books4.jpgI love books. Reading them, looking at them, arranging them, buying them. So naturally I care about the best places to obtain them. Here are some of my favorite bookstores and my thoughts on bookselling (and buying) along the way.

Eighth Day Books: This is the best bookstore I’ve ever been to. It’s in Wichita, Kansas, and is run by a Greek Orthodox guy named Warren. They have the best collection of materials on Patristic studies that I know of, and a little (actually a lot) of everything else. The bookstore is located in a large, old house in a historic section of Wichita, which makes each visit more an experience than simply a trip to pick up a book or two (or five. Or six). This is not only a great place to get books, it’s a great place to find books. The difference is subtle, but huge.

Regent College Bookstore: I went to graduate school at Regent College and worked for the bookstore for a year or so in the audio department. I have a ton of respect for the owner, Bill Reimer (no relation), who has transformed the bookstore from a small venue for selling textbooks into one of the best theological bookstores in all of Canada. He has developed a publishing arm, which helps keep the store afloat (given that everybody buys their books from a megalithic web store that will remain unnamed). What also makes the store unique is that it has developed the aformentioned audio department, which records many of the lectures and classes and makes them available on CD, DVD and MP3. They even have a great new site where you can download MP3s of lectures and classes (for a price). Americans, don’t be daunted by the store’s Canadian status; they’re able to charge US dollars and ship from this side of the border, which keeps costs down for the buyer. Nevertheless, I know it’s cheaper to buy “elsewhere,” but just old booksremember this: someday down the road when you think to yourself, you know there really aren’t any good bookstores in my area, you have contributed to the demise of a good thing by buying all your books from the evil empire.

Elliott Bay Book Co.: This is a large independent bookstore in downtown Seattle. It has creaky hardwood floors, a bargain section upstairs and a whole room dedicated to used titles. They also host numerous book signings and other literary events. If you’re ever in the area, check it out; it’s worth it.

Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Ore.: What this place lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in sheer magnitude. When you go in, you get a color-coded map. Each room is painted a different color, indicating different genres, which corresponds with the colors on the map. If you go here, block off at least several hours.

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