You approach the small storefront and reach for the door, tugging it open. A sign next to the entrance warns you to close it fast. The smell of aged paper hits immediately, the strength of this aroma only rivaled by the sight that accompanies it.
Stacks upon stacks of books are laid out in the front of the store, and though many of the spines are nondescript, there’s bound to be some good literature tucked away.
The Book Stop on Fourth Avenue may not have the grandeur of most chain bookstores in business today, but it makes up for it with a certain charm that can only be found in used book shops.
In business for over 50 years, The Book Stop, located at 214 N. Fourth Ave., is run by a team of two, Tina Bailey and Claire Fellows, who took over when the original owners decided to sell. This is the shop’s second location, having moved 12 years ago after residing on Campbell Avenue for 40 years.
According to The Book Stop’s website, they describe their inventory as “a wide variety of used, rare, out of print and scholarly books that are obtained, primarily from our well-read customers.”
Hailed as a “browser’s paradise,” The Book Stop prides itself on providing a large collection of diverse readings to look through, aiming to have a little bit of something for everyone. Jumping from shelf to shelf it’s easy to plow through a wide variety of topics, from military history to “Books about Books.”
“If you want something to read and you don’t know what you’re looking for, this is a good place to come,” co-owner Bailey said, standing next to an enormous cash register that still functions.
Old books and cash registers aren’t the only things the shop has to offer.
“We also have a lot of papers, postcards, maps, stuff like that,” Bailey said. Tucked in the corner of the front of the shop are also a few shelves of pottery for sale.
“They have a lot of old stock image art and posters and weird maps and stuff,” said Katiana Coste, a student at the University of Arizona. “We use them to collage.”
Her friend, Phoebe Lopez, agreed.
“They have very interesting stationary,” Lopez said. “I go every three or four months, whenever I can.”
With a chuckle, Lopez added that she “never gets books.”
What is the source of the shop’s appeal, then?
“[The Book Stop] smells good,” Coste said, laughing.
While The Book Stop won’t be doing anything special for Banned Books Week, they are sure to note that the shop offers literature that is hard to obtain for other reasons.
“[We have] a lot of out-of-print books that you can’t get anymore,” Bailey said.
The Book Stop builds their inventory by purchasing from customers, as well as trading. The website notes that they do house calls for very large collections of books.
So, the next time you are cruising down Fourth Avenue, be sure to grab a coffee and hit up The Book Stop to browse through a selection of unique books. For a reasonable price, you may just find a hidden gem.
The Book Stop is open on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday form 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The Book Stop is closed on Tuesdays.