Some two or three years ago, my family went to the Tattered Cover bookstore without my (my flight had not yet arrived in Denver) and I swore I would return. (This is the second successfully return – see “The Last Bookstore” in LA). And return I did – this time in February, at the beginning of a ski trip. And the Tattered Cover was even better then I had hoped. In addition to a wonderful book selection, cozy interior, friendly staff and clever name, it boasted the following features:
A huge, wide, welcoming staircase (A good staircase is often an underrated bookstore feature)
Cozy interior, couches for reading, space to browse
Helpful suggestions to guide browsers to interesting books
Even the signs are friendly and welcoming! This is a place that makes it easy to find a book.
The Tattered Cover Press
Topically relevant tables.
The upshot of all this is that the store makes its selection of books easily accessible to browsers – an essential element of a great bookstore. Its easy to see why this has become one of the landmark independent bookstores, and I am thrilled I finally got to visit!
The Tattered Cover
1628 16th Street
Denver, Colorado, U.S. 80202
On the corner of a post-card cute downtown portsmouth, you will find Book & Bar, a coffee shop / used bookstore that also serves beer. I love the stately outside (it didn’t hurt that I visited B&B during a small snow-storm). The selection inside is limited, but made up for by the clean interior – the gray tones are clean but still cozy, and the well organized shelves reveal a wonderful window seat (one of my favorite things in any book-related space).
Book & Bar
40 Pleasant STreet
Portsmouth NH 03801
603 427 9197
On a snowy day in February I found myself with a few hours to kill in downtown Concord (pronounced as in conquered, not like the grape) and was quite happy to have Gibson’s Bookstore to check out, a few short blocks from the capital buildings. On first impression, the store looks a little like your standard Barnes and Nobel, but inside it had a few neat things, including an excellent local section, and a neat rack featuring award winning books.
The rest of the store was a little over-crowed with the sort of stuff one usually finds cluttering around the cash-registers (journals, pens, book-kits, reading lights, etc.) but the store was still warm, welcoming and worth a visit if you find yourself in town.
Love the local lit section!
I thought this was a neat book display
27 S. Main STreet
603 224 0562
A. Parker’s Books
A. Parker’s Books
1488 Main Street
We ended our morning tour of Sarasota’s bookstores in the heart of downtown Sarasota at A. Parker’s Book Bazaar. This place was quite a contrast to the other stores we had been in – focused on rare and collectable books but still with some paperbacks. The inventory was of much higher quality (but at a higher price point). While I usually avoid the “rare” bookstore (in favor of the “used”), I must say this was great. The staff couldn’t have been nicer (or more friendly!) – I often feel uncomfortable browsing in such places, but even though I was quite causally dressed (read: gym clothes), we were welcomed in. The store was fun to explore – the books were nicely arranged with interesting titles prominently on display, and although a number of titles were in protective plastic, browsing was ok. I found a really cool book on the cruising lifestyle (living on a boat), and some interesting cookbooks from other eras. The furniture was almost as interesting as the books – I came across what looked like an old card catalog neatly tucked in below a bookshelf.
Brant’s Used Books
Brandt’s Used Books
429 North Lime Avenue
After a morning of hunting for used bookstores, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy Brandt’s Used Books was to find – on a reasonably sized road (others were located in plazas off 6 lane super-roads – makes it difficult to find a small store at 50 mph), the sort of road you can make a left turn on, and with a large sign. We arrived shortly after they had moved to a new location and they were still unpacking boxes but invited us in to poke around. Its difficult to say what the new location will be like when they finish moving in. The store is tucked in a large, but windowless building (although there are friendly paintings on the outside). Inside, there are connecting rooms full of make-shift bookshelves. Boxes of books (again, they are still moving in) line the aisle, but the bookshelves are already filling up. Strange items – perhaps “collectables” seem to be piled on the higher shelves. But the owner was very friendly, and the store dog is absolutely adorable (always a plus).
Annie’s / Jan’s Paperback Express
I was sure this place would be out of business. We had a guidebook to Sarasota that was only a few years old, but the majority of the bookstores listed in it had closed shop. Initial googling turned up a phone number that didn’t work, and a few message boards that said Annie’s had closed, but with no yelp page, and no definitive website (not that a website is ever definitive), we decedided to solve the mystery once and for all. On our morning tour of Sarasota bookstores, we marked it on the map and turned on the GPS. We arrived in the plaza a little confused – 3251 17th street was clearly marked, but was also a Big Lots. We were used to finding that bookstores had closed, or become something else, but this seemed like, well a big lot, to have once been a used bookstore. Then we noticed the number – Annies was to be at #90 – and continued along the plaza. There, tucked in by what must be the last remaining Blockbuster, we found not Annie’s Paperback express, but Jan’s paperback express.
Inside was a used bookstore treasure – a store that focuses on paperbacks, but is well organized and a pleasure to browse. I know – that doesn’t even sound possible, but its true. Multiple copies of the same book are grouped together, the shelves are neatly arranged, and the front shelves present a display that is downright pretty. The store is heavy on the Florida standards – romance, spy thrillers, lighter reading and other beach books, but its the kind of store where you actually might find what you are looking for!
Jan’s Paperback Express [Formerly Annie's Paperback Express]
3251 17th Street, #90
Bee Ridge Books
Unfortunately we arrived before the store had opened for the day, but I was happy to see another used bookstore still in business, and I look forward to visiting someday soon!
Bee Ridge Books
4104 Bee Ridge Road