To me, there are very few things that are better than a cheap, charming used bookstore. When I was home in Bedford, Texas this last week, I was reminded of how, since I was a kid, I have always loved wandering around inside Half Price Books, looking for my next literary adventure. Every time I go home, I go to the local branch and hit the clearance section to grab great books for $2 and $3. Even though it is now America’s largest used book store chain, it started in Dallas and the store around the corner from my parent’s house is the one that I’ve been going to since I was in the first grade.
It seems that stores like HPB are a rarity these days around here. In fact, in Los Angeles, there are not many notable cheap used bookstores that I can think of. The only one I frequent are the $1 Book Heaven in Burbank, which is currently operating a Halloween store at the moment and I’m told will be turned back into a bookstore soon. And I’ve heard Ilyad Books up in North Hollywood is good, though I try not to venture into the valley anymore unless I really have to.
I’ve been wondering why this is, and I’m guessing it is due to lack of demand and expensive real estate prices. There are a lot of small independent shops that are great – Book Soup in my neighborhood is awesome – but I don’t get the lack of used bookstores. Why are Los Angelenos so anti-used books?