Everyone my age seems to have a bucket list of things they want to do before they die. I finally came up with an idea for my bucket list when I was talking to a customer the other day. She is flying to New York City to visit relatives and while she is there she is going to Strand bookstore near Union Square. She said it is an amazing place with one entire floor devoted to art books. I immediately thought of Powell's Books in Portland, which is my favorite used bookstore (not counting Paperbacks Unlimited!) When I travel, I always visit used bookstores in the area and try to purchase a book or two. What a great idea for my bucket list, visiting the biggest and best used bookstores in the United States.
STRAND BOOKSTORE: This bookstore, founded in 1927, holds the distinction of being the largest used bookstore in the world. It contains over 2.5 million books and they advertize that they carry over 18 miles of new, used and rare books. In 2016, The New York Times called The Strand "the undisputed king of the city’s independent bookstores."[ The most expensive book they offered for sale in 2017 was a copy of Ulysses by James Joyce for $38,000. They are located at 828 Broadway, Manhattan, NY.
POWELL'S BOOKS: Powell's City of Books occupies an entire city block in the Pearl District of downtown Portland. It was founded by Walter Powell in 1971. They have approximately one million books in stock spread out over 1.6 acres of floor space with nine color-coded rooms and over 3,5000 different sections. They have a large selection of out-of-print and hard to find titles. It has been ranked by USA Today as one of America's ten best bookstores. The flagship store is located at 1005 W. Burnside St., Portland, Oregon. I am drawn to this store every time I am in Portland.
JOHN K. KING USED AND RARE BOOKS: This bookstore, established in 1965, is the largest bookstore in Michigan. It houses over a million books in a four story bookstore. The owner brings his canary to work with him every day. I noticed a deer head mounted on a bookstore wall when I was perusing their website. Salon, the online magazine, described the store as having "...one of the largest and strangest collections in North America." They are located at 901 W. Lafayette, Detroit, Michigan.
BARTS BOOKS OF OJAI: This is another unique bookstore that I have had the privilege to visit. It attracts people from all over the world who want to visit the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore in the U.S.A. It was founded in 1964. I got to experience Bart's firsthand a few years ago when visiting my sister in Ojai. Some of their books are located on outside walls, available whether they are open or not, and sold on an honor system. I was a little critical of their organization but it does have character and charm and is definitely worth checking out, as a one-of-a-kind experience. Bart's is located at 302 W. Matilija St., Ojai, CA.
I have provided a very small sampling of bookstore bucket list possibilities. What I really love about visiting used bookstores is that each one is completely different than any other one you have been in before. They are an expression of the individual owner and reflect their personalities and quirks. Some are spotless and well organized and others have books randomly stacked on the floor or piled in boxes. Each one provides an interesting experience that cannot be duplicated by downloading a book on your device! If you have visited a memorable used bookstore on your travels, please share it with me. It just may get added to my bucket list!