The Hunt for Ideal Romance Bookstores

Scrinnameless sent me a wonderous account of a used bookstore in Mobile, Alabama, that got me thinking. Get a load of this:

While waiting on my cousin to get out of work (my day to pick her up), I walked over to a nearby used bookstore I’d been in before, and, thanks to your influence, I began to notice the romance novels.
 
  …And, holy fuck, The Book Corner is loaded. Hundreds of Silhouettes, and hundreds again of Silhouettes special editions. Two shelves of historicals. A shelf of contemporaries. Old-school novels out the wazoo.

  I am not exaggerating when I say my hasty figuring on the back of the business card puts them at a couple of thousand romance novels. Next time I’m out that way, I’m bringing the camera so I can take some pictures for you.

  Anyway, it’s kind of a small, out of the way place, so I want you to put the word out to the Bitchery: Next time they’re in Mobile, or if they’re ever in Mobile, they have to stop by this place and buy some books.

  It’s the Book Corner, at Schillenger Road and Airport Boulvard, found in a corner in that strip mall between Airport and the Wal-Mart.

I have never had cause to go to Mobile, but now I totally want to go. Like damn.

And Scrinnameless (who promises me pictures of Ye Heaping Big Selection of Romance) has given me a good idea, but I want your opinion: do you think a collaborative map of Bookstore With Good Romance Selections (Used and new!) would be of use to Ye Fabulousse Bitchery?

 

I can name two good bookstores near me, one used, in New Jersey, and one new, in Manhattan. I’ve started a map (see below) and would welcome your suggestions as to where we romance readers can find good used and new romance selections.

View Larger Map

It would seem to me that with independent bookstores closing frequently now, we should make it as easy as possible to find the romance.

If you’d like to contribute, please feel free – anyone should be able to edit that map. And I welcome your contributions—all the better for me to plan a Smart Bitch Road Trip when the book comes out!!

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  1. 1
    SonomaLass says:

    Great idea, SB Sarah!  Alas, I have not been able to find a store where I live that is worthy of being on the map. Bookstores around here are snobs about romance, in my experience.  But this would be a great resource when I travel.

    Road trip? Book tour?  Make it to NorCal and I am SO THERE, at the bookstore of your choice.  I’m still not over missing the Bitchin’ fun at the RWA conference last year (stupid wedding!).

  2. 2
    Mari says:

    I can’t give you the exact address but in London, Charing Cross Road, there is a bookstore that specifies in romance novels and mysteries. Their basement is stuffed with all sorts of crime, the first floor has nothing but romance.

    I’m sure someone else knows it too.

  3. 3
    An Goris says:

    yay! fabulous initiative. I would love such a map! Unfortunately nothing to contribute. I’d like to know the name of the Charing Cross Road store, ‘cause I’ve been there and nothing immediately comes to mind so it seems I’ve been missing out on a gem.

  4. 4
    Cat Marsters says:

    Mari, it was Murder One on Charing Cross Road.  Emphasis on ‘was’, unfortunately.  They closed 24th January.  I went there for a Sherrilyn Kenyon signing last Christmas: the staff were awesome and even brought us hot mulled wine as we queued outside in the freezing cold (the shop was too small to contain the queue!).  My non-romance-reading friend was astonished at the number of titles—and the amount of man-titty on display.

  5. 5
    SusiB says:

    I think this is a great idea. Unfortunately, we don’t have that many used bookstores in Germany, at least not in my hometown, which isn’t exactly small with its more than 580,000 inhabitants. But I really like to make a tour of the local bookstores whenever I’m travelling abroad. This is one of my favorites in Florida:

    Book Bank USA
    Largo Mall
    10500 Ulmerton Road
    Largo

    And then of course, there’s

    Haslam’s Book Store, Inc.
    2025 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida 33713

  6. 6
    Mari says:

    Thanks for the info, Cat.

    Such a shame. I’ll be going to London in a couple of weeks and I’d counted on going there.

  7. 7
    KCfla says:

    My favorite UBS, in the heart of “Historic” downtown Melbourne, FL.
    On The Shelf
    824 E. New Haven Ave
    Melbourne Fl 32901

    They have TONS of romance novels. Along with about any other kind of book there has ever been lol!

    And it’s just as you would expect. Crammed like OMG to the rafters, and with that cool smell/atmosphere a book lover just knows is a good thing!

  8. 8
    Lori S. says:

    Hmmm.  Why can’t I get my local ubs to save on the map?  I must be doing something wrong.  Anyhoo, here’s my fave:

    Harbar Book Exchange
    1033 Semoran Blvd # 137
    Casselberry, FL 32707

    (407) 834-0153?

    Awesome used book store!  Not only do they have a bajillion romance novels, but the two ladies who run the store are mega-knowledgeable in all things romance.  Love one author and want to find another who writes in a similar style?  These ladies should be able to help.  Love, love, LOVE this bookstore!  They’re the single biggest reason for my TBR mountain.

  9. 9

    Hmm, that map is only showing up for me with one landmark denoted: Nariman House in Mumbai. 

    So, where oh where is this UBS in New Jersey?  I just moved out here, and I can think of nothing better than a Saturday spent trawling through a good bookstore for OOP wonders!

  10. 10
    Brandi says:

    Jerry Clouiter Used Books in Woodland, CA has a huge mass-market romance section, and while their book buyback only pays in store credit (but they took a lot of books I couldn’t get other nearby bookstores to look at—it may just be that Davis, being a college town, tends to glut its used bookstores’ inventory), they’re very generous about how much credit you can use on mass-markets (but only mass markets—they have to make a profit *somewhere).

    They also have very large military fiction, Western fiction, and SF/fantasy sections.

  11. 11
    ev says:

    I have at least 3 used bookstores around me (one is actually a sci-fi/fantasy store but actually does carry romance) and I will need to double check the stock on the other 2 stores first.

    I would love to see this map since I am making my cross country tirp in March and if there are any on my route, i will definately stop in! And then mail the books home to myself. LOL

  12. 12
    Iasmin says:

    SB Sarah queried:

    [D]o you think a collaborative map of Bookstore With Good Romance Selections (Used and new!) would be of use to Ye Fabulousse Bitchery?

    I think yes, but there has to be something that really makes it worthwhile to go there. Is sheer volume the deciding factor? Is it that both used and *new* are available? If the first is true then I’ve a faboo location near me:

    Paperback Trade Inn (http://www.paperbacktradeinn.com/)
    145 East Fourteen Mile Rd
    Clawson Mi 48017
    (248) 307-0226

    The selection? Rows upon rows upon rows of used. Now, for your other criteria of new books, well…this is where they fall down. There’s a small but good selection but technically used for the most part. I think their trade in policy is generous and reasonable for everyone, though some people might need to ask for it to be explained. Knowledge of the owners? Pretty darn good in my book considering that the typical conversation that I’ve heard sounds a great deal like a HaBO entry. Do you count parking? Easy access and dangerously close to one of the area’s best sushi places.

    So, does it count? It would in my book but maybe other people may be judging by different criteria.

    You might want to talk to site owner SSBiggie at Lunchinabox.net, who implemented her Bento Store Locator (http://lunchinabox.net/bento-store-locator/). The concept isn’t that much different in my eyes from a romance novel store locator.

  13. 13
    Kathy says:

    I am super inept this morning and cant figure out the map :(

    My family and I have been frequenters of The Almost Perfect Bookstore in Roseville, California for over a decade. Not only do they have aisles (and aisles and aisles) of romances of all flavors, the staff (specifically the owner) are SUPER knowledgeable and always have great suggestions for new authors or new books.

    The Almost Perfect Bookstore
    1901 Douglas Blvd # 82
    Roseville, CA 95661

  14. 14
    GrowlyCub says:

    I’ve been to that bookstore in Mobile, in 1995, and I remember it very fondly!  :)

    Here are my recommendations:

    The Book Rack
    3501 Dayton Blvd
    Chattanooga, TN 37415

    Lovely old store with separate Regency and Gothic sections that carries old series back to No.1 and a big bargain corner. It was slated to be closed in March, much to my dismay, because the owner wanted to retire after 34 years in the book business, but her customers convinced her to keep it open! 50%, 25% trade-in credit, 80/20 split on trade/cash when buying.

    Grumpy’s Music and Books
    3905 Hixson Pke
    Chattanooga, TN 37415

    I’ve found real treasures there for very little money.  They also carry vinyl and CDs.

    MacKay’s Books and CDs
    6435 Lee Hwy
    Chattanooga, TN 37421

    Real deals to be had on newish categories and they also carry CDs, games and DVDs.  Their parking lot is always full, as in can’t find a spot regardless of time of day.  They don’t give much credit (that’s how they sell some of the things so cheaply) and they don’t carry older categories, but I’ve found some fabulous textbooks there and some treasures in the Regency section.
    They are moving soon to a bigger store (further down Lee Hwy).

    America’s Thrift Stores
    6401 Lee Hwy
    Chattanooga, TN 37421

    While it’s completely unorganized, they have a humongous romance section where I’ve found a few treasures.

    The Book Legger
    4001 Holmes Ave Nw
    Huntsville, AL 35816

    Very good sized romance collection, quite some older categories. 50%, 25% trade-in credit.

    The Bookshelf
    Madison Plz
    Huntsville, AL 35801

    Mostly romance and mostly new(er) stuff, but I heavily shop their bargain section (3 for $1, 2 for $1) and have found quite a few great new-to-me authors that way.  60%, 30% trade-in credit

    I can’t wait for that map! :)

  15. 15
    Collette says:

    Oh yes, that would be lovely.  And if someone could point me to a great used bookstore in Chicago (I’ll take Chicagoland!), it would be great.  I have some wonderful used (and new) bookstores in my neighborhood (Hyde Park) but none, except for Borders, that carry romances.  At all.

  16. 16
    Courtney says:

    I think a map is a fantastic idea!

    Other than the two online sites (that I assume most people already know):

    http://www.paperbackswap.com

    http://www.bookmooch.com

    There is also a great used book store in Manassas, VA with a terrific selection of all used books, but especially romances. My mother loves getting her Intrigues there for a quarter each. They also sell DVDs and CDs and do also take trade (though they don’t give you much for it).

    McKay’s Used Books
    8389 Sudley Rd
    Manassas, VA 20109
    (703) 361-9042

  17. 17
    Karen says:

    I used to live in the NY/NJ area, and I had a list of about 30 bookstores within driving distance of my house.  Unfortunately, most of them have gone out of business since then – very sad!  But there is one that I still visit:

    Book Trader
    494 Inman Avenue
    Colonia, NJ

    They used to be located in Rahway on St. Georges Avenue, but they moved a couple of years ago.  Their prices are a little high, but they have great selection and a good trade-in policy.

    These two stores are in the northern NY suburbs, and I haven’t visited them in a while, but I think they’re still around. 

    M&M;Paperback Exchange
    2294 State Route 208
    Montgomery, NY

    Bookworm
    1797 Route 376
    Poughkeepsie, NY

    Both very romance friendly, with a lot of older books. 

    There used to be a great store in Connecticut, with a huge selection of older books, especially Regencies.  They also had all the old series books, including Candlelight, Second Chance at Love, etc.  The last time I went there, the store was gone.  I hope some romance lover got those books, because I hate to think of them being trashed.

    Karen

  18. 18
    bookwormom says:

    My favorite UBS is:

    C & W Used Books Inc · (703) 491-7323 · 14583 Potomac Mills Rd
    Woodbridge VA

    They’ve a good selection & it’s shelved out by subgenre: paranormal, contemporaries, historicals & categories. There’s a small selection of traditional regencies, but it’s shrinking. The store is also good for SFF & mysteries. Sometimes there are a few romances in the audiobook section.

    The manager told me they’ve only signed a 5 year lease (as opposed to the usual 10 years) because the landlord can’t keep an anchor store in the shopping center. They’ve been there for ages, but now I’m afraid they’ll disappear due o lack of traffic. :(

  19. 19
    Carmen says:

    Dog Eared Books in Independence, MO has 1/2 of the store dedicated to romance books! And it is not a small store. I could spend half a day there looking through all of their books. They have historicals, contemps, categories, paranormals – all separated by category and alpha.

    Dog Eared Books
    3623 S Noland Road
    Independence, MO 64055
    816-833-8889

  20. 20
    Mary G says:

    Thank you guys – especially Lori S for the address I might be able to use.  One thing I thought I’d never find over here was a good old Aussie style book exchange!  My Mum was addicted to romance novels (no surprise where I got my own compulsion from) and we used to take bags full of them to the book exchange in the little country town we lived in every couple of weeks – that place was 3/4 full of romance novels (there’s a word for that… nirvana)!  Nothing like cheap books and being able to offload the non-keepers for some credit against more books.

    My aunt (she lives here in FL too) finds most of hers at thrift stores.  If you like the decades old Harlequins and Silhouettes then that might be a good choice too :)

    As for new bookstores, Barnes and Noble and Amazon keep me in more books than I can handle :)

  21. 21
    Jordan says:

    Just delurking to add my favorite UBS in the Metro Atlanta area, which is also the only UBS I know of in the area.

    Book Exchange
    2956 Canton Road
    Marietta, GA 30066
    (770) 427- 4848 ph

    They have a really great selection of both romance and non-romance books.  If you can’t find it, just ask the owner and she can tell you exactly where it is.  The owner is incredibly knowledgeable, not to mention extremely person.  The second time I went into her store about a year and a half elapsed since my first visit, but she remembered who I was. 

    Alas, I have recently moved from Atlanta, but luckily, I found a great UBS just a mile down the road from where I work which just also happens to be named Book Exchange.

  22. 22
    ksquard says:

    Great idea! Yes please send addresses for any UBS in Northern New Jersey. I’ve been longing to find a good one in this area for some time.

  23. 23
    Tilla Ocotilla says:

    COAS in Las Cruces, NM lots of Romance
    2 locations one on the Downtown Mall and one on South Solano
    http://www.coasbooks.com/

    Almost Perfect Booksellers
    1901 Douglas Blvd Ste 130
    Roseville, CA 95661
    (916) 781-7935
    half the store is romance, you name they should have it.

  24. 24
    Tabitha says:

    I’m all for a map of used bookstores. There are 2 near me (I’m in PA) which I will have to look up the names and location when I get home…but I know of one where I have been ordering from online and the service is quick and friendly, and the books are super cheap. The store is call Abooktrader and they’re located in FL.

    Abooktrader
    The website is: http://www.abooktrader.com/
    Location: 41 3rd Street NW, Winter Haven, Florida 33881

    I’ve never been to the actual store so I can’t say how big their store is. From what I’ve been looking for and ordering for the past several years, they have a pretty good selection. Furthermore, if there are any books that are not listed online, an email to the store have yielded additional selections.

  25. 25
    Polly says:

    There’s an absolutely huge used book store in Midlothian, VA. It’s in a strip mall, and the size of two or three strip-mall-size stores. Forget shelves and shelves of romances, they’ve got rows. I mean, like 10 rows of various types of romances novels—everything from old (and I mean old) Harlequins, Zebras, etc, to historicals, paranormals, and everything in between. It’s also got one of the best trade in plans I’ve seen, since they give you 25% credit for your books (the store near where I live only gives you 10%). Books are all half-price. They’ve also got a good selection of mysteries, fantasy/sci-fi, classics, and children’s. Pretty much like many used book store, just bigger.

    It’s just called Book Exchange, and the address is 13198 Midlothian Turnpike, Midlothian, VA 23113.

    If you’re in central VA, it’s definitely something to check out.

  26. 26
    SusannaG says:

    There is a good used bookstore near me, with two locations:

    The Carolina Book Rack
    1332 North Pleasantburg Drive
    Greenville, South Carolina 29607

    23 Shoppers Drive
    Greenville, South Carolina 29607

    Trade-ins are good for store credit.  About half the store is some variety of romance – series, regency, general historical, contemporary.  They also have a limited selection of new books.  There’s a bargain table up front that usually has a good number of romance titles on it.

  27. 27
    Vanessa says:

    im always on the hunt for awesome used book stores. there’s one minutes away from me, and their romance selection is monstrous! ive known of it for a few years now and i’m fairly certain that i still haven’t seen even half of their inventory lol

    i’m almost 100% positive that this is it (i always forget to catch the name, i just know where to go by memory)

    U-Trade-M Book Centers
    2706 Hempstead Turnpike, Levittown, NY 11756
    Phone: (516) 796-3131

    i don’t know if he has any system of keeping inventory, i don’t see how he could, its all kind of choatic, but i keep coming back cause i’m always finding hard to get books there :D

  28. 28

    Thank you Jordan! I’m in Dunwoody, but willing to travel to Marietta for a good UBS. The one nearest me on Holcomb Bridge is a clip joint. Their exchange policy is absurd.

    If you’re in Huntsville AL check out my two faves which I miss like family. Note, the black romances are at Bookshelf 2.

    Bookshelf 2
    256-830-4424
    Madison Plaza
    930 Old Monrovia Road
    Huntsville, Alabama , 35802

    Book Shelf 1
    256-881-5040
    5000 Whitesburg Drive
    Huntsville, Alabama , 35802

    I love the way they even break down the subgenres. Hella cool.

  29. 29
    Karen says:

    Since a couple of people mentioned Atlanta, I have to add my favorite Atlanta-area bookstore.  It’s a ways out to Snellville, but it’s worth the trip – a huge selection of romance, especially older Regencies, series books, etc.

    Paperbacks
    1977 Scenic Highway N
    Snellville, GA

    The Book Nook chain has a hit-or-miss selection of romances, but I’ll never forget the day I went into Book Nook and found a dozen Mary Balogh Regencies, sitting on the floor.  Score!  I tried not to do the happy dance until I got out to the parking lot.

  30. 30
    Shmemily says:

    I’ve got a couple good UBS in Lexington, KY for ya’ll.
    The Thrifty Bookworm is my favorite. Excellent selection and great trade in policy. They have a semi-annual sale where every book is 75% off the cover price. They’ve been in business for over 20 years and know their stuff!
    http://www.thriftybookworm.com

    Reincarnated Books
    285 Southland Dr
    Lexington, KY 40503
    Has a very good romance selection.

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