All good readers know one should never flip to the last page. Yet that is exactly what reactionary headlines have been doing by prophesizing the death of bookstores. Although it is true that large chains such as Borders have perished, recent years have actually seen a resurgence of independent bookstores nationwide, proving that the end might not be so nigh after all. Here are but four of the nearly 30 bookstores in Sarasota.
Parker’s Books & Book Bazaar
1488 Main St, Sarasota, FL 34236
Located in Downtown Sarasota for more than 30 years, A. Parker’s Books offers a wide selection of scholarly, rare and antiquarian books, in addition to vintage maps and art prints. A decade ago, A. Parker’s merged with then neighboring Book Bazaar and now the Sarasota location houses both shops beneath one roof.
The bookstore maintains a rare book room where customers can delight in finely bound titles and many first editions, but if the price tags seem too high there is always the rest of the store, which offers an extensive array of used, out-of-print books.
Looking for a unique gift or an addition to a thesis bibliography? You just might find it here with help from Parker’s knowledgeable staff.
Friends of the Library Bookstore
1331 1st St, Sarasota, FL 34236
Tucked away inside the Selby Public Library in Downtown Sarasota, the Friends Bookstore stocks its shelves with local donations, featuring a varied selection of lightly used titles.
Students taking a foreign language may get lucky in the bookstore’s foreign language section, which offers multiple shelves of dictionaries, conjugation manuals and classic titles in French, German, Spanish, and other languages.
Among the bookstore’s quirks is a healthy selection of cd’s, VHS’s and, of course, records. Glass shelves also display “baubles, bling and other non-book donated items.” The bookstore offers daily sales on all items and rare jewelry and small trinkets can be purchased at bargain prices.
Bibliophiles looking to empty their own shelves may also drop off donations at the Selby Public Library. The bookstore is staffed by volunteers and proceeds benefit the library, its programs and the community. Hours are 10:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., Monday through Saturday.
4225 14th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205
Those looking for a more traditional bookstore setup – complete with a café courtesy of Joe Muggs – will find it at the second largest bookstore chain in the U.S.: Books-A-Million. The store has two locations in the area, the closest one of which is located in Bradenton.
Books-A-Million sells the most up-to-date new releases in books, music and movies and has its own range of bargain classics for $2.97.
The store’s main draw is its bargain section of $1 comic books located at the back of the store. “We own a company called 2nd and Charles up in Georgia and we get all our used stock from them,” Customer Service Representative Sara Murray said.
For a $25 yearly membership fee their Millionaire’s Club members receive free shipping on online orders as well as a 10 percent in-store discount, among other perks.
Something About a Book
3251 17th St, Unit 90, Sarasota, FL 34235
Touting itself as Sarasota’s “coolest used bookstore,” the mom-and-pop Something About a Book sells all their used books for half the retail price or less. The inventory consists mostly of paperbacks and fiction, with new releases up front.
Run by the Spencer family, the bookstore’s emphasis is on shopping local and promoting the area’s talent. They display local artists’ work in the store and promote local author’s through book signings.
Something About a Book allows customers to trade in titles in exchange for store credit. They accept new or used books based on condition and current inventory needs.
Hours are 10-3 Mondays through Saturdays.