80,000 Books

That’s how many books Paperbacks Unlimited says they have.  I, for one, believe them.  Their store is in a converted one-story, 1960’s-era house and they tore out walls to create three large rooms filled with shelving and books

            The Sig-O’s mom, Anne, loves this used book store.  We went there one Monday last month, as a treat.  We each brought a couple of bags of books to trade.  Paperbacks Unlimited does not buy used books.  They give you a store credit for each book they take.  They are a business, not a lending library.  You must pay 30%, plus sales tax of your total in cash.  Since their price is usually 50% or less of the cover price, if you have book credit, a book with a cover price of $5.95 will cost you about $1.15 cash.  That’s a deal.

            If you read mysteries, thrillers or romance novels, you will feel like your soul has found a home.  If, like me, you favor fantasy and/or science fiction, you won’t feel quite that embraced, but the welcome will still be warm, with the one room that is 80% devoted to those two genres.  Nonfiction, appropriately, has an alcove in the science fiction and fantasy room.  Horror gets a wall to itself.

 (If you bring in fantasy/sf to trade, your credit is only good for fantasy/sf.  It’s like they think if you bring in a copy of John Crowley’s Little, Big, and wanted to use credit for a Danielle Steele novel, you’d somehow be trading up.  <Sigh.> Still in the ghetto.)

            Literary fiction and literature also has a room to itself, the first room you step into if you park in the back, where there is more room, and come up the back stairs. It looks like it was part of the original floorplan.

Anne reads certain series authors, and she makes out a list before we come, then spends the time gleefully searching the shelves. She now takes requests from other people, like her older son, and scours the place for certain Clive Cussler titles. 

            For people who make fantasy/sf stay in its room, the owners have given the romance sub-genre “Paranormal Romance” the run of the place.  You can barely turn around without tripping over one.  What is Paranormal Romance?  It’s something we all should have seen coming; a romance-novel structure where one or both members of the couple is supernatural.  Not a ghost, of course, because they’re incorporeal.  Where’s the fun in that?  No, we’re talking werewolves, vampires, shape-shifters, witches/wizards/ warlocks, mer-people (I’m not sure how a human actually achieves intercourse with a mer-person, but maybe I’m being too technical), angels, fallen angels, and my personal favorite, nephalim.  Nephalim, right out of Genesis, are half human, half angel. Unless you already read romance novels, do not expect these books to thrill you. These aren’t stories of the fantastical. The fantastical element is there to provide the thrilling sense of forbidden that is needed to make the sex (or almost-sex) so very torrid.

            Paperbacks Unlimited has been around for at least 35 years.  I remember many, many years ago going there and stocking up on –I swear this is what they were—Ace Double sci-fi fantasy.  These were two slim novels or more likely long novellas, in one volume, and I think to get to the second one, you had to flip the book over.  Gosh, weren’t the nineteen-seventies great?

The store is located at 4625 Sonoma Highway (Hwy 12) in Santa Rosa. If you are coming through Santa Rosa on Highway 12 you have to make a U-turn to get into it. Booker, the store cat, is a little too elderly to greet you at the door, but you will probably find him lying in the nearest patch of sun.  Bring a couple of big shopping bags, allow yourself at least two hours, and prepare to have a great time.


Paperbacks Unlimited also has a large selection of audio books for your listening enjoyment.

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