Last Saturday (August 28th, 2010) my friends, my aunt and I, made our way to Long Beach, CA to take advantage of Acres of Books’ Going Out of Business Final Sale.
Acres of Books was established in 1934 by Mr. Bertrand Smith (1874-1965). He was a book seller in Cincinnati, Ohio, who came out west to start a new book shop. He sold many rare books and used books, often buying from the many bookshops in London’s Charing Cross Road, as well many walk-in sellers.
The bookstore was situated in a warehouse-type building, 150 feet in length. At one point they carried over 1 million books in stock, making them the largest used bookstore in California.
Back then, when business was thriving, the store looked like this:
Sadly, that is no longer the case.
The bookshop has been stripped down to its bare bones–its last remaining wooden shelves in various states of disrepair. The dusty, old books begging for a new lease on life reminded me of lonely dogs and cats in animal shelters, waiting for kind individuals to take them home.
Stacks of vintage crates lined the walls.
We bought one crate for $25, along with two tickets with Maiko’s name scrawled on it. One ticket was taped to our chosen crate, while the other one promptly went into my pocket. We left the crate in the designated area, bringing only the free shopping bag they gave us to put our chosen books in.
I wandered through the dusty (and often dark) aisles, trying to find books whose authors I recognized, and writing books that weren’t too outdated, and fiction books I would actually read.
The bookshop had an entire section just for fiction books:
I felt like we were on a treasure hunt as we tried to find good titles and recognizable authors. At the end of the two hours we spent at the shop, we had shirts caked with dust, a crate full of books and smiles on our faces.
I stared at the big sign printed above the front entrance to the bookshop, as Lena, my aunt Bernadette and I waited for Maiko to bring the car around. I imagined the shop as it used to be years ago. I felt a pang of sorrow for the book shopping experience now forever lost to me and others ,who never had the chance to see the bookshop in its days of glory.
I hate to think of old books just wasting away in the dusty shelves. I could only hope all the books would find new homes to brighten and entertain.
As soon as we got home, we wiped the books clean with a damp cloth and arranged them in their new home:
At the end of the day, we were happy to have saved at least 44 books. Getting them at $25 a crate (along with the free shopping bag and energy-saving light bulb they were giving away) was only a bonus.
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