Friday, March 24, 2017

Dunaway Books - St. Louis, MO

Dunaway Books, St. Louis, MO
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Readers, I'm afraid I owe you an apology.  Many of you who have faithfully followed The Indie Bob Spot have probably been wondering when the heck I would get to Dunaway Books in St. Louis.  After all, it's only the oldest and largest bookstore in St. Louis.  Its been in business since 1965 and includes an inventory of over 75,000 used, collectable, and rare books.  Well, the wait is over and I can gladly tell you that this indie needs to be put on your list of visits in the St. Louis area.

On the day of my visit, I was warmly and politely greeted by a British accent and the owner who was behind the front counter, Peter H.  I think Peter is every bit as interesting as the store itself.  This bookstore owner played rugby for over 30 years, plays Victorian golf (knickers and all!), enjoys medieval history, and would probably conduct the business with an old-fashioned quill and feather if it weren't for Vernon, one of the booksellers.  I tend to color my opinions rather optimistically for bookstores and books but Peter differed with me on this.  Business at this store has slowed, especially with walk-ins, over the past few years.  He expressed to me real concerns for bookstores, books, and reading in general.  There's definitely competition for kids with all kinds of electronic devices, but I'm hopeful books can co-exist and still find a place.  Thanks to these devices though, Dunaway Books conducts over 40% of its business with online sales of their collectable and rare books.   Because of this, Vernon will ship out a dozen or more books daily.

Dunaway is a multi-level space with an outstanding inventory.  They offer customers store credit for books they bring in for trade and will offer money for rare or collectable books.  If you're a collector, you absolutely must visit here and also visit their online site.  They have many complete sets, but as Peter told me, "they'll be bought by someone who builds a mansion and displayed so people won't think him an illiterate twerp."  Well said, Peter.

But here's what I can guarantee to you at Dunaway Books.  A chance to explore and experience a quintessential bookstore and meet the fascinating people who work there.  Yet, for as long as Dunaway's has been around there are people in St. Louis who haven't discovered it yet.  Really?  I may be late to this store but I'm not 52 years late.  Wake up St. Louis!  Enjoy a visit to Dunaway Books and enjoy the leisure of a wonderful bookstore.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

JUST FINISHED:  Moon Palace, Paul Auster.  One of the cover quotes calls it a composite of Twain and Dickens.  I would agree.  Story of a young adult beginning in the late 1960s and all his trials and tribulations.  The story takes a winding trail and included some incredible coincidences that help reveal relationships between characters.  An interesting story that won't be for all, but I can recommend it.  If you haven't read anything by Paul Auster, this might be one to start with.  

CURRENTLY READING:  The Year The Yankees Lost The Pennant, Douglas Wallop.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  Crown Of Midnight, Sarah J. Maas.  

Another exterior view and one of the display windows.  

View looking directly into the store from the front entrance.  

A few of the works by local authors.  

View looking to the left from the front entrance and a great place to have a seat and do a little sample book reading.  

One of the long aisles on the main floor.  Toward the back you can see the upper balcony level.  

A view looking to the right from the front entrance.  These shelves contain many volumed editions which, as Peter says, some will come in and buy just to fill a bookshelf in their house.  

Looking for 17 volumes of Balzac?  Visit here.  

You can find local authors and interests throughout the store.  

A portion of the children's section and a great place to browse for little readers.  

How about some 1832 editions by Hegel?  Visit here.  

This is near the back of the main floor.  I took this picture because I loved the lamp and the lighting in this part of the store.  

How about a music CD?  Lots of options here.  

View looking from the rear balcony toward the front of the store.  

A nice wall of bookshelves on the upper balcony.  

Continue downstairs for more genres.  

View looking into the basement.  

Another view across the basement level.  

Literary criticism is one of the best sections in the store.  

This is a second basement where even more books are stored.  

With Pete on the left and Vernon on the right, two of the fine people you'll meet at Dunaway Books.  Thanks for a great visit.  


  1. Thanks Bob love the photos and the kind mention of the store and it's collection of books.

    Dunaway Books

  2. Thanks for your comment, Vernon. Best of luck with everything at Dunaway Books!!


  3. Hello Bob,
    Many thanks for a splendid article on Dunaway Books, and all the good work you do in support of the independent "masochist" Booksellers.
    You will help us outlive the current malaise, and future generations will benefit!

  4. Keep up the good work, Peter, and keep the faith! A thorough pleasure meeting both you and Vernon! Bob

  5. Hey Bob you need to come see us next year many changes. Not the least of which is the new owners and their spin on the store. Things will be different next time you come.


    1. Thanks for the update, Vernon. Very excited to hear the news if it is for the better and looking forward to my next visit. Bob