RIP - Death of a Used Bookstore

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RIP - Death of a Used Bookstore

Jun 7, 2013, 2:49 pm

Just in the last month two in my area - The Book Nook in Huntersville, NC and the Lincolnton Book Shop in Lincolnton, NC. :'( Arrrgh!

Jun 7, 2013, 8:09 pm

My condolences. My town (Yucaipa, CA) just recently lost The Book Exchange, where all my homeless paperbacks went (and where I adopted new ones). They were in business for ten years and I was a customer for eight. The store closing was so sudden I didn't even know about it until after they'd permanently shut their doors. They will be missed.

Jun 8, 2013, 9:35 pm

So sorry the hear that. My condolences.

I am still grieving for the closing of Cody's and Borders.

Jun 24, 2013, 4:17 pm

Southern California was home to Acres of Books in Long Beach (established 1935) and Book Baron in Anaheim. Now both are history.

Jun 24, 2013, 4:24 pm

The decline of used book stores seems to be parallel with the apparent decline in print books. The Los Angeles Unified School District just recently purchased 30,000 Ipads for use at 47 of their schools at a whopping $678 apiece!

Editado: Jun 24, 2013, 6:17 pm

It's depressing, but I stumbled across a fabulous little bookstore while toodling around the mountains this weekend. So, I made a locale page for it and hopefully other people will find it. Three floors of used books in an old building with antiques and gifts located in teeny, tiny Little Switzerland, NC, it's called Books and Beans. I found a couple of books that had been on my want list for a long time. Live long and prosper Books and Beans!

Jun 24, 2013, 7:01 pm

Best of luck to them!

Jun 24, 2013, 8:29 pm


It's graveyards by now...

What drives me especially batty is the businesses that have closed down the stores, but do sell online. So now, if they are local (four as of now), I can't browse the books and inspect them before buying, AND I have to pay shipping!

One time I asked someone if I could come by and just pick it up (the book cost 10 bucks, the shipping was 9), they obliged, so we met at the rolled iron shutter, I knocked the signal, he opened, glanced both ways down the street, gave me the package, gave him the money--totally suspicious looking transaction. He didn't like doing it because, obviously, what if he did that for every customer... Gah!

I like having the choice of online shopping, I hate being forced to it because there is no alternative.

Jun 24, 2013, 9:20 pm

The Book Baron was on the way home from work. That was dangerous! Miss them too.

Jun 25, 2013, 2:09 pm

It's sad, isn't it? Even Indigo, the Canadian bookseller giant (giant for Canada, anyway) is looking to diversify and boost revenue.

And in the meantime check out the French government's response to Amazon:

Black Bond Books is not a used bookstore, but I like their idea of the "1 Book Pledge". They've asked their customers to pledge just once during the year to go to one of their locations and buy a book, rather than buy online at a large chain:

With such a large community, I wonder if we could launch a similar initiative here on LT?

Jul 10, 2013, 7:59 pm

A particularly annoying side issue of bookstores going under is that, quite often, the retail space they had occupied does not acquire a new tenant. There are two such spaces here in Berkeley, formerly Cody's and Black Oak Books. It seems pretty stupid that their landlords forced them out by raising rents, so now the landlords have no income from the space!

Jul 10, 2013, 10:35 pm

#11. The same thing has happened here. One of my favorite used book stores was forced out by a new landlord jacking up the rent. The landlord then spent a lot of money renovating the plaza they were in and then the space sat vacant for well over three years.

Editado: Ago 5, 2013, 1:43 pm

#11 & 12> Tax write-offs, I suppose. I don't know how it works, but apparently there are times for people/companies that own a lot of properties that writing off the "loss" from an unoccupied retail space or two works out better than actually receiving below-market rents for that space. I don't like that system, especially when the owner does not live in the community being affected by the empty storefronts. We have several such situations of the downtown neighborhood in Ukiah, the small city/large town where I work in Mendocino County, California. On the other hand, for the purposes of this thread, the good news is that while we have lost one used bookstore recently, the town still has one that is quite healthy, with a robust, varied collection. I'm in a position to know because I am the owner of said store!

Ago 5, 2013, 10:51 pm

(6) varielle, Books and Beans (coffee?) is too far for me to drive to...5 hours. :(

Editado: Nov 21, 2013, 7:58 pm

Echoing the sentiments about booksellers switching to online sales only, I was disappointed when I visited Toledo again and found that the marvelous Frogtown Books no longer exists except in cyberspace. Bummer.

Nov 21, 2013, 8:14 pm

For a dozen years in the 1990s (1988-2000) I was the manager of a large antiquarian bookstore that specialized in old children's books.

When we first opened, there were two other stores nearby. One was negative about whether multiple bookstores in a neighborhood would help or hurt. The other was ambivalent.

In time there were up to a dozen used bookstores on a short span of Adams Avenue in San Diego, California, USA. We found that the clustering of stores drew people from around the area and those who visited the city.

Overall there were more than 100 members of the San Diego Booksellers Association in those years. Some were the usual paperback exchanges, library shops, new bookstores, and appointment-only/mail order sellers. However, the number of used bookstores was impressive. There were smaller clusters in downtown and an area called Hillcrest.

Of course, in the late 1990s several of the stores closed. Among used bookstores, buyers were shifting their attention to the used book databases and eBay. New bookstores were challenged by the chain stores and eventually Amazon during this period, of course.

The store that had been against the idea was bought out by an owner who was an enthusiastic supporter of bookstore clustering. Today they are the "last store standing" from what was known as "Adams Avenue Book Row."

When I visit cities and towns, I try to find bookstores to visit. It is challenging to do this, not only because stores are disappearing but because the data online is often stale, listing stores that have closed years ago. I would hope that LT could help with this IF they would distinguish between used and new stores on Local and the Readar app. The community here could help to keep things up to date. That hasn't happened so far. I'm still hopeful.


Nov 21, 2013, 9:03 pm

I'm sorry to hear about Adams Ave Book Row! I always loved going down there years ago. Another area that was great for used bookstores that has disappeared over the last few decades was Hollywood Blvd. Very few left in Orange County now.

Nov 22, 2013, 12:23 pm

Adams Avenue Books is still there at 3502 Adams Avenue, 92116 and worth a visit whenever you're here.

In Orange I mainly find the stores on North and South Tustin (Bookman, Altair-4, Nevada Book & Mineral, etc.).

I still like to visit stores like The Iliad in North Hollywood and Book Alley in Pasadena.


Nov 22, 2013, 12:38 pm

(16) James, if you click on the "Local" tab, you can search for bookstores through LT.

If I find out a bookstore has closed, I edit the store listing, to show it is defunct.

Hope that helps.

Nov 22, 2013, 1:27 pm

#19 by fuzzi>

Yes. Thank you very much. I've used that. The show-stopping flaw for me is that it does not distinguish between used bookstores and new bookstores. I don't wish to see college bookstores (new), Barnes & Noble (new), etc. when I am visiting a town. To be useful to me (and many others I suspect), there needs to be a way to filter between new and used stores.

It is NOT all the same to me.

If I want a new bookstore, I'll go to it, of course. Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Vroman's in Pasadena, and Barnes & Noble are favorite new stores where we shop and purchase many dozens, perhaps hundreds of books each year.


Nov 22, 2013, 3:12 pm

>20 Keeline: What do you call a store like Powell's in Portland which sells both new and used books?

Nov 22, 2013, 3:32 pm

>21 kdweber: A bookshop!

Nov 22, 2013, 4:03 pm

I visited two Powell's locations (downtown Portland and Beaverton) in June and bought a couple large bags of books from each of them. They have so many used bookstores that they are of interest and I have no problem with them being listed as used bookstores.

The greater Phoenix, Arizona area, which still has some of the same bookstores I visited in the 1990s, used to publish a brochure in color with a map that had three different color of markers for new (green), used (red), and combination (blue) stores. Other brochures for bookseller associations would use numbers in black on white and white on black to make the distinction.

I just need to be able to filter out the new stores when doing an area search. It is too tedious to pull up the detail pages for each one to finally learn whether they have used books. I like to go where there are either a couple stores or to used stores which carry my specialty (children's books).

In the 1990s I'd make book-buying road trips across several states and I'd research the used book sources in the cities along or near my route. I printed maps of the cities and worked my way from one side of town to the other, according to the operating days and hours of the stores. Then, too, I'd focus on the stores in clusters, very large used stores, and those with our specialty of children's books.

In this same period I began to use the 6-7 volumes of the Used Book Lovers Guide which listed and reviewed the used bookstores in six regions of the U.S. and one volume for Canada. They'd update the books every 4-5 years. It was expensive to get them but they became indispensable when doing these kinds of road trips. They became part of my map making.

Late in this period they started to list their stores on a database. In the past couple years the database was bought by Nigel Beale of It is a help when trying to find stores but there are still too many closed stores listed. A community effort is needed. There also need to be ways to view maps for a city and a route to find stores that are nearby.

Proposing adding a used/new flag and providing filtering is an attempt to see if this community can provide an alternate resource to help me find the missing books when I'm not shopping online.


Jan 18, 2014, 9:29 am

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

Editado: Jan 18, 2014, 10:30 am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Jan 18, 2014, 10:50 am

>24 IanCCat: Please flag this. It's a company's attempt to hide spam.

Editado: Jan 18, 2014, 11:14 am

Agree that it's spammish, but is it a commercial enterprise? To me it looks more like someone who makes a misguided attempt at getting more members to a crowdsourced volunteer project.

ETA: Sorry, I looked closer and saw the affiliate links to Abebooks. Yeah, it's commercial spam. Flagging now.

Jan 26, 2014, 7:32 pm

I trade books a lot. Trading locally is often better to me than trading online. I do both. I trade a lot on I am sad that one of my local trading partners has gone under. The warning signs were obvious. So I used almost all the credit that I accumulated before the store closed. Here is my sad sigh to another institution gone from the physical landscape:,0,3222570.story#ax...

Editado: Jan 28, 2014, 11:34 pm

Do not be disheartened.

How was Pasadena Meet-Up Book Swapping?

You can actually create a domain inviting USA residents within the State of California or USA (Inland) to list their books for swapping not selling to the other members by mutual arrangement to meet for exchange at appointed meeting points or by posting by mail or courier mail to be mutually agreed between two parties.

Jan 28, 2014, 10:31 pm

@28, I miss Cliff's, too. I was planning to visit it last weekend and only discovered it had closed when I looked up the directions on Friday. I was bummed for the rest of the day. That was the kind of store I love, twisty aisles and lots of old affordable paperbacks, the kind of place you could lose yourself in for an hour or two. A wonderful store--I wish I'd lived closer to it so I could've visited more often before it was too late.

Editado: Fev 1, 2014, 10:45 pm

Have you heard of "Pasadena Book-Swap Meetup"? I really do not know whether this is linked to Pasadena's bookshop already menitoned at Message (30).

Check this out at your side. You can check details in the internet.

Fev 3, 2014, 12:08 am

My schedule did not let me make the last Meetups in Pasadena. I still hope to connect there.

Fev 3, 2014, 12:12 am

We still have the more expensive "Book Alley" in Pasadena. They have new competitive neighbors that are a very different model of store. They are net sellers who keep their junk local for trade etc. But still you can find some good trades there... across the street from "Book Alley". I really like the last bookstore on Spring St. in Los Angeles... and then we have our humble network:

Fev 4, 2014, 3:38 pm

I visited Book Alley on my recent trip to Pasadena, but it wasn't as much to my taste. I didn't like how the store or the website were laid out, and they are a tad too expensive for my regular budget, though I did buy a couple of paperbacks while there. Sadly I didn't have time to check out the other store I saw across the street, but I'll be sure to try them out next time.

Fev 8, 2014, 8:06 am

I am enjoying the 47th antiquarian book show. High end used books to be sure...

Fev 8, 2014, 8:58 pm

Bought any good books?

Fev 9, 2014, 9:20 pm

We attended the California International Antiquarian Book Fair on Saturday. We saw many books that you normally only hear about or see in book museums like the Huntington Library. Because the booth prices are substantial, sellers bring their top material in order to earn back those expenses. While I'm sure there were many books that were lower, of the ones I picked up, $150 seemed to be the lowest price.

We know many of these booksellers (and buyers) and had many productive and pleasant conversations through the day. At the end we attended a reception hosted by our bibliophile group, the Zamorano Club, that specifically invited visiting members of the Grolier Club of NYC and other guests of the local club's members. We had many fine conversations about books throughout the day.

At the show we did succeed in getting our copy of On Paper by Nicholas Basbanes signed and we were glad of that.

The next Pasadena book fair in the same venue is Oct 4-5, 2014 as hosted by Bustamante. The books there tend to be a little easier on the pocketbook, of course. We highly encourage anyone with a bookish interest within 150 miles of Pasadena to shop this fair.


Abr 29, 2014, 2:04 am

I will look forward to the show in October. Thanks for the heads up!

Jul 17, 2016, 10:34 pm

A few years ago the Minneapolis area probably had a dozen general purpose used bookstores, now we're down to 3-4 plus a half dozen Half Price Books. My wife and I traveled a lot for used bookstores in WI, IL, IN and OH. Each subsequent trip found fewer stores in existence. Even library bookstores are fading away.

I understand that store fronts have cost, but for me going to a store was more than simply buying a book. It was about exploring and finding stuff I didn't know existed. It was about holding the book and feeling it's heft. Finding and buying book 'A' online is easy, but not as fun as discovering book 'B'.

Current 'used' venues are becoming more concerned about recent bestsellers and cross merchandising crap than books in general. Most are a mile wide and an inch deep. I've been to stores where the history for the entire continent of Africa is limited to one 36- inch shelf.

Editado: Out 9, 2020, 8:31 am

Robie Books, formerly Robie & Robie, couldn’t survive the pandemic shutdown this year. The small college town of Berea, Kentucky will greatly miss this business.

Out 9, 2020, 8:39 am

How many has the pandemic wiped out? A lot I would think.

Out 9, 2020, 1:09 pm

We lost Uncle Hugo's and Uncle Edgar's in Minneapolis at the end of May due to arson during the unrest. It was a white person (video captured part of it but not enough for identification.)

Maio 10, 2021, 7:26 pm

One of my bookseller friends has been selling online during the shutdowns in California. They have arranged things in their shop to facilitate this. The result is that although other stores have been opening up, they may only do appointment only for the foreseeable future. It could be a step away from them becoming another appointment/online only seller.

In San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles — the areas I know well — it is astonishing how there are about 1/10 the number of stores that there were in the 1990s. The recessions of 2000, 2008, and now COVID have been devastating on all sorts of small businesses but we care most about the bookstores.

In the 1990s there were about 100 members of the San Diego Booksellers Association. These were mainly independent new bookstores and used bookstores and some library shops, paperback exchanges, and from-home sellers. Between 32nd street and 35th street on Adams Avenue there were a dozen bookstores on what was called Adams Avenue Book Row. Now there are no bookstores on that street and it would be difficult to name more than 10 used bookstores.

Two weeks ago we traveled around LA county to visit some stores we knew to be open. The travel time between stores was much greater than the time spent inside each one.

San Diego and Los Angeles are major population centers but the bookstores are evaporating. It's not just COVID. It is the spiraling overhead, the general lack of customer loyalty, and the shift to online searching. Book fairs, as I mentioned before are disappearing as well and those that are run are not generating the sales that they once did.

People who like bookstores need to remember the important role they have in keeping those stores in business by visiting and buying books and selling them material if they are still buying. A store that stops buying is on their way out of business. I've seen many stores recently that only accept donations or rarely trade. Most are not buying for cash like they did in the 1990s. It is partly a sign of the times but really it has been going on for a couple decades, not just the past year or so.

We will try an outdoor one-day book fair in North Park San Diego on Saturday July 17, 2021 from 10:00-5:00. It is being organized by Verbatim Books and located near their shop.


Editado: Maio 11, 2021, 2:36 pm

Thanks for that update! I live in Sonoma Co., so when we get south to LA or San Diego, it's good to know how things have been going. That said, our first stop, once things started reopening here, was Treehorn Books here in Santa Rosa. They're still open and are a great shop!

Maio 11, 2021, 6:50 pm

>44 benjclark: Have we had this conversation already? I live in Mendocino County but make sure to visit Treehorn whenever I get down to Santa Rosa. I love that place. In fact, I used to own Village Books, the used bookstore in Ukiah. When I first bought the store, the folks at Treehorn were very generous with great advice and also sold me a whole bunch of books at a really good price. They were trying to offload those books anyway, as overage, but they didn't have to be so generous price-wise, as they knew I really needed to enhance my stock. That was about 10 years ago.

Maio 12, 2021, 12:08 pm

>45 rocketjk: Nope -- all news to me. I've not lived here all that long and have not been up to Ukiah much, but I will have to check out Village Books when I go!

Maio 12, 2021, 12:53 pm

>46 benjclark: I hope you do! To be clear, I don't own the story any more, but the fellow who bought it from me is a very nice guy and doing a great job with the place.

Maio 12, 2021, 7:47 pm

>43 Keeline: The state of used bookstores is very depressing. Most surviving stores seem to be in really crappy areas where rent is cheaper and travel is not always advisable.

Nov 11, 2021, 4:57 pm

>48 LamSon: , life has many risks. This includes getting into a car or boarding a plane. Most people make informed decisions and decide which level of risk they can accept for the benefit received.

A couple months ago we made the rounds of some of the open stores in the Los Angeles area. Certain stores reliably have a selection of the kinds of books we like so we routinely find a box or so of books to get from them.

Recently we had occasion to return to San Diego where we lived for several decades before Feb. 2021 when we moved to Riverside county, CA. We stopped at 4 stores and bought a couple to several books from each store we visited when the condition and price appealed to us.

Between these trips we took a long trip up as far as Placerville, CA. My wife, Kim, had a book launch in Folsom for an anthology which contained a short story of hers. We decided to travel CA-99 through the central valley of the state since this road passes through many cities and towns where we have found bookstores before. With the help of Google Maps we planned our trip. The photos of the shops (both bookstores and antique malls) made it easier to determine which ones were worth a stop since we know the kind of shop likely to have our kind of books. We bought books at about 15 stores and came home with about 225 items with an average price of about $7 per book. Many were for resale with children's series books being a major focus. Some were for our collection.

Hopefully in our purchases we helped to spread the wealth a bit and, if nothing else, clear some shelf space for other books in the category.

We have another book-buying trip planned in a week. It is getting harder to find stores worth visiting. But if people don't buy from them, the stores disappear (along with their books) forever.

Otherwise, buy online — eBay, used book databases, Etsy. I don't bother looking for collectibles much on Amazon. It is usually a disappointing experience. Used books are fine to get from them and I buy new products from them.