Philadelphians Message Board


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Philadelphians Message Board

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1jillmwo Primer missatge
jul. 26, 2006, 9:13am

I work in Center City Philadelphia but live in Delaware County. I'm looking for good second-hand (but not necessarily rare-book) book shops. I am aware of one in Swarthmore, but are we otherwise dependent upon library book sales?

jul. 26, 2006, 10:25am

Thanks to killearnan for making this group. I was just about to make one myself.

To jillmwo: I too work in the city, although in Old City. Some of my favorite used bookstores include Big Jar Books (on 2nd Street between Market & Arch), the Book Trader (2nd & Market) and The Last Word (Walnut between 39th & 40th). There are plenty of other used bookstores in town, but I frequent those most because of proximity and excellence.

jul. 26, 2006, 10:34am

I live out in the wilds of Chester County, so I don't get into Center City as much as when I lived in East Falls. Imagine that (grin!).

There used to be a good used book store on Fairmount, near the Eastern State Penitentiary. Is that still there?

jul. 26, 2006, 11:24am

Many thanks for the information! I wasn't aware of any of those and I might well want to come into the city on a weekend to visit those and see what's in stock!

jul. 26, 2006, 3:45pm

Glad to help another biblihiolic along.

Heading in the other direction, Walter Amos (at Rtes. 10 and 23) in Morgantown is a nice end to a drive.

If you want to go even further out, there's a couple nice used book stores in Lancaster as well.

6Yfandes Primer missatge
jul. 27, 2006, 8:20am I the only Jersey Gal on here? :)

jul. 27, 2006, 8:48am

Given the number of Jersey folks who commute into Philly on a regular basis, I'm sure that more will show up eventually. But to answer your question directly, based on what I'm reading on group member blogs, you are in fact the only one so far from Jersey...

8queenofthejungle Primer missatge
jul. 27, 2006, 10:37am

killearnan, the bookstore in Fairmount is called Bookhaven & yes, they are still open for business! They're located at 2202 Fairmount, closed on Mondays.

I also like House of Our Own in West Philly, at 3920 Spruce St. They have new books (in the front) and used books (in the back & upstairs).

Is there, um, anyone on this list who's actually from Philadelphia? I live & work in University City.

jul. 28, 2006, 8:57am

Bookhaven. Drated memory (all external these days......if something isn't on paper in front of me, it isn't in my memory!). Why couldn't I remember that? But the shop definitely worth a visit.

I used to live and work in Philadelphia but lives change ;-)

jul. 28, 2006, 5:56pm

Have any of you looked at the group zeitgeist yet? There are no works that leap out as a majority of us all owning, but it seems as if we might each have one or two titles in common with some others in the group. I noticed that killearnan and I share books like A Testament of Devotion while thecardiffgiant and I share an interest in one or two titles by Trollop. Anybody else?

And what do you know - the Touchstones stuff really works....

11bridgetemob Primer missatge
jul. 29, 2006, 12:21am

I definitely second the recommendations of Big Jar and Book Trader, though I miss Book Trader's South St location... In Center City there's Hibberd's at 13th and Walnut, and I believe Robin's on 13th sells used books. There's also a Friends of the Free Library secondhand store next to the Central branch at 20th and Wood.

And I'm actually from the city -- but I'm moving up to Cambridge in a month!

12labbit440 Primer missatge
jul. 31, 2006, 12:06am

Hi! I live in Spring City, which is around the center of Chester County. I can recommend two used bookstores. The Bookworm in Phoenixville, PA (I once volunteered there regularly, now only from time to time) and Indian Path Books in Spring City. Indian Path is right on Route 23, and the Bookworm is as well, nestled onto the Phoenixville Hospital's property.

mmmm.... books

jul. 31, 2006, 12:08pm

I too am actually from Philadelphia: right now I live in Powellton Village.

14asallan Primer missatge
jul. 31, 2006, 12:58pm

There's also the Title Page in Rosemont/Bryn Mawr--it's right across the street from Borders. Rather cramped shop, but nice people and a wide array of books.

I'm in Berks County for the summer, but go to school at Villanova.

ag. 1, 2006, 6:24pm

asallan, I hope you noted that there was a St. Joe's student here, too? I may have been the last person in the Philadelphia area to learn that St. Joe's and Villanova are great rivals!

ag. 1, 2006, 8:47pm

Walk a Crooked Mile in Mount Airy is a good used bookstore.

After a several-year absence, Famulus has opened up again, this time on (I think) South 20th Street.

ag. 2, 2006, 1:01pm

I hadn't noticed that, jillmwo. But of course I looked closer at the members list and saw the hawk--while I do love Wildcats basketball, I cheered for St. Joe's when they were undefeated the other year: always like to see Philly/PA do well, even if we are in the "holy war," although this year's was a nailbiter.

set. 18, 2006, 9:11pm

I live in South Philly, work in Center City. I just recently discovered that second hand store run by the Friends of the Free Library. It is INCREDIBLE! They even have separate sections of first editions and signed copies. I had to stop myself from spending my whole paycheck there... I like Big Jar and the Book Trader also, and a trip to NYC is not complete without stopping by The Strand.

I only have (most of) my fiction up on my LT right now, I have a lot more non-fiction but need time to put it up. I'm in library school right now and it's pretty hectic between that and a full-time job.

set. 19, 2006, 12:27pm

mcurran, where is the Friends of the Free Library store? Is it in the main branch?

20verbivore Primer missatge
Editat: set. 23, 2006, 5:00pm

If you have a car, try Baldwin's Book Barn out in West Chester -- though how you get your books home after you've just hocked your car (and anything else substantial that you might own) in order to have enough walking-around money to satiate yourself there poses an interesting philosophical quandary.

Famulus Books is actually at 22nd and Rittenhouse -- pocket-sized and sweet.

There's also Last Word Bookshop at 3925 Walnut in West Philly.

BTW, the Free Library store mentioned in Message 11, it's south of the Starbucks/Whole Foods area on 20th.

set. 25, 2006, 3:21pm

thanks, verbivore. I'm not familiar with that area down around the Whole Foods--I can see how I missed it. I'll be heading over there any day now...

gen. 31, 2007, 4:56pm

I live and work in UCity as well. Just wanted to note that the Last Word Bookshop is no longer at 3925 Walnut, it's around the corner on S. 40th between Walnut and Locust.

maig 28, 2007, 9:07am

I live in Fairmount/Spring Garden, and I'm lucky enough to live within a short walk of Bookhaven. I couldn't believe my good fortune the first time I came across it!

24jengoria Primer missatge
oct. 19, 2007, 11:22am

New to the group, just wanted to introduce myself. I work in University City and live in Fishtown. I think the used book store scene in Philly is pretty vibrant, but I'm not sure if there are any others I'd add to this list. I miss Hibbards on Walnut, it closed with so little warning.

des. 13, 2007, 9:42pm

I live in West Philly and work at the University Museum. It's too bad W.H. Allen's isn't still in Rittenhouse Square; does anyone know if they're still up and running on Chester Pike?

des. 14, 2007, 3:19am

Wow, I fail at introductions - I thought I'd done one already. By the way, dandiffendale - I love the Museum :)

I'm in UCity, having gone to Penn for my undergrad and now Drexel for my MLIS. Though I'm an infrequent vistor, I admit a fondness for the Free Library's books for free :)

gen. 25, 2008, 9:00am

It's time for an introduction, I suppose. I live in the general vicinity of Pottstown, just over the Chester county border into Montgomery. I've scouted out a few used book shops throughout the area, even finding a few on the Main Line, but my favorite was mentioned way back in post #12 - Indian Path books, in the middle of nowhere on route 23.

Indian Path is one of those places that smells like books when you walk in. It has that lovely aroma of yellowing paper and aged binding that simply cannot be replicated, not to mention a marvelous selection.

feb. 14, 2008, 12:10pm

what is the location in Swarthmore -- GW often gets some good books -- timing though is everything -- really miss getting them by the container down in Delaware -- sigh those were the good old days --

feb. 14, 2008, 12:18pm

oops forgot to make an introduction -- live in Chester county with the passion of our lives -- our doggie brigade -- with books (vegetarian and chocolate cookbooks and dog titles) and digital photography coming in second and third -- work two part time jobs (one for household and other for doggies) to oversee a non-profit rescue --

if anyone might be interested in swapping books plmk know

des. 21, 2010, 3:09pm

The best used bookstore I have ever seen is in New Egypt NJ, it is called the "Book Garden", on Rt 537

des. 22, 2010, 11:55am

There used to be huge used book store (40 years ago) on 9th St, I think, 1-2 blocks south of Market St. Unfortunately, I can't remember its name.

Editat: jul. 19, 2011, 1:23pm

>31 vpfluke: vpfluke:

I know about several bookstores in that area, so I set out around noon today to refresh my memory.

I don't think it was literally where you said on S 9th -- that has been Jefferson hospital buildings for quite some time.

Maybe Russakoff's, just north of Spruce on S. 10th? That recently was renamed to Mostly Books by a son of Mr. Russakoff. It was not a huge store though (if you are in the neighborhood, stop in at Kanella's at 10th and Spruce for some fine Greek-Cypriot food).

What about Robin's at 103A S. 13th? This used to be at 103 S. 13th, but Larry Robin sold off all the new books last year and now sells used books from upstairs.

There was Hibberd's on Walnut near 12th, but it closed a few years ago.

I think you most likely mean Read More books at 1229 Walnut St. All that remains now is a sign painted on the wall at 104 S. 11th. The sign used to be complete, but part of it was removed and there is a door for a Milkboy there now (this is next to Baum's, which is mentioned in The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri).

Going around the corner to 1229 Walnut St. I see no sign of the store any more. That location is now a Modern Eye store. There used to be a sign for the store in the 2nd story window above what is now the Portofino restaurant, but that window looks vacant now.

The gentleman behind the counter at Robin's (nearly as old as I) said the Read More was owned by a Mr. Bagleman (not sure of the spelling).

Well, this must be more than anybody wants to know about this store, but it made for a nice walk in only 90 degrees F today.

jul. 19, 2011, 6:39pm


I racked my brain and did a little search in Google Books, and the name of the bookstore I think was Leary's, and I'm pretty sure it was on 9th Street (east side). It was kind of a thin building. but it had at least 5 floors of books, and most claimed that it was the largest used bookstore in Philly. I am pretty sure that it did not survive 1980. I most remember it from college days in the 1960's in Philadelphia.

jul. 19, 2011, 6:43pm

Gosh, I found a Wikipedia article on Leary's (link:'s_book_store ). It closed in 1969, and it had only 3 stories above ground, but did have a basement selection. It was just south of Gimbels on 9th.

Editat: jul. 19, 2011, 6:50pm

Another bookstore I remember was Charles Sessler. It was located on Walnut Street near 13th St. It sold new books, with nothing at a discount. It was posh, somewhat like Rizzoli (more like the Chicago store, rather than the New York store). It was more Mainline than Italian, though.

jul. 19, 2011, 6:56pm

I'm on a roll for old Philly stores. Another bookstore, whose name I can't even begin to remember, was located on the westside of 13th St between Market and Arch. What was most unique about was that only one copy of each book was on the shelf, with a slip in it (author/title). When you bought the book, the slip was given to a runner, who then went into the basement, and brought up another copy to be placed in the empty spot on the shelf. This store had the fastet restocking of inventory of anyplace I've ever shopped.

jul. 19, 2011, 7:25pm

Another store I remember was H. Royer Smith Co, which sold records, and I also had a monthly publication called "New Records" published until 1987. West of Broad, maybe Locust or Walnut St. A great place for old records, and obscure records. I usually shopped at Sam Goody's, which seems to me was on Walnut just east of Broad (memory vague on this one), and not to far from the old Academy of Music.

jul. 24, 2011, 12:27pm

I really love Port Richmond books, though it's quite a bit out of my way. It's wonderfully massive and the prices are pretty low for paperbacks.

Closer to home are Molly's in the Italian Market, which is small but has a very good selection. House of Our Own in University City is a great place for non fiction, politics, and female or African American authors. It's the only place I've found any Ishmael Reed! Also out west is The Last Word, which is large, well lit, and friendly.

There are a lot more cool shops within the city, but those are my regular stops.

nov. 1, 2011, 4:50pm

Ditto on Port Richmond books - my husband and I visited there a few years ago, and spent (what was then) a small fortune on excellent books. His selection is marvelous, particularly if you happen to be a theology geek, and very reasonably priced.

des. 26, 2011, 11:24pm

The best used book store in Philadelphia was William H. Allen Booksellers on Walnut Street. Mr. Allen was one of the last true used booksellers and bibliophiles of the old school. The Title Page in Bryn Mawr is also a great place to visit. Over 30,000 books in all categories and the owner is a wonderful lady with a thorough knowledge of books. It is truly an experience.

jul. 6, 2012, 6:26pm

40>> Tag fairy: The Title Page. If you're looking for it, it's on the north side of Lancaster Avenue immediately east of the old Borders, right behind Peace-A-Pizza. It's not directly visible from the highway.

There are two to check out in Doylestown, Bucks County Bookshop and Central Books, both sharing the same building, directly across the hall from each other, and even sharing the same credit-card machine. One of them is old and rare while the other is used but more recent titles.

I see someone's already mentioned House of Our Own on the U of PA campus, but I tag-fairied it.