The Phoenix Desert

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The Phoenix Desert

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Modifié : Juin 4, 2011, 11:09am

Phoenix is in a desert. Sadly, Phoenix is also very nearly a cultural desert. With the collapse of the Border's chain (what blind man would have ever seen that coming) and the closing of the Town and Country Bookstar, there are NO bookstores in uptown other than one Half Price Books and one very expensive antiquarian store that, frankly, is not all that good. Although there are a few good shops in Scottsdale, the main one closed several years ago with the death of its proprietor and the proprietor of another is near retirement.

Suggestions? Yes, I have a Kindle and am thinking of purchasing a Nook, but still......

Juin 4, 2011, 11:41am

Central Phoenix is indeed dead to new books. The closure of Borders was a loss. I rather enjoy the Camelback HPB, but stock doesn't turn too quickly. Book Gallery on Indian School is another option for used books. When time permits, I make the trek out to one of the Bookmans, but there's something about that vibe that I don't click to. You can venture even farther out and look for a Barnes and Noble, but it's hardly ever worth the trip.

More and more I resort to Amazon. I inadvertently ended up with a Prime membership (or whatever they call it), so usually things get here quick and with no shipping cost.

P.S. If you think the book end of things is bad, try finding a shop that sells new cds that adults would want to listen to.

Juin 4, 2011, 11:46am

one very expensive antiquarian store that, frankly, is not all that good

I know the one you mean. An oddly antiseptic little place that I timidly venture into about once a year. I never see anything that I would remotely consider buying. Must be a front for some nefarious business. I'd ask, but the proprietor, who apparently has a sixth sense regarding the contents of my bank account, doesn't even look up when I come in.

Juin 4, 2011, 10:21pm

I am going to have to look up Book Gallery. For some reason it doesn't ring a bell as someplace I've ever found anything worthwhile.

I use to be happy in the days before Alcuin's Camelback location got bulldozed for a turnaround station for the light rail and its proprietor moved to a new location in Scottsdale that I have never visited. It was a block and a half from my office, and when I was in one of those "My G_d, I'm going nuts" moods, I could trot over to Alcuin's, have a nice chat with the gentle and intelligent proprietor, and usually buy a book or two. But those days are gone forever. Amazon is a great resource, but it just isn't the same.

The only other bookstore that I know of, other than those we've discussed, is the ratty store on 7th Street just North of Osborn. There is a halfway decent coffee shop in the same "center" where you can download your electronic Amazon purchases via WiFi, but the book store is not worth a visit in itself.

Sad, really sad.

Juin 4, 2011, 10:28pm

Oh ya, Book Gallery. Well, the selection isn't bad and it is only about a mile from my new office, but I've never liked the proprietor. He is an old Randroid, and I have a thing about Rand and Randroids. Also he, for some reason, tried to make trouble between myself and the proprietor of Alcuin's, someone I do, or did, like a lot. It didn't work, but between that attribute and that incident I really don't want to give him my money.

Besides, as I recall there is really no place to sit down and look at a book in his shop. If he'd team up with the coffee shop in the same center, then maybe, but not under present conditions.

Juin 5, 2011, 3:29am

I was in Alcuin's a few months ago, looking for a copy of William of Tyre. I knew the fellow was quirky when I asked him for the Medieval section and he responsed, due to some theological nicety that escapes me, they didn't believe in the concept of "medieval". He was, of course, happy to point me to the history books which lay within certain temporal parameters. Alas, no William.

The shop on 7th, which I have visited a couple of times, is remarkable only in that it is still open. There must be a trust fund involved somewhere, cause they sure ain't making money on the poor selection of books.

I hadn't known that about Book Gallery. They've always given me a fair shake on trades (or as fair as one could expect), and I've found enough rarities, etc. there to keep me going back. There's also a decent Book Gallery down in Mesa, but I've only visited it once.

Any thoughts on Changing Hands? It's too far away to put on my regular rounds, but they have a nice straight up way of stocking the used copies right there with the new. There is (or was) a great shop up in Santa Cruz that does that as well.

Modifié : Juin 26, 2011, 9:15am


Juin 6, 2011, 12:49am

Ya, the proprietor of Alcuin's is quirky, but so am I, so we generally got along fine. As I recall, he is an almost Priest or lapsed Priest or something like that - albeit it has been 7 or 8 years now, so I may have it wrong. In any case, he is bright, quirky and a pleasure to have a nice chat with over obscure topics that would be of zero interest to the rest of the world. As I recall he use to have a couple chairs, a couch and a coffee pot, so it was a really pleasurable retreat from an often less than pleasurable world.

Didn't know there was a second Book Gallery. Actually related or just the same name? It is this one proprietor I'm not thrilled about, so if there is a different shop with a different proprietor, well, then.......

Can't help on Changing Hands. Haven't been in it since it was located in Tempe a decade or more ago.

Although I'm not being much help to you, I hope you'll keep sharing your observations. I've more or less ceased buying dead tree books, but still couldn't reject out of hand something like the Collected Works of Herbert Spencer in quarto with marbled endpapers - the sort of thing I still regret having passed up in Milwaukee 35 years ago. OTOH, my wife would kill me.

Juin 18, 2011, 2:34am

The Poisoned Pen is excellent and I highly recommend it for modern mystery and lit. They have an active authors' group with plenty of signings. I am told T. A. Swinford has Arizona, Western and Custer items but I have not been there. It is a miracle any of them stay in business.

Août 24, 2011, 1:10am

One of the owners of Changing Hands was on Channel 8's HORIZON last night ... talking about the death of Borders, and how the Chain built multiple stores when they entered the Valley in a deliberate attempt to kill off the independents.

Changing Hands was forced by circumstances to leave Tempe, she said, but here they are ... CH's ... helping pick up the pieces.

Août 24, 2011, 8:43am

Don't you think that it is a bit much to describe your competition as engaged in a "deliberate attempt to kill off" your form of business? Did Henry Form intend to "deliberately kill off the horse and buggy" or did he intend to market a product that many people preferred to the horse and buggy?

Juil 16, 2012, 4:00pm

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the VSNA (sp?) Used Booksale every February. Selling around 500,000 books in 2 days, it must be the largest, if not nearly so, booksale in


Juil 16, 2012, 7:53pm

I've heard of it, but I don't have the stamina or stomach for crowds. I used to go to the big yearly book sale in DC, but it was an ordeal.

Juil 16, 2012, 10:18pm

Chuckle.......I stopped going to it for the same reasons. I used to get on line at 3 AM for the 9 AM opening.
That time insured that I would at least get in during the first wave of attendees. Once the place (the size of 2 or 3 supermarkets) was full (read crammed) they controlled the flow at the entrance by the flow of the exits.

It was a madhouse with people just grabbing at rows of books..............


Mai 4, 2016, 10:10am

My favorite is Bookman's in Mesa.

Déc 24, 2016, 8:16am

Changing Hands now has two stores, the big one in Chandler, and the new one in central Phoenix. Really excellent stock, pleasant and knowledgable staff, and some very cool author visits and events. Just sayin'

And yes to Bookmans. I go to the Mesa one, but the one in Phoenix is a fun trip. There are three in Tucson, which says something about the dif between the two cities.

Déc 24, 2016, 10:19am

>16 cindydavid4: I love Changing Hands too!