As fascinating as the seemingly cloistered world of professional book-dealing can be to an outsider looking in, the everyday buyer is content to browse multi-genre used-book stores out of curiosity or in hope of adding affordable finds to the home bookshelf. As in, “Excuse me, do you have any Dashiell Hammett or Mary Roach?”
With that in mind, this sampling is for the bibliophile who lives in most of us. Most genres are represented, but some stores semi-specialize in certain ones. These stores buy and sell, and offer some arcane titles.
Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays
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What’s there: More than 100,000 titles “in all genres, from escapist reading to serious collectibles,” with many literary first editions, said owner Peter Keat. “We’re not strong in technical fields (such as) chemistry or engineering.”
Best-sellers: Children’s books, California and the American West, philosophy and personal growth.
Among the special: A first edition, first printing of the “Alcoholics Anonymous ‘Big Book’ ” (1939, $7,500); a first edition of “The Naked and the Dead” by Norman Mailer (1948, $250); an autographed copy of “Due Considerations” by John Updike (2007, $175).
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily
What’s there: Between 80,000 and 100,000 titles in all genres, except textbooks. “We do not limit our scope, and we price to sell,” said manager Andrew Naify. “We peddle books more for the lay reader, as opposed to the hard-core collector. There’s room for cool stuff to slip in, but nothing incredibly spendy.”
Best-sellers: World War II and military history, pulp fiction from the 1940s and 1950s, young-adult fiction, classic 20th century literature (Zora Neale Hurston, Ernest Hemingway). “The biggest fiction writer we can’t keep in stock is Haruki Murakami,” Naify said.
Among the special: A private-press collection of naturalist John Muir’s letters ($400); historical atlases of California counties ($50-$150). Mark Twain’s ribald “1601,” published anonymously in 1880, sold overnight for $1,400, Naify said.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays
What’s there: More than 150,000 titles in multiple genres.
Best-sellers: Any kind of popular bestseller-list fiction, California history and the American West, science, nature and seasonal gardening and ‘back to the land.’”
Among the special: An early printing of “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand ($150); a 1996 reprint set of “News of the Plains and Rockies: 1803-1868” ($200). In the past, The Bookery sold a two-book fine-press edition of “Night Thoughts” by Edward Young, with watercolor illustrations by poet William Blake, bound in goatskin leather ($850); and a signed limited edition of “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ($15,000).
Note: The Bookery buys books Mondays and Fridays, by appointment only.
Toad Hall Book Shop, 108 N. Pine St., Nevada City; 530-264-7183
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays
What’s there: About 5,000 titles in select genres, with emphasis on “literature by deceased authors, and Pulitzer Prize- and Nobel Prize-winning authors,” co-owner Gary Stollery said. Also: first-edition paperbacks, cookbooks and a small but select line of rare books on Scotland and the British Isles.
Best-sellers: Children’s (“Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss fly off the shelf”), natural history, archeology, anthropology, 20th century classic fiction. “Joy of Cooking” and anything by Julia Child sell quickly. Enlightenment and metaphysics are popular “(because) this community is so involved in that,” Stollery said.
Among the special: A leather-bound history of the Black Watch (an infantry battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, $595); a signed copy of “Flight of the Wild Gander” by Joseph Campbell ($195); the 1959 “Pillsbury Best 1,000 Recipes” ($45). A “big portfolio” on the history of Nevada County recently sold for $1,800.
Hours: 11a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays
What’s there: More than 30,000 hard- and paper-back graphic novels and comic books in most standard book genres. “It’s all here – romance, crime, fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, horror,” said owner Kenny Russell.
Best-sellers: “Anything by Image Comics publishing company, Russell said. That includes the R-rated “Saga” graphic novel series, an “epic space opera-fantasy” with shades of “Romeo and Juliet.” Also: “Walking Dead” comic books, and DC Comics’ “rebirth” titles starring its seminal superheroes (Batman, Wonder Woman, et. al.)
Among the special: The occasional collectible graphic novel or comic book.