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Visiting Cal’s Used Bookstore in Redding, CA

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Blue sky and 75 degrees made today a  tourist-magazine perfect day to look for Cal’s Used Bookstore, located with great difficulty at 5240 Westside Road in Redding, CA back behind rows of what looked like Storage Wars.  Market Research 10RT

While it isn’t Powell’s Used Books in Portland, Oregon, owner, Carl, filled several rooms with many genres of used books, and seemed knowledgeable about them all.  He walked me through the romance section, saving me hours of tedious looking.

It was hard to compare the numbers of books in both the new and the used bookstores.  What is interesting about a used bookstore is which books come back to be resold, and how long they stay on the shelf.  Carl arranged his books in alphabetical order, but highlighted more authors, by setting the books on a little shelf (or book) and piling them up, spine showing.

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Popular paranormal author

He pointed out authors that sold well, so I bought four books at $3.50 each.  He told me that books by J.R. Ward flew off the shelf faster than any others, and so he only had a few of her books.  I bought her book, Envy, published in 2001.  She is a #1 NY Best Selling Author.  Paranormal romance currently sells well.

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Traditional romance books by Debbie Macomber, author of Back on Blossom Street published in 2007, come back into the store by droves.

Market Research 13RTRobyn Carr sets her stories in local venues, which draws readers in this area to her books.

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Carl showed me where to find children’s books, then left me to enjoy them by myself.  I found VERY few fiction picture books.  Early readers and early teen books prevailed.  Cal’s stocked mostly non-fiction science and social science children’s picture books.  Of the fiction books available, one earned the Caldecott Honor, John Henry by Julius Lester, pictures by Jerry Pinkney, published in 1994. -mint condition.  I’m guessing that it is around 2,000 words, which makes it almost 4 times as long as The Australian Writer’s Centre suggested length for picture books.  This book cost me $4.50, and is $14.36 at Amazon.  However, I might never have bought it at Amazon because there are so many choices, whereas, it was the only Caldecott Award winning book at Cal’s.


The other book I purchased, Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, who also wrote Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type which is a Caldecott Award winner, and one of my favorite books. It still had it’s $0.98 price tag on the spine and I paid $3.50 for it.  🙂

Duck for President

My analysis of the situation is that once people purchase picture books, they either wear them out, hand them down, or keep them until they have grandchildren.  Most do not come back for resale unless they are not very good.  On the other hand, people reuse paperback books.  These sold for $3.50, about the same price as the hardback copies of the children’s books, almost half of their retail value, $7.19 paperback or $5.38 Kindle.  I learned that authors do not get any more than name recognition from the sale of used books.

So where do you get your books?

24 replies »

  1. Ahhhhh a divine post here. Wonderful analysis. You inspire me to sally forth and document some of the local used book shoppes here. One lady down the way owns one entitled “Patrick’s Paperbacks” and peddles mostly in paperback books, obviously. She can also order just about anything and provide a discount. She is a fascinating and most peculiar individual, but she seems to dislike Sir, however…which I cannot understand. Odd!

    My favourite one is a beautiful little shoppe just called “Books” located in downtown Melbourne. Oh my grand good golly…it is heaven. The Freud books are a work of art. Beautiful, old hard-backs in immaculate condition.

    The owner is a very precise and pedantic little man, and picks out his books very selectively. The books he could not care less about, (Daniel Steel sort of thing) that he happens to unhappily acquire, he gets rid of in deep sale out of a storage unit far, far away from his store. I found a whole collection of classics, this way- the deep thinkers- Dostoyevsky, Spinoza, Plato, FREUD, and so forth, at one of those sales. Odd to find that collection amongst a sea of Daniel Steels!

    We are banned now, however, as Sir came right at closing to one (we had, somehow, gotten lost and ate up our time roving around looking for the place we’d been too several times previously), and Sir insisted on going inside anyway…I told him the precise, punctual and pedantic little man would be most bruised and battered by this…Sir did not listen…and so now we are no longer invited to these sales. Sir never listens…

    I adore the little man, though, with his marvelous book-store and with his thick glasses, his extreme love of cats, and his crinkly dress-shirt with the classic ink-stain bleeding through the shirt pocket heavily laden with quite an array of the writing instruments. Just classic.

    And it seems I rambled on…blast


    Smiling Toad Hugs


    • I was going to say, “Who could dislike Sir, but you answered it – the Used Bookstore Nazi.” It reminds me of that old episode of Seinfeld with the NY Soup Nazi. So funny. I ran across a used book store in San Francisco a little like that, but the owner turned out to be very nice once we got him started talking. You are so good at writing descriptions. That is one area I need to beef up. 🙂 Cheers to you MFA AKA ST


      • MFA? My Furry Autumn??

        Har har har, thankee lass. It was fun writing a little story to you, I have missed that activity!!

        The little man that owns the bookstore is very sweet when he gets talking as well, he is just very wary of poor Sir! I would really love to photograph him but I think he would stop talking to me and ban me from the slice of absolute heaven (er, the book store), if I merely asked. I shall have to draw him sometime. I don’t suppose he would be fond of the idea of me toting easels through the store and drawing things all over the place…like a close-up of his ink-stained pocket weighed down with 17 pens…

        Cheers to you MGFDM

        (My Grand and Fabulous Dear Marsha)




        • My Friend Autty, are you furry? In our house not even the dog is furry! I’ve missed your fabulous stories. How they sparkle! You could have a contest, where you describe him and people can send you pictures. That would be great fun!


          • I think so. If I could draw, I would do it. I thought about him several times during the day, and what he might look like. My dad always had ink stains on his white shirts. 🙂


          • 😀 You CAN draw- I have seen the fabulous results!!

            Thankfully, Sir does not suffer from bleeding pen syndrome. He usually suffers from the adversary syndrome of never able to find a pen 😉

            Book-store man is the first I have seen in real life to suffer from this problem. He seems quite oblivious of it as well. He is extremely fond of cats, I may have mentioned. He will go on incessantly about them. His children.

            Bug hugs and cheers,



          • We have so many pens and pencils strung around the house, that you would think that was impossible, but Vince sometimes can’t find one. Usually it’s his keys or glasses he can’t find. The worst is sunglasses. He buys the expensive clip on kind for his prescription glasses, and looses them. There must be at least 10 of them lying on the beaches of CA, in stores, at a friend’s home, in the glove compartment of a car. Who knows where, but they are gone for good. My problem was always keys, but with the Prius, you don’t need a key. I keep the key in my purse or pocket, and I never put it in the ignition. So I can’t start the car without it being with me. You can’t lock the door if the key is still in the car. So I never have problems with keys anymore.

            That’s a long way off an inky shirt! How I do meander.

            I’ve missed our long walks through memory lane, ST.


  2. There’s nothing like browsing in a book store and finding treasures– used book stores can be such fun. Browsing and that wonder of discovery is what’s lost with internet book shopping. I’m a huge library user- my local library is a gift- they have a great selection and seem to order whatever I request. I have found many great books, mostly novels from the “new book” shelves.


    • We don’t have a huge library in our small town. I used to go to the Visalia Library frequently, but now I’m an Amazon buy it with one click girl. I especially like the free books. 🙂


  3. I just sold some of my son’s old picture books to a local used/new book store in SF called Green Apple. They get a wide variety of high quality used kids’ hardcovers. As with many things, I think it just depends on where you do your research. Fun doing research, eh? 😀


    • Exactly, and since I’ve just started researching, not just browsing, I don’t have a lot of data to go on. 🙂 I was just in SF, though. I wish I’d stopped! 🙂 Next time! 🙂


  4. I get most of my books from giveaways at local libraries. Not only does it include books that the libraries have withdrawn from circulation, but also books that patrons have given away. In the latter category I can usually find at least one or two classics a month.


    • I think you would like this one. What are the good ones that you have visited on the East Coast. Powell’s Books in Portland,OR is by far the best used bookstore on the West Coast, that I’ve seen or heard of. Cal’s was great, though, and the owner, Carl, was amazingly knowledgeable. 🙂


      • I’ve been to Powells and loved it. The Strand in NYC was fantastic until their financial troubles and they stopped restocking their shelves.
        There’s a small one on Long Island that we’re trying to sell a ton of books to right now.

        We were in one recently in Ottowa, and had a lovely conversation with the proprietor.

        Mostly, we just love old bookstores, wherever we find them.


        • Can you imagine when the baby boomers and the generation xers start to dissipate, and their estates are sold off, the influx of books in used bookstores? Or… What will they do with all our books?? Then poof – the Kindle generation. What a weird thought for 6:33 a.m. Yikes! 🙂 Have a great day Guapo! 🙂





Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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