Monday, July 27, 2015

Moe's Books - Berkeley, CA

Moe's Books - Berkeley, CA
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Readers, if you enjoy visiting college towns like Boulder, CO, Madison, WI, or Iowa City, IA, you will love your visit to Berkeley, CA.  The town and area where Moe's Books is located very much reminds me of these aforementioned towns with their unique shops, cafes, restaurants, and energetic atmosphere.  Many college towns have great independent bookstores and Berkeley is no different.  Moe's Books has been an iconic presence since 1959 on Telegraph Ave. and now that I've been there I can see why.  

Some bookstores that I visit I can look in the front door, snap a few pictures, and I'm done (Well, I'm not really that fast.  I can spend a lot of time even in the smallest stores).  Not so at Moe's.  In this place you'll need a plan and I'm going to give it to you.  There are 4 floors of books here.  The lower level from the mezzanine entrance are mostly new books.  Levels 2-4 are all used books.  I took the elevator to 4 and started to work my way down and that was my plan of attack.  The 4th floor includes non-fiction and a very nice antiquarian and rare book room.  Collectors will want to check this room out and books in the fine arts are especially strong here.  The 3rd floor was a large floor with more non-fiction and many "how-to" books.  The 2nd floor had the used fiction books as well as others, including many cookbooks and food books.  A comment about the used books.  These aren't your typical used book store books.  In fact, in some cases it is difficult to tell them from the new books.  Stan S., the store manager, told me they are selective about what they take so that explains their great shape.  That said, they're very active pursuing used books and it is an incredibly huge part of the inventory.  In addition to what they have in the store, they also have a warehouse.  The lower level 1st floor is where you'll find all the new books and recent releases.  

The store hosts frequent events on the lower level and is able to clear a good space thanks to shelves on wheels.  There are few sidelines but they have a great assortment of Moe merchandise which is always fun to see.  I especially liked all the sheet music available here as well as many music instruction books for instruments.  If you need a lesson book for clarinet, they have some here.  

I didn't get to meet Moe's daughter Doris, the current owner, but I had a great talk with Stan S. and enjoyed meeting him as well as visiting with several of the booksellers.  Everyone was nice, welcoming, and informative.  Just the way you always want it at an independent bookstore.  Make sure you check out this legendary indie.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  When Books Went To War, Molly Guptill Manning.  Non-fiction.  While the Nazis had book burnings the Americans conducted book drives to send to the troops.  The publishers worked together to support the war effort and the publishing industry undergoes drastic changes.  Great book, highly recommended.  

CURRENTLY READING:  Between The World And Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  The Party After You Left, Roz Chast.  Selected Sonatinas For The Piano, G. Schirmer.  You can get all kinds of music at this indie.  

A great front window display.  

I'm there.

Lots of bargains here and these are the ones you'll see when you enter.  

Looking into the store from the front entrance.  This is like a mezzanine level.  Looking above is the 2nd floor and looking below is the 1st floor or basement level.  

Notice the incredible amount of used books on the front counter waiting to find a home.  

Looking into the lower level of new books.  Hey, I wonder if the guy in the yellow shirt is Moe?  

This is my kind of chair in a bookstore.  

A few of the greeting cards available here.  

Collectors will enjoy coming to this store.  

You'll find music here for almost any instrument, on the lower level.  

One of the long book aisles up on the 4th floor.  

This room on the 4th floor is a must see for all collectors looking for vintage or rare books.  

One of the long book aisles on the 3rd floor.  

It doesn't matter what floor you're on, you're going to find books everywhere.  

Up on the 2nd floor looking from the front of the store toward the back.  

If you have used books, Moe's is interested.  

Looking toward the front of the store and the mezzanine level entrance.  View from the 2nd floor.  

Great view of the 2nd floor.  

Moe Moskowitz, the founder of Moe's Books.  Thanks Moe.  

With Stan S., store manager, on the right.  Thanks for a great visit.  


  1. Hey Indie Bob--thanks for a great posting! I've been working at Moe's for 28 years. Best bookstore anywhere, and a nice place to work.

    1. Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading the post. If I lived closer I'd be in that place all the time! Keep selling books!