Posts Tagged ‘used books’

So, Borders is Liquidating.

July 19, 2011

Anyone who has followed this for the past year or so can’t be overly surprised. There was always doubt that they would be able to right the ship or get someone to ride in and rescue everything with a huge bag-o-cash. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit to some part of me hoping for just that.

Since Media Play shut its doors, Borders has been my official (non-used) book store. I’m a member. I use the coupons, I browse the shelves and I paw through the clearance racks. Over the years, the place has become a lot less cool. As hey continuously re-organized the stores, they also kept not bringing in any real assortment. If you had been in one Borders, you had been in them all, so there was never much of a point in going to the Borders in Ann Arbor if you had been to the one in Toledo the week before. If one place didn’t have what you were looking for, neither would the other, and it would take half a year and a pint of blood to get something you ordered from them.

But, honestly, the coupons kept me coming back. Which, apparently, is more than a lot of people can say. While the selection ceased to be the best, and they didn’t have a lot of places to sit down and browse through a book you were thinking of buying, it was still a comfortable place, if only because of its relative anonymity. Towards the end, it was as if Borders was flaunting the fact that they weren’t a great bookstore any more, and they were all the more likable for it.

But when Borders finally closes up, and I have picked through the bones of every store I come across (I can’t help it, I’m a whore for clearance sales of any sort and liquidation screams cheap), my days of bothering with bookstores, at least the kind that only sell new, crisp, fresh from the printer books, will likely be over. I’m sure I’ll still wander in the occasional Barnes and Noble, or even Books-A-Million, but they won’t be destinations on my shopping trips. Instead, I’ll probably now stick to the second hand stores.  And if there is something I just have to have, and can’t wait for, well, Amazon is a couple of keystrokes away.

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Half Price Books and Borders Outlet – North Olmstead

August 19, 2009

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.

Half Price Books in Mayfield Hts – Store Review –

August 13, 2009

Yesterday my girlfriend and I were out and about and looking for a cheap place to buy some books. So we made the drive up to Mayfield Hts to check out the Half Price Books up there and see if we couldn’t finish shopping for her school books and pick up some stuff for ourselves.

For anyone not familiar with Half Price Books, it’s a national chain that deals in used books, movies and music. If you’re looking at paperbacks, the general rule is that they will be half off the cover price while the hardcover books are discounted a bit more steeply. They also have various clearance racks and special savings nooks where they have placed books they want to move a bit quicker or just get out of the store.

If you’re looking to sell them some of your old books or whatever the process appears to be pretty simple. You take your stuff to the appropriate counter (in this case, it was against the right wall when you walk in), someone looks it over and makes a cash offer which you can either take and go or put towards future purposes at the store.  I haven’t went to sell any books to them, so I can’t say exactly how fair their system is, but it seems straightforward enough.

Looking at books is easy and enjoyable. Aisles are wide, the place is very well lit, and it is very well organized. It’s a large chain store and it’s maintained that way. If you’re a fan of little “mom and pop” used book stores with musty smells of old books lining beaten shelves, this is not the place for you. If you want a (much) cheaper alternative to Borders and want to keep the nice “big store” amenities, you’re built for this place.

Getting to the store in Mayfield Hts is incredibly simple. If you’re coming from the east, just get on Mayfield Rd and keep going. If you’re coming from the south, all you have to do is hop on 271 and get off on Mayfield Rd. exit. It’s right off 271 on the southside of the road in a large shopping plaze with many other fun stores and a handful of places to eat. It could be an easy place to make a day of it.

Half Price Books

Bookstore Review: Encore Books

February 4, 2009

Recently had the opportunity to check out another useed bookstore in Toledo, Ohio. It’s called Encore Books and it’s off Heatherdowns in a little strip mall that is most widely known as the former home of House of Golf.  On the exterior, it’s pretty easy to find and the parking is ample since the strip mall is fairly small  (in other words, there isn’t much else around there that would draw a lot of people).

Upon entering the store you are greeted by a familiar site at used bookstores: piles of books everywhere. Here the problem is compounded a bit by the fact that the space itself isn’t exceptionally large. the combination of a lack of actual space with how space intensive a bookstore is (those things take up an unexpectedly large amount of room very quickly), makes the space allowed for walking seem very very tiny. At the time I was in there with my girlf friend there was just one other couple in the store and we still ran into eachother a few times.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad or uncommon thing. Unless you happen to wander into a used bookstore that is fairly well established within a community, which usually means it does a fair amount of business to have stayed in business longer than five years, I have found most used bookstores to be a bit on the cramped side.

Unfortunately, the tiny space was further hindered by a somewhat haphazard organization. The fiction was in two spots and the floor space was somewhat haphazardly divided up with standing racks and shelves.  Looking at the various racks and stands, I think they were put up from a feeling of necessity – the nature of a used bookstore results in a crapshoot assortment of whatever people bring in. However, some of these might have been better off left in the box rather than forced onto a shelf.

The selection itself was fair. They had a lot of the expected stuff from Grisham to King to Rice, etc.  Oddly enough their scifi/horror racks seemed quite a bit larger than the rest of the genres/literature. And there were very few of the larger format paperbacks that have come to dominate conventional fiction publishing. This is also means that you’re less likely to find that new work of fiction that’s been in paperback for just a few months. You might luck out and find it, but I think it’s unlikely at this store.

It also runs into what has become a pretty common irritant for me: variable pricing. I still don’t understand why all used bookstores, especially if they aren’t dealing in rare/collectible books, don’t move to a set pricing scheme. It makes it easier on the customers and easier on the people who work there.  there’s just no sense in going through and individually pricing a bunch of john grisham paperbacks.

In the end, it’s not a bad little store. If you have the time, and you’re in the area, you may as well check it out and see if you can’t find a deal. However, if you’re looking for something specific and/or new, I think you’d have better luck trying a couple of the other used bookstores in the area.

 

Encore Books

4400 Heatherdowns Blvd # 5
Toledo, OH 43614
(419) 389-1155

That Used Bookstore

January 14, 2009

To do my holiday shopping I decided to swing through the small town of Tecumseh, Michigan and roam around the downtown for a day in search of some small, personalized gifts.  It one of those quintessential small American towns with an assortment of little shops that seem to crop up in every small town but with minor variations that make it “their own.”

Amid a handful of little restaurants (I ate at The Cowboy Grill – the people were nice, the service good and the food hot) there were the obligatory antique shops and a couple of pubs. Instead of a toy shop there was a “hobby shop” which sold nearly every model of car, boat and plane you could want and a number you would also have to be able to afford. Instead of a candy shop, there were two wine stores. One just sold some wine and cheeses and the like while the other was an actual small winery.

What surprised me was That Used Bookstore. Used bookstores aren’t exactly profitable ventures. To put it kindly, they usually struggle to make ends meet. One used bookstore owner I know has talked of losing money the first six years she was in business. And this was in her seventh year. Simply put, it’s hard to make money when your costumers are people who are too poor (or, in my case, cheap AND poor) to buy the stuff new. Knowing this, I was a bit surprised to find this shop in the small town of Tecumseh.

I was in even more surprised to see how well stocked it was. I walked away with books by Arthur Nersesian, Robert Olmstead, Thomas McGuane and a couple of others. They had the usual assortment of Grishams, Clancy’s, Rice’s and King’s, just as any used bookstore does. But they also had a wide variety.

One of the negatives of the store is the lack of a clear price structure. What I have seen most often is a simple sign hung somewhere giving a price for all paperbacks, usually somewhere between $2-4. Instead, the prices are written in pencil on the first page in the upper right corner, though I did come across a couple of books with no price information.  I don’t buy to collect, I buy to read, and I never feel like spending $4 for a sci-fi paperback from 1965.  The prices weren’t bad, though. If anything, I would rate them as fair, usually very close to about half the cover price on the paperbacks. 

Apparently, That Used Bookstore is also associated with another bookstore called The Bookery, though the website is a bit vague on this relationship. It says merely that the “brick and mortar” store now houses both stores, but I never noticed moving from one store to the other when I was there.  Regardless, if you find yourself in Tecumseh, Michigan, give That Used Bookstore a look. The owner is nice and there is a fair chance you will find an unexpected treasure on their shelves.

That Used Bookstore