A Trip to the Used Bookstore
Over at Comic Book Resources, a fellow by the name of Greg Hatcher used to report regularly on all the used bookstores he’d encountered in his travels. Here’s an example of what I mean. They were fun round-ups with plenty of details and photographs. Back when I lived in NYC I’d read them almost wistfully. NYC has a couple used bookstores remaining, but they’re nothing like the ones you can sometimes stumble on in other parts of the country. I yearned to find my own one day.
This week, I went on vacation.
The resident husband and I went to a little place called Gilchrist in Southwest Michigan. There, in a lovely house devoid of WiFi, we got some serious writing done. Occasionally we’d emerge into the sun like blind little cave fish and make our way to the nearest town for food. There were just two to choose from: Dowagiac and Three Rivers. Day 1 we went to Dowagiac and got his cool photo from the eclipse:
Day 2 we went to Three Rivers where we encountered this:
There’s not a lot going on in downtown Three Rivers, but this bookstore was hard to miss. Later it would turn out that my family has a long history with Lowry’s but I didn’t know that when Matt and I stumbled in. Inside, it was magnificent. The used bookstore of your dreams. Here are some of the highlights, just for fun:
You know when you’re in a bookstore and you suddenly realize that the employees there care a LOT about the books they sell? For me, that moment came when I was looking up this staircase. Someone systematically, painstakingly, painted each and every one of those steps. And not some slapdash job either. They took an infinite amount of time and effort to do just the fronts by hand. And they were even careful where they put them. Here’s the top:
I want to meet that painter. I want to shake their hand. I want to thank them.
After that, it’s important to see how they lay out their children’s books. There is a separate section for the new stuff. Refreshingly, it’s kept far far away from their old stuff. And I sure hope you’re keen on the Stratemeyer Syndicate because if you are, have I got a collection for you!
I can’t help it. I love how they do their face out covers. I don’t even care that they’re covering other stuff up.
And I know a couple Little Golden Book collectors who would probably salivate over the offerings they had on display in that particular area of the store:
Now one of the nice things about Lowry’s was the fact that they always had new posters and advertisements in the windows facing the street. Personally, I love it when libraries and bookstores hold on to old promotional posters. Check out that dual poster for Joey Pigza Swallows the Key / Joey Pigza Loses Control.
Alas, I didn’t get a good shot of this Bloom County comic they blew up. It’s just as well. I was this close to sticking it down my shirt and running hell-for-leather to the exit with it. I particularly love that the Library Lion is enjoying it as well.
Oh, like I didn’t already own the complete set of these:
(I didn’t, for the record)
This next one was a bit of a puzzle for me. Who in the blue blazes thought that this book jacket was right for Pinocchio? The interior illustrations don’t match. I was oddly disappointed when I figured that one out.
And sure. Why not. Let’s just throw in some signed Dav Pilkey prints while we’re at it.
I spy, with my little eye, an old friend in the adult Sci-Fi section. You do know that Lisa Graff wrote Mothership with her husband back in the day, yes? Good to see it still kicking around.
So if you’re a denizen of Michigan (and I know quite a few of you out there must be) please don’t hesitate to take a special trip out to Three Rivers to check out this amazing store. It just goes on and on and on and on and on. It’s a dream used bookstore. Everything you could ever want in a place.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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