Support Local San Diego Bookshops

UntitledBibliophiles fear the day when brick-and-mortar stores are phased out and e-books rule the market. Those of us addicted to collecting paper books and maintaining our bookshelves know that the age of the book is not dying; rather, books are fast moving to the digital sphere. And we don’t like it. Regardless of the benefits offered by technology, our nostalgic hearts yearn for the smell of worn pages and the sensation of flipping through a thick volume – neither of which can be fulfilled by e-readers.

I am not alone in that I still prefer a printed, paper book to the now popular e-book devices (Kindles, iPads, or Amazon Readers). Though the industry is quickly shifting from paper to electronically based products and transactions, the book is not dying.

Publishers are receiving as many, if not more, submissions than ever before. The digital age has made submitting as well as obtaining texts easier than ever. There are now multitudes of ‘free’ catalogs and databases online, where students can access classic books, poems, and even sometimes textbooks for free, or for a fee.

However, with the advent of e-books, and with Amazon’s competitive pricing, local and independent bookstores suffer. As bibliophiles, we must continue to support local bookish businesses and authors.

 “The traditional brick-and-mortar bookstore simply can’t survive in the age of online book selling.”

Barnes and Noble remains one of the only brick-and-mortar giants in the literary industry that is still able to compete with Amazon (having pushed out the Borders chain in 2010). Barnes & Noble is holding its own against Amazon with their books-and-more strategy that relies on the sale of toys and educational games, despite their falling sales and rising debts.

Compared to online retailers, bookstores present a frustrating consumer experience. A physical store inevitably offers a smaller selection, can present no customer reviews, and require physically searching individual titles yourself or with a salesperson. Even though shops typically catalog their books in a search engine, customers must know exactly what they want – there are no ‘similar recommendations’ in bookstores. On the other hand, Amazon can suggest books to you based on others you’ve read, and even memorizes your preferences to tailor your experience. In the past, the advantage that bookstores had over online retailers was that you could read any book before you purchased it. But in the age of the e-book, digitization commonly allows online customers to sample the first chapter or selected pages.

Amazon has made it easier for unknown authors to have the opportunity to publish or self publish their books, however, with the multitude of self-published e-books, many get lost in the masses. Barnes and Noble, on the other hand, runs a more exclusive publishing program. However, if one can jump through the hoops, anyone who is published and promoted through Barnes and Noble is bound to sell-out. As a former employee, I can see benefits and drawbacks of both the major publishers.

Local bookshops offer something to the community that Barnes and Nobles’ corporate chains overlook: local engagement. Whereas Barnes and Noble corporate makes decisions on who to publish and what to advertise, in store and online, local business owners have total control over what they stock in their own independent stores. At Barnes and Noble, corporate policy mandates each store to be a cookie-cutter version of the flagship. Across the nation, book displays are the same, meaning that those who make it to the top are bound to be seen and purchased in-store, but other authors are shortchanged. Local sellers have the ability to make their own rules, which fosters better engagement on a local level and allows for more variety in-store.

Below, we have compiled a list of some of the best and brightest Bookshops in San Diego. With the sad closures of some of our favorite local shops, Fifth Avenue Books and Nina’s Books, we wanted to take a moment to shout-out some of our favorite local bookshops. Thanks for holding it down.

An independent bookstore specializing in theology (religious texts), philosophy & history, along with many other subjects. The store offers a large selection of American History and Western Americana, Military History, Literary Criticism, Shakespeare Studies, Art and Architecture, Mystery and Science Fiction, Jewish Studies, Eastern Religions, and Cook Books. Only a fraction of our inventory (less than 10%) is cataloged for online sale and browse-able through their website. One of the highlights of Adams Avenue Bookstore are the cats: Bartlebey (left) and Felixia (right) roam freely throughout the stacks, looking for pets while you browse.            3502 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116 | Wed. 12–8PM; Th-Sat. 10AM-6PM; Sun. 12-5PM; Mon-Tues. 10AM-6PM | (619) 281-3330.

Bright retailer stocking a broad range of fiction & non-fiction books for kids & adults. 
A “brick-n-mortar” REAL BOOKSHOP since 1967, Blue Stocking Books intends to carry on the full-service neighborhood bookshop customs and traditions:
where magical life-changing books are discovered, toddlers squeal in delight at the sight of a book they recognize, old friends strolling together find common loves in literature & history, true loves meet and dogs sit politely for a treat. They stock mostly used books and are happy to order both new and used books upon request. 3817 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 | Mon – Thurs 11am-7pm; Fri & Sat 9am-9:30pm; Sun 9am-5pm | (619) 296-1424
Related imageA used-book store selling (& buying) anything literary, from classic titles, to comics & magazines, plus DVDs, CDs & games. They run a website that boasts stores in California, Hawaii, and New York, as well as Amazon and E-bay, but the San Diego store specializes in magazines, comics, and games. 4240 Kearny Mesa Rd #128, San Diego, CA 92111 | Open daily 10AM–8PM | (858) 627-9600
Image result for crown books san diegoCrown Books *CLOSED*
Crown Books is an independent retailer of new and used books in Southern California with a full line of discounted books ranging from classics to comics, history to current events. As a family-owned business, they offer a personal touch to all of our sales and transactions. The store is happy to accept donations, trades, and will even buy books from you for cash value. 9921 Carmel Mountain Rd #208, San Diego, CA 92129 | (424) 389-0829

Footnote Books has been dedicated to buying and selling book-ish ephemera since 1991. Selling premium used books Carry a selection of most subjects; History, Military History (hundreds of Osprey titles) Social Sciences, Cooking, Art, Photography, General and Classic Fiction, Science Fiction, Graphic Novels, Poetry, Drama, Literature, Paper Ephemera. Located at the former site of the legendary comic shop Comic Kingdom started by Comic Con co-founder Richard Alf in 1975. 1627 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 | Wed.-Mon 10:30AM–8PM | (619) 294-8455

Image result for kobey's swapKobey’s outdoor market is a place to find bargains and unique items. As San Diego’s biggest outdoor market, it is bargain-hunter’s paradise drawing more than 1,000 sellers and 20,000 shoppers weekly. Kobey’s is a great place to find affordable, used books. With multitudes of vendor booths to sift through, it is hard to leave the swap meet without having found something of interest. Every week is a different experience, and vendors are constantly bringing in new finds. You can always print coupons for $1 entry from home, or find them in the Free San Diego Readers. FREE Readers can be found at 7/11, AM/PM, Circle K, Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs, Stater Bros., and CVS. Call us at 619-235-3000 for other locations.3500 Sports Arena Blvd., San Diego, CA 92110 | 619-226-0650 | Fri – Sun 7 a.m. – 3 p.m

As one of the premier used bookstore in San Diego, Maxwell’s House of Books is well worth the drive from anywhere in the county. The minute you walk through the doors, you’re instantly transported by the written word. Whether you want to get lost in a Christie mystery, a Shakespearean drama, an academic jewel, a scintillating romance, a rare, signed author copy, or simply want to spend a quiet afternoon reminiscing about the first time you discovered Joyce, Faulkner, or your favorite author, Maxwell’s House of Books is there to take you back to the days when the smell and touch of a great book made the experience all the more enjoyable. More than 30,000 used books stock the shelves of this shop, focusing on art, history, math & more. 8285 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, CA 91941 | Tues.-Sat. 10AM–6PM; Sun. 10Am-5PM | (619) 462-3387
Martians, Murder, Magic and Mayhem (with occasional Masks, Matchmaking, and Munchkins). Mysterious Galaxy is an specialty independent bookstore founded in 1993, catering to fans of genre fiction such as mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Mysterious Galaxy is passionate about creating and maintaining a community of readers, authors, and booksellers. 5943 Balboa Ave #100, San Diego, CA 92111 | Mon.-Thurs. 10AM–7PM; Fri. 10AM-8PM; Sat. & Sun. 10AM-5PM | (858) 268-4747
Carrying a wide selection of titles, this shop buys, sells & trades previously owned books. I have “a little bit of everything” and quite a large “Mishmash” section. Listed below are the main categories of books I have. Pennywise always offers carts full of $1 paperback deals. 1331 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 | Tues-Sat 10AM–5PM | (858) 270-1640
Verbatim Books is a used and rare bookstore which features a wide and eclectic range of gently-loved and antiquarian books. They carry new titles from over 60 local authors, as well as popular best-sellers, and host poetry mic nights on Wednesday’s. The store’s zine corner is full of stuff made by local zine and chapbook creators, as well as some of the best from distributors such as Pioneers Press, Microcosm Publishing, John Porcellino, Retrofit Comics, Tiny Splendor, and more! Lots of new stock every day, too!Image result for verbatim books san diego ca
3793 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104 | Open daily 10AM–7PM | (619) 501-7466
Warwick’s is the oldest continuously family-owned and operated bookstore in the United States. In addition to books they offer stationery, gifts & facilitate weekly author readings and book signings. Sign up for the newsletter (email) and don’t be afraid to play chess on the board out front – in the newsletter, the owner features a different pair caught playing chess in passing every week! 7812 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037 | Mon.-Sat. 9AM-6PM; Sun. 10AM-5:30PM  | (858) 454-0347
 What are some of your favorite local bookshops? Let us know in the comments below!

Did you like this? Read our post on California Public Libraries Here!

6 Replies to “Support Local San Diego Bookshops”

  1. This is awesome. There are so many bookstores in San Diego that I didn’t know about. Where I live, we only got a Barnes & Noble. We used to have a couple of used book stores, but they went under a couple of years ago. The saddest thing ever. I love the experience of going into a bookstore. There’s nothing like being surrounded by books. That being said, the biggest factor for me is pricing and it’s hard to beat online pricing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. maybe your area has a few little free libraries? public libraries also sometimes have book sales, there are a few here in San Diego that do! I’ve also been finding some great reads at Goodwills and swap meets. But I agree, the ineternet has made book buying easy, and I really respect the pricing. But I still will always and forever love brick and mortar bookstores the most!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post! I’m not worried that paper books will disappear. I think the market for them has stabilized. Plus studies are always coming out showing that you focus more and read more deeply when reading a print book rather than an ebook. So I imagine the death of print was announced prematurely. Good thing we have all these fabulous bookstores to check out now!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had no idea Nina’s had closed! That breaks my heart, I have many fond memories of visiting that store. And you were the one who introduced it to me! I LOVE Book Off! When I lived in Kearny Mesa for a few months, it was the most convenient place to purchase thrifted novels. I knocked so many classics off my list at that store! I was also able to sell many of my unwanted books to them for a great price. I hope they’re able to make it through these tough times for local bookstores. Nothing compares to the feeling and the smell of a book in your hands; it’s indescribable joy. The ease of technology could never produce a similar response from readers.

    As much as I love the convenience, the selection, and the vastness of Barnes and Noble, I’m sad that it’s driving smaller stores out of business. I was always a bigger fan of Borders back in the day, as their rewards program was free and I felt the staff had a bit of a friendlier vibe. It’s been closed for seven years now, and I still long for it to reopen. Doesn’t help that there is a closed Borders down the street from my house that still has the sign up!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: