I just can’t help myself when I pass a book store. I have to stop and peruse and I almost always end up taking a book home. But I have limited shelf space at home and that’s why I love used book stores. You can buy a bunch for cheap, and then come back and sell the ones you’re done with.
Charlotte’s blessed with a number of these spots. Here’s how they work.
This place (opened in 1999) has a tremendous location that’s hopping on the weekends, but luckily they have a few dedicated spaces. High-quality discount racks outside and a cool vibe inside. They also host cats that need new owners, and you’ll see them around the store. Besides books, they’ve got some gifts and pet stuff. In general, books are going to be half of the cover price or less, with hardbacks significantly less (usually $5 to $6). Newer books will run about $10. Your used book trade-in will get you 25 percent in store credit. You might be able to get cash if you have a good enough book that the owners know they’ll sell that day.
Location: Plaza Midwood (1306 The Plaza)
The Book Rack
This is a no-frills book store in an otherwise unassuming shopping center. Some good selections on the outside bargain racks where things go 3 for $1. I picked up “A Walk in the Woods” the other day there. Your trade-ins will net you 1/4 of the price the store will set in store credit. How you use that credit is somewhat complicated (see photo below). Most paperbacks will run in the $2 to $7 range, but new books will be more expensive. A new copy of “Go Set a Watchman” was going for $22.
Location: South Charlotte (10110 Johnston Road)
The Last Word
It’s kind of hard to get to right now because of construction and traffic, but that will soon change because they’re moving to a new location on North Tryon. They do a lot of different things besides books, including vinyl, Magic the Gathering cards, video games and other electronics. They’re not paying cash for books until they move, but generally will pay 20 percent of the store’s price in cash, or 50 percent in store credit (it’s a higher percentage for the electronic stuff). This spot has the added incentive of doing textbook exchanges for UNC Charlotte students. Bonus coffee bar and dedicated work space. It also had the largest children’s section that I saw.
Location: University City (230 E. WT Harris Boulevard now, 5744 North Tryon starting in November)
Other good book places
It’s hard not to talk about used books without mentioning Julia’s Cafe & Books on Wendover Road. Their coffee is incredible, they’ve got Bruks Bars and it’s a great meeting spot. They only take book donations, however. Money goes to support Habitat for Humanity.
Some Charlotte Mecklenburg Library locations also have regular book sales that have great selection. I’ve picked up a biography on Hugh McColl, “Water for Elephants” and “Empire Falls” just in the past few weeks.
(Photo credit: Julia’s Cafe photo comes from their Facebook page)