Used book stores: great deals and misplaced volumes...

One of my favourite places to go is a good used book store. Dad used to say you could take the "intellectual temperature" of a city by examining it's used book stores. We used to love to go to them together. 

Maybe some of our readers can write and share great used book stores and deals they have gotten around and about. Any used book store stories will work. Here's my latest.

Bloomington just got a Half-Price Book Outlet on the west side of town. I've been there twice already and it's great. All books seem to be $3 and under with most of them $1 or $2. They do need to work on their filing system, however.

While looking through the Religion section, I noticed a copy of volume three from Martyn Lloyd-Jones' series of sermons on Ephesians. It covers chapter three of Ephesians and is titled, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ. It was on sale for $2 and was filed under Christian Finance. 

David Wegener

David is an ordained Teaching Elder (Pastor) in the Central Indiana Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. He currently lives in Lusaka, Zambia with his wife, Terri, and serves as the dean of the Seminary at the African Christian University. He is a career missionary with Mission to The World in Zambia.



If you're in Fort Wayne, stop at Hyde Bros. books (on Wells St.). It's a tiny looking little place but inside it's got walls and walls of used books floor to ceiling, with rolling ladders and regular stepladders you can climb on to get to things. They have a decent sized religion section and a large children's book section, everything very well organized. Sam Hyde, the owner (the other Hyde brother left a few years ago to start a bookstore across town called Every Other Book), only accepts books that are unique or special in some way, and it shows.

Bloomington has a Half-Price Books now?!! Very exciting. Now if only you get a Costco, we really might have to move back. ;)

Most of our best used finds are by Michael in the music department (CDs and Records), but I think my best HPB find has been Matthew Henry's Commentary In One Volume for $3! 

I've read your blog for a number of years but have never commented (I enjoy reading but generally do not have the time to comment).  However, this post about used book stores has prompted me to mention a whole town of used book stores.  The town is Hay-on-Wye (pronounced "Hay on Way").  It is located in Wales; based on their latest web site, it has over 30 used book stores.  Our family visited the town once when I was working in England.  While we did not buy as much as we would have liked (we left a complete set of Churchill's "History of the English Speaking Peoples" on a shelf - that was a mistake), the environment and aroma of the town (a whole town of used book smells - its was great!) make it a stop that is not to be missed if you are near the England/Wales border.

I kind of like the stores that carry new and used side-by-side. My favorite of these are Powell's in Portland Oregon. It is a wonder - takes up an entire city block with several buildings cobbled together - up two, down four steps, etc. you could get lost for days. 

The other is much smaller, but very good -- Logos Books in Santa Cruz. I've found a couple of unusual books there. 

Of courses, the promised land for theology and philosophy is Loome in Stillwater, Minnesota. I believe they're moving, but had been housed in an old church building. The choir loft was a positive warren.

I've never been very good at finding books myself, but a friend who is a church history professor is. He once had a book sent to me from a little bookshop he knew in Ireland. The book had the most delightful smell, a combination of leaf mould and tobacco.

The Ohio Book Store on Main St in downtown Cincinnati has five and half stories of books.  I once bought about 10 reformed classics (hardbacks!) for $20 when the store was selling off the library of a recently deceased local pastor.  They do great bookbinding and repair of antique books as well.

Powell's is awesome. My wife is from the Pacific NW and we enjoyed visiting Powell's when we lived there. Here is my used book story. Our local library has a used book sale every Tuesday. Most of the stuff is junk. But I go in there just to look. In the Spring, I was in there and found J. Murray's Commentary on Romans for free because it was religious and old. 

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An afternoon at Powells provided a pleasant repast for Mary Lee and me this past month when we were in the Portland area. Got some gooduns, although not inexpensive.

Did Half Price last week and found some gooduns, each a buck.

Once got a first edition original binding copy of Baxter's Paraphrase of the New Testament from a resale shop here in the midwest. My dear mother-in-law worked there as a volunteer for many years and about twenty years ago she brought home a box of books her husband had donated to the shop earlier in the day. He was cleaning out his library. True.

Mom disapproved of his taking the box of books to the shop when he could have given them to a family member, so I was the beneficiary of her largesse. (Mom is always giving us gifts from the shop. Mary Lee and I are up here visiting her this week and just yesterday she gave Mary Lee's sister, Janet, a nice used glass butterfly from the shop. We all laughed knowing where it came from.

It took me several years to look closely at the books. The appearance of the paraphrase is unprepossessing and it took me about ten years to realize what I had. Dad's box also had a copy of Newton's Ecclesiastical History.

For years, I frequented resale shops and found some of my best bargains there. Back in 1983 at the Episcopal church's tiny resale shop in South Hamilton, MA, I picked up a beautiful old hardbound copy of J. C. Ryle's Holiness printed in the UK. I was pleased to get the book, but more to get the name inscribed inside the front cover: "Thomas Howard."

A couple years later, Mud was invited to a Howard family dinner in Wheaton, hosted by the Dave Howards. The occasion was a visit from both Betty (Elizabeth nee Howard, Elliot, and Leach) Gren and brother Tom (Thomas Howard). The Howards were close family friends from back when we lived in Philly, and thus Mud's invitation to join the family for dinner.

She told me of the dinner and I asked her to tell Tom I was delighted to inherit the "Holiness" he'd discarded when he Poped.


Me, too, David. I love the smell of used book stores.

Kamilla: I've visited Powell's Used books on 57th Street in Chicago, just down from the University of Chicago. And also O'Gara's used bookstore, same street, nearer to the university, though I don't think the cat is still there.

I found the first two volumes of the Collected Writings of John Murray for half-price at O'Gara's in the mid-80s.

James A Dickson Books, Edinburgh Scotland

Best Christian bookstore I've ever been although the Met Tab bookshop was close.  Lots of books, new and used, pretty much entirely Reformed in character and not a card in sight.

There is a little joint called "Books and Coffee" on Hampden Avenue near Santa Fe Blvd, in the southern part of the Denver Metro, Colorado. Inside is quite the mess of books in piles, books on high shelves rimming the walls near the ceiling, books piled high on the counter where one orders coffee or treats, books on shelves along a wall heading to the bathroom--the vintage section; books on high shelves, double-sided, in a large room adjoining...I got a copy of Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics by Daniel B. Wallace there for around half the price online (retail): quite the treat in a shop that normally, for being brick-and-mortar and indie, prices books more expensively than one would expect.

The quality varies however. Some treats, some things very common. Better shops may be found in Fort Collins, CO. There are some celebrated ones in Denver, CO: tattered cover used to be among them, and some of the others just seem to be overglorified spots for graduates stepping-in to the city life, thinking themselves hip and cultured, or even hipsters, whether educated or not. Anyone here in CO and know some good spots? To the rest, thanks for the recommendations!


You're talking my territory! (I live in Englewood). Do you mean Fireside Book & Coffee? I haven't checked them out yet. 

i can't believe I've left off my favorite place, Agia Sophia in the Old Colorado City area of Colorado Springs, though its not a used bookstore. It is a book and coffee shop run by the Antiochian Orthodox Parish. They nearly always have chant playing, which makes it a great place to study. 

I went to the Half Price Books for the first time today. My finds?

Adultery and Divorce in Calvin's Geneva ($2--I'll give it to my brother, David), and a really nice steak cookbook for $1! If anyone wants to spring for the steaks, I'll be happy to cook them.

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