Who’s to say what you’ll find. Used books, First Editions, CDs, VHS. Borders, Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton. Local shops or a chain. Are you in and out or like to browse? Drink coffee, skim the magazines, read something for an hour. Is it the experience or the book you’re after? Both? Any stand out?


My favorite bookstore is the public library… all the books you want for free!

At my elderly stage of life, I prefer to just go in and pick up what I put on hold rather than browse.

But when I was younger, I did enjoy going through the used bookstores, shelf by shelf. I’d often sell back what I had for credit and then pick up another armful. Those were fun days. And it was great when you found something you’d searched for, for a long time., or you’d just grab something on a lark. I remember this cover caught my eye


And I wound up enjoying it (don’t know how it holds up). This came out in 78, I was reading King, McGammon, Straub, James Herbert around that time period. So yeah, sometime mid to late 70s into the 80s was when I was doing the used bookstore thing.

But I wasn’t a collector, just a reader.

Today it’s different - easier, though not as challenging. I still prefer an actual book, but will read something online (digital), especially now that even the libraries are going that rout, and it’s either do that, or do without.


I did have a great time a few years back when I discovered Muriel Spark - when I finished reading everything they had at the library, I went and put in an order at Thriftbooks, I think they had some kind of sale, and what a kick when the package arrive full of new-to-me Mureal Spark novels. I think I mentioned it when they arrived (goes look) yup, it was just a quick note.

And I used to work for Walden books, so I had access to plenty. (Edit, had a look, and they are gone - as of July 18, 2011; 12 years ago - bankruptcy)


Before brick-and-mortar bookstores completely die off, I want someone to bottle up and preserve the smell of a Barnes & Noble when you are standing the perfect distance away from the cafe and close enough to the books so you get a nice balanced bouquet of books and coffee. I will store this fragrance in a drawer near my bottle of Ditto Machine scent.


Two favorites within walking distance of each other.


I used to live about 6 blocks or so from this place, it was, overwhelming to say the least (it really was a city of books). But oh, the selection.


I miss Borders. I used to buy a lot of books from there and was a regular at their Seattle’s Best coffee bar.

As you know, I lived in NYC for years, being born & raised there. I loved visiting Barnes & Noble bookstores but many have since closed down. I was a regular at the one in Union Square - in fact, I got to meet Ian McKellen there back in 2001 as he was doing a Q&A session to promote the Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson!

Strand Books was also a favorite of mine as that was an independent bookstore and I found lots of goodies there.


A bookstore, in this day and age?! I think Waterstones is the only big chain bookstore left over here. We’ve got a few used book stores in town, but I’ve not had a chance to explore any of them so far.

But we do have an entire village of bookstores! The Welsh village of Hay-on-Wye is famous for being at least 95% bookstores (citation needed). Even the little old castle on the hill was full of books when I was there last. It was also declared an independent kingdom back in the 1970s.


This town has two bookstores: One slightly bigger than a closet and the other a Books-a-Million, which is hardly a bookstore anymore.



Several years ago, while visiting Chicago where my wife had a conference, I had plenty of (i.e., too much) time to walk around and explore. I was quite happy to find a small used book store to pop into. The proprietor was quite friendly, and asked what I was looking for. After a while of “just browsing,” I wanted to purchase something as a reward for this place existing (it was enjoyable just to be there), I asked about whether he had any P.G. Wodehouse books. I ended up buying a paperback copy of The Inimitable Jeeves. An excellent story (a comedy), by the way.


Almost all of my childhood science fiction collection that I didn’t either inherit from my brother or get as a gift came from used bookstores. It’s how I discovered A Canticle for Leibowitz and Immortality, Inc., which are my two favorite novels in that genre.


Same. Bookseller for 6 months, assistant manager for 15 months, senior bookseller for 7 months before I said to heck with retail. Worked 2 Xmas seasons and one Harry Potter book release, yikes!

(I do miss the discount and the employee book loan program, though.)


We travel around to find used bookstores, some great, some not so great.

A recent trip we made:

We went to four used bookstores in one day recently. (One in Tullahoma, three in Murfreesboro, both here in Tennessee, somewhere between one and two hours away from where we live.)

“The Book Shelf” in Tullahoma consists entirely of donated books, and raises funds for literacy. Staffed by older women (volunteers?) and pretty well organized.

“The Happy Book Stack” in Murfreesboro also had vinyl records, comic books, manga, etc. Lots of tiny children came in (not my favorite company, frankly.) Run by a fellow best thought of as a “dude.”

“The Grumpy Bookpeddler” in Murfreesboro was very nicely organized, and had a HUGE science fiction and fantasy section. The majority (but not all) of the SF/fantasy books listed below came from this place. Run by an older gentleman.

“Crying Cat Books & Records” in Murfreesboro had, of course, vinyl records, DVD’s, CD’s, and both new and used books. Run by a young woman. Best thought of as a “hip” place.

My better half got about as many nonfiction/intellectual books as the SF/fantasy/and other books I got, listed below. I don’t recall exactly which book I got where, but, as said, most were from The Grumpy Bookpeddler.


Amazing , March 1988, November 1990, and January 1996. (There was also one from the 1970’s but it had a badly damaged cover and consisted mostly of old reprints.) There were also tons of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Analog from the 20th century. We already own all of the former, and was not extremely interested/was overwhelmed by the latter.

Hardcover nonfiction:

The Ape-Man Within (1995) by L. Sprague De Camp. The SF/fantasy writer suggests that our primordial ancestors gave us the characteristics that explain why we mess things up so badly.

Hardcover science fiction/fantasy:

From This Day Forward (1972) by John Brunner. Collection.

Unicorn Mountain (1988) by Michael Bishop. Fantasy.

The Coming (2000) by Joe Haldeman. SF.

The Businessman: A Tale of Terror (1984) by Thomas A. Disch. Dark fantasy/black comedy.

Maps in a Mirror: The Short Fiction of Orson Scott Card (1990) by You Know Who. Often split into four smaller books, this big volume is said to contain “virtually” all his short fiction from the beginning to the date of publication.

Large softcover SF/fantasy:

The Annotated Wizard of Oz (Centennial Edition) (1900/2000) by L. Frank Baum, annotations edited by Michael Patrick Hearn. A big, lovely book.

Zero History (2010) by William Gibson. Borderline SF/technothriller, the last book in a very loosely related trilogy after Pattern Recognition (2003) and Spook Country (2007), which I read a while ago.

Red Moon (2018) by Kim Stanley Robinson. SF.

Paperback Sf/fantasy:

The Man Who Awoke (1933; 1975 reprint) by Laurence Manning. Supposed to be a classic of pre-Campbell SF.

The Jewels of Aptor (1962; revised/expanded 1968) by Samuel R. Delany. His first novel. SF.

The Eleventh Commandment (1962; revised 1970) by Lester del Rey. SF. Overpopulated future world ruled by a Church.

Ice (1967) by Anna Kavan. New Wave? Slipstream? Surrealism?

The Butterfly Kid (1967) by Chester Anderson. Hippie SF.

Tool of the Trade (1987) by Joe Haldeman. SF.

Science Fiction: The Best of 2001 (2002) edited by Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber. Anthology.


Barters Books in Alnwick* is in the old train station. In my experience the selection does vary but it’s a great building and the staff are very nice.


There is even a wee train that loops round the building on a suspended track


*A shiny silver penny to the first person to pronounce this place name correctly!


Ooh, we’re planning a trip up there in the near future, and that might have to go on the list!


Alnwick in general is definitely worth a stop - the castle and gardens are great, if a bit pricey. A tour of the poison garden is recommended, particularly if you get the tour guide whose default way to explain how poisonous a plant is to say how much of it you need to kill a child.

After half an hour you’re very much like ‘OK DUDE!!!’

Highest recommendation in Northumberland is Cragside though


I haven’t been able to comfortably read print books for a couple of decades, so I seldom go to B&M bookstores anymore. Am happy to check out ebooks from the libraries and buy many, many books online. Have seen B&M stores come and go, have seen formats come and go, have seen online bookstores come and go. The only constant is the books themselves. While I once enjoyed browsing used bookstores and the many discoveries made there, I also enjoy online browsing and have made, if anything, even more welcome discoveries there. I have more than 300 books on my TBR list on my ereader.

I’m never going to run out of books, no matter what form they come in.

(Please don’t bring up ‘the smell of books’. No one ever bought a book purely for the way it smelt.)


Borders was my go-to place. It felt familiar and like family. I loved going there for their DVDs, CDs, and Books. So many Criterion Collections bought from there and boxsets. Their selection was better than Barnes and a bit cheaper too. Ordering wasn’t as much a chore either. I really miss that place and I might very well be “The last Borders Bookstore Customer.” Cry Wilderness (1987) reminds me. Every time.

I had a friend Jeremy who would ride along and drink Espresso while I would shop. He was thin and the Espresso made him manic. I remember those times and think of him and the coffee. Thank You Borders.

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It appears you’re between a rock and a hard place.

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95 percent bookstores? Really?

Ah, the smell of reading Ray Bradbury “I Sing the Body Electric”, for the 102nd time, while cozied in one of their comfy chairs.

Unfortunately, at our B&N, that would be in the toy area.
Which is where people let their sprog run rampant, unattended.
So, no way to cozy into that chair, and breathe Nirvana.