, PHOTO COURTESY BY SFGATE.COM
In the age of online shopping, championed by behemoth Amazon, there is still plenty to be said about buying a new (or used) book in a store. Bookshops can be a fun outing or hang out place where one can browse books. Or, rather than typing one particular title into a search engine, one can discover books they might have otherwise never known about.Luckily, there is a nice selection of bookstores in Marin, ranging from small second-hand sellers on San Anselmo Avenue, to large warehouses full of new books in almost every major town in Marin.
Book Passage: Located in a strip mall between a DMV and an artisan Bundt cake shop, space is a bit odd.
The store is in two separate buildings, and the main space feels a bit like a semi-circle.The selection is average, The nicest part about the store is the abundance of windows, though they all face a parking lot. The best thing to be said about this store is that they are a good venue for speakers, 6/10
Booksmith: Despite the small location, this store packs in quite an inventory. It is a second-hand bookstore, so selection varies wildly.
Aisles are remarkably narrow, by estimation no more than a foot and a half. Windows are only located by the front, making lighting feel limited even on a sunny day.
There were a small handful of seating options, from normal chairs, to the germ-ridden kid’s section. A nice local store, this place is perfectly adequate. 6/10
Copperfields: Having three locations in Marin, they make up a good portion of the bookstore variety. San Rafeal hosts an exspansive selection in a premium dowtown location, but the interior is a bit dull. The Novato location has a bright corner spot again in the downtown area, windows wrap around most of the storefront, showcasing their stock. Overall, these locations have a good variety and location, but due to the interiors and seating, they both score 7/10 However, their newest location at Larkspur Landing is my absolute favorite. Occupying a space formerly known as Diesel Books, the new store is small but has a charming wooden interior with built-in shelves, and a large fireplace accented by wing chairs. The selection is smaller due to space, but overall seems to have more niche picks. Among the shelves, I saw at least half the books on the New York Times bestsellers list, small guides to garden-variety flowers, and special edition Puffin in Bloom copies of beloved children’s classics, with colorful floral designs. 9/10
Heldfond Book Gallery: Due to the egregious San Anselmo commercial real estate market, this store is just a small narrow strip on the far end of San Anselmo Avenue.
The interior can feel extremely claustrophobic when looking up at the tall shelves and windows display merchandise.
Of course, they advertise themselves as detailing “fine and rare books”, and that cannot be emphasized enough. The store has on odd quality of charm, perhaps because a location seemingly so small seems to offer a decent selection. Among the eclectic selection were good old classics such as War on the White Slave Trade and Barbie’s Secret (yes, about the plastic doll), personal favorite was I Need The Money. But hey, don’t judge a book by its cover. 7/10
Barnes and Noble: While the location is average, the interior lackluster, and counters ever understaffed, this bookstore remains my favorite for its extensive selection and friendly employees (when you can find them). Space is larger than other stores, and offers amenities such as a cafe to rival any airport, and a DVD section, for those who still buy DVDs.
They also publish Barnes and Noble classics that go for as little as $6 paperback, $10 hardcover. They have an extensive selection of titles, including ones I have not seen published anywhere else.
The sale section is notably large, as are the game and gift sections. 9/10
There are plenty of bookstorea in Marin, so you have no excuses, put down your cellphones and pick up a darn book.