Bookmans is much, much more than a book store.
If you’re not a reader, this description may not give you palpitations, but for those who are, take your heart medicine. Bookmans is a true ‘find’… In addition to the books they have fast and free WiFi, cushy chairs, high ceilings, a spirited staff and an absolutely unpredictable selection of music playing constantly. It’s a public library on steroids. Open till 10 p.m. for those late-owl browsers. It’s a book nut’s idea of heaven.
Bookmans rules. It’s a hollowed out supermarket that’s stuffed with the most amazing odds and ends – books, movies, toys, electronics, and, yes, video games, and boy did they have a great selection.
Bookmans is a vast secondhand book store built in a former supermarket. Even before it opens for the day, regulars are at the door waiting to sell cartons of paperbacks. Single folk, suburban matrons, tourists and literary lights like Barbara Kingsolver prowl the aisles of orange-painted wooden shelves, grabbing up armfuls of half-price books.
This is America in the 21st century. It’s shocking. It’s unnerving. It’s…beautiful. Partly because we’re not talking about Ikea. We’re talking about Bookmans Entertainment Exchange. An enormous maze-like used book store that also buys and sells used CDs and DVDs. We’re talking about consumers in the age of computers and cable television descending on a business with the claustorphobic coziness of grandma’s attic.
Many larger cities have local games shops that either existed before GameStop and have still managed to hang in there or cater to a specific market, such as retro gamers. In Arizona, one such place is called Bookmans. Now Bookmans is more than just a video game shop: the chain deals in used books, movies,music, electronics, games….basically a little of just about everything. You can buy anything from a paperback novel to a 360 there (in fact, that is where I bought mine).
Where to Shop: Used Books
If you made a list of all the people who give Tucson its unique personality, Bob Schlesinger would be on the short list… He is the Indiana Jones-looking adventurer in those TV ads, the one who lives to make it affordable for everyone to take imagination-stretching mind trips though used books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs.
Since Bookmans opened 30 years ago, their constant mission has been to fight censorship in literature, media and other forms of entertainment… This principle is part of their underlying movement of pro-First Amendment rights.
Bookmans is staggering in its size and variety of books. You can wander the bright orange stacks for hours perusing the titles, which range from literature to auto mechanics, psychology to ecology, cooking to camping. Whatever your area of interest, you’re likely to find it reflected somewhere in Bookmans’ inventory.
Bookmans is an indie superstore.
Bookmans isn’t just a place to get dog-eared pulpy detective novels and old Arizona Highways – it’s a cultural hotspot. The used book, music, and media miscellany emporium offers a trading system that makes the stock as eclectic as its clientele.
The mammoth store is just as cozy as our favorite ma-and-pa bookshops, thanks to friendly, little reading-and-relaxing nooks scattered all over the store, but we find ourselves lately heading straight for the colossal CD department, where gently used music of every stripe can be found, sampled, and (much to the chagrin of our groaning shelves at home) purchased.
Bookmans is a cavernous smorgasbord.
The sick, the fragile, and the old have always come to be restored in Tucson, and despite many cures, no one makes it past the final hurdle. Their clothing can be found in immense shops, and their books at Bookmans, a secondhand store arranged like an extremely neat Borders, where the aisles are electric with cruising.
Tucson Weekly (1987-2008)
Arizona Republic (1991-1996, 1998, 2001-2002, 2008)
Phoenix New Times (1993-2003)
Phoenix Magazine (1999-2001, 2004)
Tucson Magazine (1988)
Get Out (1997)
AZ Daily Sun (1990, 1992, 1994-2009)
Tucson Lifestyle Magazine (2008)
Tucson Magazine (1990)
Arizona Senior World (1995-1999)
Inside Tucson Business (2004)
Tucson Guide Quarterly (2002)
Phoenix New Times (2007)
Phoenix New Times (2006)
Tucson Weekly (1993-1997)
Tucson Weekly (1991)
Wells Fargo Copper Cactus Award (2001)
Wells Fargo Copper Cactus Award (2000, 2002, 2008)
Wells Fargo Copper Cactus Award (1998, 1999)
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