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Read All About It

The founders of the Levenger catalog wrote the book on selling to serious readers.

To read, you need nothing but words. But to read seriously--that is another proposition. Serious reading involves equipment. Accessories. Ingenuity. Style. Serious readers need monogrammed velvet pillows to support their books. They need cherrywood lap desks to compose letters, gold-nibbed fountain pens to lend splash to their signatures, and note pads with night lights to capture late-night inspirations.

Until Lori Granger Leveen, 39, and Steve Leveen, 42, creators of the Delray Beach, Florida-based Levenger catalog, began purveying what they call "tools for serious readers," no one dreamed readers were such a vast--and acquisitive--market. In fact, no one outside the publishing industry dreamed readers were a market at all.

The Leveens don't scoff at this kind of ignorance. That's because they didn't recognize the market themselves until months into their venture. How did this husband-and-wife team parlay an $8,000 investment into a $60-million-plus mail order powerhouse with its own built-in market? Their road-to-riches story began with a bright idea.

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This article was originally published in the January 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Read All About It.

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