Seeking new and unknown (to me) used bookstores
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I've been in Chicago for twenty-plus years now and many years ago saw my favorite used bookstore (Booksellers Row on Lincoln) sacrificed to the yuppification of Lincoln Park (one of the owners I spoke with attributed it to the increasing numbers of 20-somethings who, he said, "didn't read." I think he meant that their tastes were such as not to support the store but the effect was the same).
Ever since, I've been seeking a really good used bookstore. In the past year or two I've discovered Bookworks on Clark (near Wrigley Field) and Myopic Books (on Milwaukee, south of North). I frequent Powell's (all locations) but find their stock too recent and too predictable, by and large. What I like about my most recent "discoveries" is that they actually carry books printed before 1980. My interests are primarily fiction (American, but especially foreign) but a good general used bookstore is always welcome. For the moment, I'm only interested in places within the city limits (or perhaps Evanston) but that may change. What well-known place(s) have I somehow managed to overlook?
I haven't lived in Chicago for awhile, but there's a place (or was) on Wacker, I think, right by the river. I was next to a Jazz/Blues record store. I can't remember the name of the place, but it had a decent used selection, if I remember. You already mentioned Myopic, my favorite. Also liked Quimby's, but I don't think they carried used.
Try O'Gara & Wilson's, just down the street from Powell's on 57th St. (Their blog.)
There's Selected Works, on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building on S. Michigan, Afterwords Books at 23 E. Illinois St., Kate the Great's Book Emporium, 5550 N. Broadway Ave.
If you're feeling a bit extravagant, try Printers Row Fine and Rare Books on S. Dearborn.
If you're feeling a bit extravagant, try Printers Row Fine and Rare Books on S. Dearborn.
Lucky me: I was given two volumes from there for Christmas! :) I've walked by it a number of times, but (unlike Myopic, a couple of the Powell's, and O'Gara & Wilson), I've never been in. Apologies for popping in here, non-Chicagoan that I am, but I happened to look at 'All Topics' for a change, and couldn't resist. You're fortunate in your bookstores. (Trouble with a closing notwithstanding.)
Thanks to the responders so far.
I probably should have written a bit more in my post. I am familiar with those you suggested and like them well enough. O'Gara & Wilson is definitely a nice change of pace from Powell's; Selected Works is reasonably good and though I like their new digs, their selection doesn't seem to turn over a lot. Kate the Great is walking distance from my house but the one time I visited it seemed largely (though not exclusively) mass market paperbacks with an occasionally interesting hardback.
For those who don't know it, I should also mention Bookman's Corner a couple blocks north of Diversey on Broadway. Though they're pricey, they always have a solid selection.
I have a vague recollection of Afterwords on Illinois; thanks--I'll have to check it out! Printers Row Fine and Rare is a great resource but I don't often feel flush enough to visit! I do seem to recall another one in that vicinity that I haven't thought about for some time: anyone know much about Sandmeyer's? Does it carry used?
What else am I missing?
Sandmeyer's is exclusively new books, unless something's changed since I was last there (during Printers Row Book Fair!). Their website doesn't say anything about used books.
Also, there's the Chicago Rare Book Center on Washington St. and Howard's on Maple Street in Evanston. The Rare Book Center has a nice selection of rare books, but much of their stock is affordable and most is very interesting. Howard's has less interesting stock, but the upside is that the owner severely reduces the price on any inventory that has been in the store even a relatively short amount of time. Make the trip for the Rare Book Center, but stop at Howard's if you have the time.
There is also Bookman's Alley in Evanston- so not quite Chicago- it is really off an alley and very cosy. It offers more rare books than the good solid used books.
There is one in Lincoln Square I am forgetting the name of but I think they are a touch pricey and more hardbacks. There is another on Belmont close to the train station and another on the corner of Clark and Wellington which has the books a bit precariously packed in there I have visited them both and bought books there but the selections didn't wow me.
It is always worth waiting for the summer book sales at the Newberry Library and of course the one that used to be the Brandeis bookfair.
I'll also plug the Midwest Antiquarian Bookseller's Association Book Fair, which is usually in November. I've only been to the one this year, which was at DePaul, and it was pretty good. The fair has booksellers from all over the upper midwest, and there were a lot of good deals to be had. It was also just fun looking at the books I couldn't afford.
The MWABA website (I don't have the address) has the information on when and where next year's fair will be. There's a nominal entrance fee, but this year they gave away a free copy of Fine Books & Collections magazine, and the cover price was nearly as much as the fee.
I don't remember the exact name of the store (I thought it was Bookman's Corner, but Message #5 makes me think otherwise) on Clark & Wellington, but it says "Books: Rare, Medium, Well Done" on the window. And I really like that store :-) It is VERY cramped and hard to navigate, but I have often found gems there, for very cheap, especially in the fiction section.
I think Afterwards is a bit pricey, myself.
And I love, love, love the Printer's Row Book Fair and the Newberry Library sale!
Ack! Thank you, aarti. You caught me. The correct name of the place I was thinking of is Bookworks at 3444 N. Clark. Bookman's Alley, which I agree is exceedingly cramped and hard to navigate, has occasional gems but it can take a lot of patience to wade through the piles.
Thanks, too, to all who have responded. I'm learning a lot and hope this thread has proved as useful for others as it has for me.
> There is one in Lincoln Square...
That's Ravenswood Used Books at 4626 N Lincoln Ave. Also very, very cramped, but I've found some great titles there for a good price.
When you are ready to venture two hours outside Chicago, two of my favorite used bookstores are in Milwaukee:
2 floors well organized and very reasonably priced books, plus also used CDs and lps.
Renaissance Book Shop:
3 floors, bit of a jumble but always worth digging thru their stock,also on the plus side for the carnivore, its only a couple blocks away from Usinger's sausage store.
Absolutely wonderful news for those who ever make it to Evanston: I discovered two wonderful used bookstores today.
The first, and my favorite--now one of my favorites in the whole Chicagoland area--is Howard's Books. It's owned by a guy who used to own/run? Bookseller's Row on Lincoln, if your memory extends back that far. It's not a large store, but he has an excellent stock, not just things printed after 1980 (a la Powell's). He's at 2000 Maple, the corner of Maple and Foster (a convenient one block walk from the Foster el stop on the Purple line). Best of all, his prices are extraordinarily reasonable. Tell him you heard about him on LT! (I told him about the site)
The other is more "downtown" Evanston: Amaranth Books on 828 Davis, again only a block from the Davis Street el stop. It's a smaller, tidier place with not quite the breadth or depth of Howard's, but a very nice selection and also extremely reasonably priced.
I was thrilled to discover these two shops and am looking forward to returning soon (so leave me some books!)
theres the armadillo's pillow in rogers park, right across the street from the village north theater on sheridan.
theres the two in boystown and i don't remember the name of either. one is on broadway on the block between cornelia and addison. and the other is on belmont between the belmont red line station and clark.
there used to be another one by the jarvis train station also in rogers park but i'm not sure if its still there.
Armadillo's Pillow is a wonderful place; I should have mentioned it myself. Thanks for bringing it up.
I think the one you're talking about on Belmont is Gallery Bookstore at 923 W. Belmont. It's okay, but I wouldn't go out of my way; same is more or less true for Shake, Rattle, and Read (north on B'way, near the Green Mill) which has a much better selection than one might expect but little in the way of unusual or unexpected (to me, anyway).
I think you may be confusing Bookworks (which is on Clark just south of Addison) with one on Broadway (at least I'm completely unfamiliar with one on Broadway there; though Selected Works used to be on Broadway in that vicinity (it's now in the Fine Arts Building).
I'm completely unfamiliar with one near the Jarvis station. But I did just uncover something called Gingko Leaf on Rosehill, just outside the entrance to the cemetery. Anyone know anything about it?
That was my thought, but it's not a used bookstore. However, I can't think of any used bookstore at that location, and it does fit Unabridged's.
I just walked by a used bookstore today that I had never seen (of course I went in) It is called City Books and is on Broadway between Wellington and Belmont (next to the Intelligentsia).
It is small but very tidy and well organized they seem to have a fair number of older paperbacks as well as newer paper books and a few old or collectible books. I didn't have long so I am afraid I didn't check the prices but any used bookstore is a good addition.
Clearly I have not walked up and down the stretch of Broadway. Today I discovered another used bookstore that is closer to Diversey than Wellington. It was large. Well organized and had a great selection. I bought a few paperbacks which ranged fro $2.75 to $6. Of course I can't remember the name now.
Marensr, as to 21>, I think you mean Booklegger's, which is a very nice store. I don't know if they turn over stock very quickly in the store (they do a lot of internet business), but they have a nice selection and very reasonable prices. Their fiction section is especially good.
I've been to City Books once when I was walking up Broadway (from Booklegger's as it happens). I wouldn't recommend anyone make a special trip there, as it has a limited selection. But if you're in the neighborhood anyway, it's worth a look.
I second Marensr's suggestion of Bookman's Alley in Evanston. It's beyond a bookstore, it's...well, IMHO you just have to experience it. I think it's well worth a trip to Evanston; it's a wonderful place.
Seminary Co-op Bookstore on the U of Chicago campus in Hyde Park
Probably the only used books are textbooks, but this is a great bookstore for depth and range.
An interesting thing about the Co-op is that they generally keep a lot of titles on the shelves past the "return date." Most new book retailers take advantage of a policy whereby publishers issue a credit against books returned within a certain period of time. That's why Borders will not have any copies of the hardcover after the paperback comes out.
At the Co-op, though, I've occasionally found for cover price a book that is out of print and very expensive used on Amazon or ABE.
Here's a thread about a new one opening up:
There's a new shop in Evanston called Marketplace Books, on Davis just West of Chicago. They're trying out a new business model: used books retailing by the pound. Their current price for all their stock is $3.99/lb.
They deliberately don't have desirable rarities--they evidently have some other way to unload those--so if you go in looking to score an obscure "find," you're likely to be disappointed. On the other hand, they are well supplied with current popular books in good condition, and you'll typically end up paying less than one third of the publisher's list retail price.
Two west suburban stores...
At 1014 College Avenue, Wheaton (630-871-8330), 1/2 block from the College Ave Metra station, is Rare Finds. It's in an old two story house and, when it first opened a couple years ago, was somewhat disorganized and crammed with books. In fairness, they were in process of organizing at the time. Based a then gawking around, they had a broad variety of books. I don't know this, but I wouldn't expect any rarities (other than someone's error) in spite of the store name. You might call and ask if you're interested in rarities.
Bargain Bookstores (a small chain of maybe 20 stores in Michigan - that's the HQ - Indiana & Illinois) is a remainder store. I find most remainder stores a low percentage hunt but their store in Naperville was pretty interesting to me. The first time I ran into it about 10 months ago, I was thinking of building a house (didn't) and the "Small House" series of house design books were of interest. They had 'em at about 15% of retail, along with some interesting history and other books. Large store, well organized with cheerless, dismal lighting and inexpensive, beat floor tile (is this an appealing picture?). They are in the Ogden Mall near the NWC of Ogden & Naperville Road, Naperville, south of the E-W Tollway a bit. The phone is (630) 355-9230. In Illinois, their other store is in Calumet City in the south suburbs. BB's website is:
P.S. I love the Seminary Co-op store referred to here. Watch your head on the pipes and lintels, it's in a low ceiling basement. Ouch! Also, the building that they are in was recently purchased by the University of Chicago; U of C states that the book store can remain, but you never know. U of C is a voracious real estate user.
P.P.S. If you're a foodie, also in the Ogden Mall is an H-Mart, an Asian (Korean) supermarket with interesting shopping and good produce. It's part of a chain of stores. I divert myself.
Speaking of Wheaton: there's also Richard Owen Roberts Booksellers at Washington & Front Streets. They also do gorgeous binding work.
#28...I noticed that Market Fresh (books by the pound) bookstore the other day but didn't go in. What sort of amused me is that you can also "rent" books from them. I forget exactly how it works, but I think you pay for the book up front, and then when you return it, they give you a refund, deducting x amount per day. It's funny to me because the store is one block from the Evanston Public Library, where the books are actually free (and the library has parking)!
#29 I went by Rare Finds in Wheaton today. Four clues: A pile of snow on the front stairs, no one around, a for sale sign up, the telephone number is kaput. I can take a hint; apparently out of business.
I would definitely recommend Bookleggers on Broadway near Diversey. Oddly enough, I think the books get cheaper as you walk toward the back of the store (at least in the fiction section). I'm always able to find the classics there, as well as more recent modern fiction.
Just a warning, one time the person manning the store didn't realize I was still inside and went on a break for ten minutes, locking me in the store. It was funny, but keep that in mind if you walk in and you're the only shopper or are in a time crunch.
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