There’s nothing quite like the charming atmosphere of an old bookstore. It’s difficult to walk in and not immediately feel a wave of comfort wash over you.
A modern bookshop can’t replicate the vibes and many people say picking up an e-reader just doesn’t compare to the pages of a dusty, well-loved book.
Here’s a small guide to get you started. Happy reading.
1349 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids
reduxbooks.com, (616) 742-2665
Back in May 2001, when Redux Books first opened its doors, the shop lined its shelves with roughly 3,000 books from owner Clarence Hogeterp’s personal collection.
“My wife said to me, ‘It’s either you or the books, buddy. Somebody’s got to leave,’” Hogeterp said. “So I thought I’d better get rid of the books.”
Fifteen years later, Redux has expanded its collection to include more than 200,000 books — if you include the online store and warehouse, which Hogeterp’s son runs.
When you step foot into the shop, you’re immediately greeted by that oh-so-sweet book smell and a veritable wall of book-packed shelves. The space may seem small, but down a set of stairs is the basement, lined with even more literary towers.
Redux uniquely specializes in rare, out-of-print and antiquarian books. The shop offers customers the opportunity to purchase first editions, signed copies of their favorites and a whole lot more.
“We have a lot of pretty nice books behind glass” said Hogeterp “Frequently, [customers] have to open those glass doors and see what’s in there. They want to touch it, they want to feel it, they want to interact with it.”
Along with the extra special books, Redux carries a wide variety of paperbacks, textbooks and best sellers. You’ll find biographies, cookbooks, Michigan History books, fantasy books and much more. And Hogeterp does a fair amount of traveling throughout the country to bring books into the shop, so that means inventory is constantly growing and changing.
“People get attached to them. Not just the book, but the literature,” Hogeterp said. “It’s very gratifying, actually, when people buy books, to know that they’re not only interested in the contents but they’re interested in the book itself as an artifact.”
Argos Book Shop
1405 Robinson Road SE, Grand Rapids
argosbooks.com, (616) 454-0111
Just two doors down from Redux Books, Argos Book Shop not only caters to the fellow bookworm, but to the comic book nerd as well.
“We are a fully-stocked used book shop, with books of all kinds,” owner James Bleeker said.
Open since 1975, Argos boasts one of the largest stocks of used comics in town alongside its massive book collection. Search to your heart’s content through piles of old-school comics, graphic novels and newer items.
On the other side of the store, sunlight pours through a large window, illuminating shelf upon shelf of old paperbacks. The store also has a selection of display and storage supplies, so you can keep your precious finds protected (and maybe show them off a little).
bombadilbooks.com, (616) 419-0667
Although Bombadil Books recently closed up shop at its 315 S. Division location, that is by no means the last you’ll see of them. For one thing, the shop is still offering its products and services online while searching for a new location.
The owners of Bombadil Books, Danielle Alexander, 25, and Tim Albon, 27, had simply outgrown the old space on Division.
“We were out of room for books and struggling to fit people in for events and workshops. It was a good problem to have,” Alexander and Albon said. “We’re trying to be pretty particular about finding the perfect space this time around. We want to be in Grand Rapids for the long haul.”
For now, the online shop lets you peruse Bombadil’s collection of used and rare books, zines made by local artists, the couple’s own line of handmade journals, and options for repair and custom cases. Not only can you expand your personal library, but you can have your old favorites revamped and repaired.
“Most of the time, we replace worn and broken covers with new, archival quality ones,” Alexander said. “The books most often have extreme sentimental value, so the reactions their owners have is a bonus of the job.”
Alexander and Albon are hoping to have a new location by the new year. Keep an eye out!