I have decided that there are basically two kinds of regular used book stores in the world. I have been to both kinds this week and they were very different adventures. Every once in a while, I get adventurous and stray from the big box bookstore right down the street from my house in search of a better deal with more interesting finds. I have been driving by the first used bookstore I visited this week for quite a while. I had always been curious but usually on a hurry to get somewhere else and so I never stopped in. I finally decided that I simply had to go check it out.
I walked into this bookstore (which will remain nameless to protect their owners) and it was exactly what you think of when you think of a negative used book store experience. Crowded shelves that were made by hand and are complete unfinished. boring white walls and obviously home crafted sales counter. The man who could have only been the owner came out and awkwardly greeted me, asking if I had any questions. You could tell that sales was not this man’s forte but that he preferred to be lost between the covers of a book. That was the last interaction I had until I came back to the counter with my purchases. You could tell that this man liked fantasy and sci-fi because it was one of the largest sections available. I think his wife must have been into romance novels, because it was the largest section. The store was silent, only broken by the yelping and barking from dog groomer next door. There were a couple of positives to this bookstore though. First off, it was nice to shop without being bothered. While I appreciate a sales person doing their job (being a former retail worker myself) I am the kind of customer who prefers to be left alone and probably won’t buy anything if sales people are in my face. This bookstore also had a $1.00 section in the back! That was amazing! I picked up a couple books. The dollar section alone will get me back in, but I don’t know that I will visit often.
I had to have a better used bookstore experience and so, I decided to make the drive to my favorite used bookstore, Bookman’s. This store is the biggest bookstore I’ve ever been in. It has bright orange shelves everywhere and they are packed to the brim with every kind of book. You can find almost anything you are looking for in it’s shelves. I always end up grabbing one of the rolling carts and filling it up. I usually leave with two bags full of books. I don’t go to Bookman’s unless I plan to buy because there is just so much available. There is a large staff of friendly people willing to help you trade in your old stuff or help you find something interesting to read. The staff is a bit umm… interesting but always friendly. There is always good music playing and places to sit down and pare down what you’ve selected. It is seriously the best used book store experience I’ve ever had. I traded in six books and was able to get five new ones 🙂 It was great!
What kind of used bookstore experiences have you had? Do you like going or not?