Half Price Books and Borders Outlet – North Olmstead

Finishing up the reviews for North Olmstead bookstores today.  Despite my largely negative review for The Book Rack in North Olmstead, I have to say that the town itself is impressive for the bookstores it harbors. It’s on the outskirts of Cleveland, close enough to drive to but far enough away to have its own identity. My g/f and I went to a japanese steak house for dinner (Dasaki?) and were seated with a group of four who were celebrating one couple’s twelve year anniversary and these were the most “like” the people I am used to being around than anyone since I have moved to Cleveland. Maybe that means they were just “small townish” compared to the cleveland-ites, and this isn’t a knock on the people of Cleveland, but they were people I was familiar.  What impressed me the most about North Olmstead was the sheer volume of bookstores – used and new – and how tightly they were packed together. Within a five minute drive of eachother were three used/outlet bookstres (two literally across the street from eachother) and a mall with a walden books. Not only were there two used bookstores, and I had significant problems with one, but they were both well stocked.

The Half Price Books in North Olmstead was, for all intents and purposes, a clone of the one I reviewed in Cleveland Heights. And this is not a bad thing. Everything the one store got right, this one also got right. From cleanliness to pricing to organization to lighting to everything else – Half Price Books in North Olmstead is a wonderful used bookstore. The strengths of it being a chain store are evident. It is clearly that the corporation sets forth some clearly defined standards and is sure that its stores comply with them. Their clearance racks are impressive, their help is good and their pricing is fair. If there is a Half Price Books near you, or if you see one while travelling, don’t hesitate to stop. Outside of some bizaar outlier, like a crazy woman ransacking the store or turkeys being thrown from a helicopter, you will be able to shop for affordable books in a nice environment.

The Borders Outlet (right across the street from Half Price Books) was something that piqued my curiosity.  Anyone familiar with the Borders chain knows that they have massive clearance racks within their stores so I was curious what exactly could be sent to a Borders Outlet. The answer is pretty much what you see on the clearance and discount racks at your every day Borders. The same essential cookbooks, the same helping of fiction books that didn’t sell, the same anthologies and assorted non-fiction books and kids books.  It’s not a place where you’re going to come across a great find or anything. But, if you don’t have a regular Borders nearby, I can see how the Borders Outlet would have some appeal. What it lacks in selection, the store was rather spartan and occupied a space far larger than it currently needs, it makes up for with cleanliness and presentation. If you’re going out on an earnest bookhunt, it’s not something to go out of the way for. But if you have thirty minutes and want to just browse some cheap books, it’s not a bad place to stop.

As a whole, North Olmstead is a bookshoppers paradise. Even if you don’t necessarily like the setup of a store or two, the stores are still there and you can find some great bargains (my g/f and I each spent around $10 on the day and we each brought home 4-7 books).  We didn’t get around the whole town but the only thing North Olmstead appears to lack is a big bookstore along the lines of a full fledged Borders or Barnes and Noble. But they do have a Walden Books in the mall and there’s always the internet.  Another big plus for North Olmstead is that all of this shopping is within minutes of the interstate.  We got off at our exit and the mall was right there, along with Borders Outlet and Half Price Books while the Book Rack was a very short drive to, essentially, the other side of the mall. So if you’re travelling through the area and looking for a quick book splurge, plan ahead, print off some maps of the area and it’s an easy way to kill a few hours and hit numerous stores.

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