UPDATE - ALL BORDERS STORES ARE NOW CLOSED. Again, not a unique store to Chicago since there are any number throughout the United States. The Borders we visited last evening in Chicago is a little unique in that it is located in what I believe is an old bank building in the Uptown area of Chicago. This store has 2 floors and a very good selection of books and CD's. Sue and I usually find something of interest when we shop and last night was no exception.
We found a very good price on a big coffee table book called "Spectacular London" published in 2005 for a price of $50. We purchased the book last night for $4.97 (it is in very good shape). I also purchased 2 other discount books. They were on 2 of my other favorite book categories (Civil War and the Chicago Cubs). Got these books for $3.99 and $2.99 respectively.
If you want to buy new books they have a great selection and there were a number of helpful employees in the store from the guard at the front of the store (not a bad neighborhood, but just in case) to several other employees on both levels.
They have a small cafe inside the store which features Seattle's Best Coffee and other drinks. If you go to this particular store go up to the second floor where you can sit down and read a potential purchase or purchased book and gaze out of the window looking north up Broadway Street. Can't do that in any new suburban store.
What to buy: Books, CD's, DVD's, Blue Ray
What to pay: 20 to 30% off suggested retail. Look for clearance and sale items
This tip is for Chicago VTers, not for visitors. Perfect for all your European language needs, you can buy books and magazines, videos and more, all in the major languages of Europe. They also have a selection of travel books in English, children's games and other curios. Thyey wil have a language dictionary for almost any European language no matter how small. Catalan anyone?
What to buy: Books and magazines primarily in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Russian, with smaller sections for other languages. Especially helpful for the VT member are the tutorials and self-teaching aids. Things like flashcards and phrasebooks, reference dictionaries and software.
What to pay: Normal prices
June 4-13, 2010, Bargain weekend June 12-13, 2010
Every year in June, Little City (formerly run by Brandeis University) sponsors a used book sale held in the parking lot of Old Orchard mall in Skokie. It was much larger in the Brandeis days but there are still quite a few books and I still come home with a small stack of books, I started bringing a back pack and canvas bag to make it easier to cart them around.
If you need to grab a bite before or after shopping, there are several decent chain restaurants at the mall including Maggiano's (Italian), Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen.
The book sale was virtually the same in 2007 when Little City took over, Brandeis organizers threw in the towel after 48 years of putting it on because they simply couldn't find enough volunteers to work it. But it's gotten a lot smaller and the selection not as varied.
What to buy: Bargain weekend or bargain days is usually the last two days of the sale when everything goes for 1/2 the price marked. It's not as cheap as it once was (50 cents a book) but still not a bad deal, I think the most we paid was $2.50 for a book.
Two hours after breakfast at Lou's, I'm still full. I have been walking for two hours in the bitter cold and I'm down Michigan Avenue outside Loyola University. I spy people drinking coffee on the first floor of a store 'Borders' a book and music store. If you just want to rest the legs and relax over coffee, this is ideal.
What to buy: Also has an excellent choice of books and music.
What to pay: Medium cafe freeze with chocolate, $3.49, delish.
I'm a culture vulture so one of my favorite things to do is shopping at museums! Since the Art Institute of Chicago is one of my favorite museums in the world and has tons of my favorite works of art I couldn't resist buying a few arty, inexpensive items to bring back home.
After a day wandering through the Art Institute with shrimp56, we did what was natural and ended our visit shopping in the museum gift shop!
During our trip to Chicago May 2008, we picked up Monet Water Lilies t-shirt for Megs ($9.95), 2 Water Lilies coffee mugs ($9.95 ea), Chagall Blue Windows umbrella ($34), magnets (Hopper, Caillebotte, Renoir, Monet - $1.95 - 3.95), bookmarks (Caillebotte, Tiffany stained glass, Monet - $1.95 ea)
What to buy: Bought Terry & myself coffee mugs (Caillebotte's painting for me "Paris Street: Rainy Day", and "Nighthawks" for Terry), a 2008 Edward Gorey (he's famous for his Addams Family comic strip) calendar for Terry, and an Odilon Redon Christmas ornament which was on sale. See the round face in the lower left corner? That was made into an ornament. Redon seems a big influence on Neil Gaiman, a writer Terry & I both love. I also picked up a 2008 calendar for a dear friend of mine, madaboutparis, who has a degree in art history.
Photo: September 2007
What to pay: For everything above I spent less than $50; not a bad haul!
Powell's Bookstore started out in 1970 when Michael Powell, a University of Chicago graduate student, borrowed $3,000 to open up his first bookstore. Two months later, Powell had repaid his loan and over the years, the little business has expanded to include two more locations in Chicago. I went to the one located in the Hyde Park area, close to the University of Chicago campus. It is described as the most scholarly of the three stores, and I thought there was a great selection of classic and contemporary literature. Within 15 minutes I already had my arms full of books and had to make some really tough decisions to make sure my suitcase would hold it all. In the end I narrowed it down to three novels, which I got for $5 each. Next time I need to bring an extra suitcase!
What to pay: Most novels were in good condition and seemed to go for about a third of the original price.
If you are a book lover and don't mind your books used or are looking for something out of print, Powell's near the University of Chicago campus has a good selection and low prices, skewed more towards cultural and academic offerings-big sections on philosophy, classical and medieval history, literary criticism, and American history including several shelves on Chicago history. You'll also find a fiction section, vintage mysteries, science fiction and a fairly large children's section. You can search their stock online at the website below or order online.
Other independent bookstores in the area include Seminary Co-op Bookstore at 5757 S. University Avenue and Chicago's oldest bookstore, O'Gara & Wilson at 1448 E. 57th St. which is one block from Powell's.
If all that reading makes you hungry, there's an Edwardo's Pizza at 1321 E. 57th St. and Medici's at 1327 E. 57th St. both very close to Powell's.
Hyde Park open 9 am-11 pm daily.
There are a number of places to shop for books (fiction and non-fiction) in Chicagoland. In addition to the chains, there are a few boutique stores and the bookstores on college campus.
Barnes and Noble
1441 W Webster Ave. (Webster Place)
659 W Diversey Pkwy (@ Clark & Broadway)
1130 N State St (@ Elm St.)
A large chain that has lots of locations around Chicago. Ubiquitous and well organized, Barnes & Noble arranges its huge book selection in 22 user-friendly categories, from Art and Architecture to Romance and Travel. Many have Starbucks within the stores.
830 N Michigan Ave. (across from Water Tower)
150 N State St. (across from Fields)
2817 N Clark St. (@ Diversey)
A step beyond the usual shopping-mall bookstore, Borders attracts readers who see themselves as intellectuals. Cozy chairs, scattered tables and music listening stations invite customers to explore and stay awhile. Book and music selections are tailored to the community, giving the shop a local feel. Most have in-store cafes.
What to buy: Transitions Bookplace
1000 W. North Ave. (in Best Buy stripmall)
This place is a santuary in itself. A peaceful atmosphere is created by New Age music and the calming sounds of an indoor waterfall. The store has 30,000 titles in categories ranging from Eastern and Western spirituality to alternative healing, psychology to creativity. They also have a nice selection of greeting cards.
I don't know about you, but I always love to visit new bookstores when I travel, especially independently owned bookstores. For those of you who also enjoy independent bookstores, I've compiled a list that I have used. Hope it helps.
1. Barbara's Bookstores
a. 111 North State Street(at Marshall Field's)
b. 1218 South Halsted Street (at University of Illinois Chicago)
c. 1100 Lake Street (Oak Park)
d. 233 South Wacker Drive (Sears Tower-Lower, Level 1)
e. 201 East Huron (Northwestern Hospital)
2. Powell's Bookstores
a. 828 South Wabash Avenue(Burnham Park) [Near Hilton Chicago in South loop. This is more of a retail warehouse with just about everything you'd want]
b. 1501 East 57th Street (Hyde Park) [In University of Chicago neighborhood and thus quite scholarly. Located near the Museum of Science and Industry]
c. 2850 N. Lincoln Avenue (North/Lakeview)[strong in Art, Architecture, and Photography, rare books, children's section, lots of fiction, and a coffee bar]
I use "c" the most because it specializes in used, rare, and discounted books. This is a rather academic bookstore.
3. Women & Children First (Andersonville)
5233 North Clark
Don't be misled by the name. You don't have to be a kid or a woman to enjoy this fantastic bookstore. It's ranked among the country's finest bookstores. It's quite large [30,000 books in stock]. The staff is just wonderful and willing to help in any way possible. They really back Chicago area writers, and they schedule many interesting events, readings, and signings.
2935 North Broadway
Books, Cds, videos, books on tape and any other book-related items. They offer philosophy, literary classics, and contemporary fiction as well as coffee table books. They also buy used books.
What to buy: 5.Bookworks
3444 North Clark
This store has parking available behind the shop. They buy CDs, LPs, and Ephemera.
This is really a BARGAIN BOOKSTORE. They sell new and used books and CDs, cassette tapes, vintage photographs, etc. They also have first-edition, fine bindings and hard-to-locate books.
"Beat Poet" fans will love it here. Most things are at least 10% off list price.
2959 North Clark
They have reasonable prices; thus, they have been a favorite in the neighborhood since 1975. Books are everywhere. On skyhigh shelves, stacked on the floor, and anywhere else they can be secured. Unfortunatedly, it takes you longer to find books here because they are grouped by category rather than title. At times, you find a box outside the store advertising, FREE.
7.After Words Books
23 East Illinois Street
This is a downtown Chicago bookseller that is independent and they focus on service. They will order whatever you need. They also sell used books. [lower level] They offer Internet access for an hourly rate. If you sign up for their birthday program, you get a $5.00 coupon on the month of your birthday!
It's a comfortable place; a place to relax, to browse, and to sit down and read.
It's located next door to the Jazz Record Mart.
8. Sandmeyer's Bookstore
714 South Dearborn Street
This is a family-owned and operated store located in Printer's Row. It has the greatest travel section, and I love the children's section, too.
What to pay: The price depends on the specific store you select.
This store offers you everything that you will never find in a Borders or other chain bookstore. It is chock full of local zines to hard to find "Nitch" magazines (fetish and REALLY bizzare things).
What I enjoy is that they always have some sort of book signing, reading or spoken word show happening on the weekends. If you are looking traveling to Chicago and want to delve into one of Chicago's sub cultures, I highly recommend that this be your first stop in order to find out the local goings on.
What to buy: With entire sections dedicated to serial killers, cross dressing, naked punk rock chics, Japanimation and comsperacy theories, it is difficult not to find something that tweeks your interest.
What to pay: This store is one of a kind and the prices are slightly higher than at the larger chain stores