few aisles away wasn’t wheezing, and the only other patron I saw was clear on the other side of the basement, behind and through a sound-muffling maze of shelves.

I looked down the aisle and saw something that didn’t belong. “There it is,” I thought, taking a few steps and dropping to my haunches: The breather was just the bookstore cat, sleeping on “The Amityville Horror” and “Best Ghost Stories” and behind a stack of misplaced romance books.

That’s what you can expect at Hyde Brothers, Booksellers, the most well-known used bookstore in northeast Indiana. The website boasts that the bookstore is one of the largest in the state, but it’s probably more accurate to call it one of the largest in the Midwest, at least if you define “largest” by sheer number of books: Owner Sam Hyde has no idea how many books he has, but, he says, some people who claim to know that sort of thing have told him 195,000. Or 250,000. Or 225, 000.

“If you want to stop by on a Saturday,” he says, shrugging, “and stay a week …”

Counting would probably take longer.

Cat on bookshelf at Hyde Brother Booksellers in Fort Wayne, Indiana

The Best Bookstore in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Hyde Brothers Booksellers

August 9 is National Book Lovers Day, a day to celebrate readers and encourage them to cozy up in their favorite reading spot with a new book. If you want a new-to-you book to crack open to celebrate, Hyde Brothers has about a quarter million to choose from—in more categories than I thought possible, seeming to cover Earth’s known range of fiction and nonfiction.

The books are divided almost as a huge filing cabinet, with white dividers jutting out from between the stacks to announce a new category or subcategory. Here is a wholly incomplete list of possibilities: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Science General, Botany, Biology, Battle Tech, Buck Rogers, Conan, Doc Savage, Warhammer, Afro-American Romance, Movie Bios., Humor, Movies-Compilations, Movie Guides, Movies-Individual, Screenplays, Movies & TV Technique, Hunting, Firearms, Amphibians & Reptiles, Taxidermy & Tanning, Entomology, Natural & Alternative Medicine, Geography, Bible in Story-Symbol-Pictures, Whole Bible Commentaries, Bible Studies-Guides-Interpretations, Bible Handbooks, Youth Bibles, Bible-Oversized, Anxiety & Disorders/Panic & OCD, Schizophrenia, Depression & Bipolar Disorder, Parenting, Motherhood, Fatherhood, Autism, Learning Disabilities and Special Needs, Baby Names, Gender Studies, Gay Studies, Birds, Fish, Cats, Dogs, Snow Mobiles, Aviation, Navigation-Oversize, and Ship Wrecks & Pirates.

When I couldn’t find Neil Gaiman in general fiction or horror/fantasy/science fiction, I asked the quiet man shelving books.

“Probably horror, if we have any. We can’t keep him in,” he said. “He has some young adult, too.  You can check there. But probably not.”

If only there was another book to find …

Hyde Brothers Mural - The Fort Wayne Story
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Other Fort Wayne, Indiana Bookstores

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Inside the Allen County Public Library, you can find a million stories for less than the cost of lunch in their Twice Sold Tales book sale racks.

This post was originally published August 8, 2018 and has been updated.