From 10 July to 10 September, 2020, I posted pictures of bookmarks that I either keep at the ready in an envelope on a shelf or which live in various books around the house. They are from 43 different bookstores; sixteen of them are closed and twenty-seven are still around. A better ratio than I was expecting.

But too many are gone without having been replaced, and we are poorer and more vulnerable for it.

I Read Banned Books

Day 1: Odegards

Two bookmarks that resurfaced in old books around the house. The Odegard’s at Victoria Crossing closed in January 1996. (The C∗lhoun Square store stayed open a few more years, if memory serves.)

Two bookmarks from Odegard Books in St Paul

Day 2: St Marks

St Mark’s was small but mighty. A regular stop when I lived in the gravity well of NYC. But I’m 0 for 2 in the category of “Bookstores that still exist.” I’ll try to find a non-moribund bookmark for tomorrow so that it doesn’t seem like I’m taking pictures of headstones…

Two bookmarks from the late St Mark's in Manhattan

Day 3: Green Apple Books

City Lights is a great bookstore, of course, and I try to go every time I’m in the City. But if you told me I could go to only one San Francisco bookstore, I think I would choose Green Apple.

Green Apple Books

(And I checked their website. They’re still alive!)

Day 4: Cannon Beach Books

Cannon Beach Book Company

Day 5: Booksmith

I think I must have found this tucked in a book I bought somewhere else, since I have no memory of ever visiting this bookstore.

The Booksmith in San Francisco

(Also: apparently not dead!)

Day 6: Rag and Bone

Great little shop. Perfect name for a used bookstore. It was in Linden Hills, next door to the Dunn Brothers.

Bookmark and business card from Rag and Bone in Minneapolis

Day 7: 192 Books

Lovely shop. I’ve seen it turn up as a location in TV shows when they want the characters to seem refined and sophisticated.

The bookmark is a heavy cardstock, so it’s ideal for thicker books and especially anything with deckled edges.

Bookmark with 192 BOOKS in large letters Bookmark with address for 192 Books

Day 8: Book Court

Book Court in Brooklyn

Day 9: Hungry Mind

Ah, the Hungry Mind. I started going here when I was nine to collect Tintin books. This was my bookstore. We were the same age and I thought we would grow old together.

09 hungrymind caus

(It’s hard to tell, but this is an absurdly small bookmark, about half the width of a business card.)

Day 10: Powells

For about five years, I lived an easy walk or a short Streetcar ride away from the Burnside store. I arrived in PDX with 74 boxes of books. When I moved away, I had only 38. Maybe you’ve bought one of my cast-offs.

10x powells

I think this was the color during the late aughts.

Day 11: Housing Works

Housing Works is such a cool place. And possibly my favorite bookmark: good cardstock, great reminder.

Housing Works side one with address and store hours Housing Works side two with the sentence YOU ARE HERE in large letters

Day 12: Coliseum

Sorry, everyone: yet another dead bookstore. I found this inside an older book I received from a friend.

12a coliseum 12b coliseum

Day 13: Gotham

Maybe it was in its decrepit twilight, but I found Gotham forbiddingly hostile and risibly pompous. Despite a rich inventory, I spent as little money as possible on my sole visit and vowed never to return. I shed no tear on learning of its humiliating and predictable demise.

Gotham Book Mart side one with lots of fawning quotes by famous people Gotham Book Mart side two with more fawning quotes by famous people

Day 14: Westsider

Now this is how you do a used bookstore. (I thought I also had a bookmark from when it was Gryphon, but it hasn’t turned up.)

Westsider Books and Records in NYC

Day 15: The Strand

Rounding out this NYC week is the Strand. I wish I could say why, but I’ve always merely liked rather than loved the Strand, despite it seeming, on paper, to be my ideal bookstore.

15a strand

(I’m sure it’s a coincidence, but they removed the bag check after this cell phone symphony.)

Day 16: Hungry Mind

It’s Saturday, which means it’s time once again for a Hungry Mind bookmark. Another tiny one from the late 90s.

16 hungrymind cow1

Day 17: Powells

Powells again. This is from around 2010 or so.

17a powells 17b powells

Day 18: Common Good Books

Almost perfect bookstore. Large enough to feel like you probably missed something, small enough not to be overwhelming. (I haven’t been to its successor, Next Chapter, but I’ve ordered from them online a few times this spring.)

18 commongood

Day 19: Peoples' Co-operative Bookstore

I picked this up when we visited the USSR exhibit at Expo 86. The USSR may be gone but the Peoples’ Co-op is still struggling on like the rest of us, just trying to make it through 2020…

Peoples' Co-operative Bookstore in Vancouver BC

Day 20: Biography

No bookmark, just a business card from Biography. It was driven out by the Marc Jacobs infestation of the Village. I remember seeing this sign in many windows: Less Marc Jacobs, more Jane Jacobs.

Biography would rise again under a new name and with a very kick-ass bookmark.

Biography Bookshop

Day 21: Bookbook

The erstwhile Biography, now known as Bookbook. Not sure whether I love or hate the new name. Either way, bold look.

Bookbook formerly known as Biography in Greenwich Village

Day 22: Odegards

Odegards at Victoria Crossing closed in ’96. (And was replaced by I wanna say an Aveda?) A few years later, an inoffensive bookstore going after the Borders/B&N crowd opened up kitty corner. Looking at the locations, the owners clearly had the snowbird thing down.

Bound To Be Read with locations in St Paul Albuquerque and Key Largo

Day 23: Hungry Mind

Hungry Saturday.

Hungry Mind in St Paul

Day 24: Powells

Another Sunday, another Powells. From around 2011 or ’12, I think. The period has vanished from the end of sell us your books, presumably to strengthen the symmetry between the two sides.


Day 25: Amazon Bookstore Collective

This will always be the real Amazon Bookstore. Imagine the alternate universe where the venerable feminist cooperative prevails, and the shabby little internet start-up has to change its name.

Day 25 Amazon Bookstore Collective in Minneapolis

Day 26: Magers & Quinn

Fantastic shop in the heart of Uptown. Everything The Strand wishes it were.

Day 26 Magers and Quinn in Mineapolis

Day 27: Borders (Uptown)

This Borders replaced Odegards, which had held on a little longer than the St Paul store. It’s Kitchen Window now.

Calhoun Square gets its name from the nearby lake, which until recently bore the name of pro-slavery shitbird and all-round “very fine person,” John Calhoun.

Day 27 Borders Day 27 Borders

Day 28: Prairie Lights

I remember really liking Prairie Lights, but I’ve only been there once, passing through on a roadtrip — twenty years ago today, in fact.

Day 28 Prairie Lights in Iowa City

Day 29: Wallace Books

Love this place. A little house, with nooks and rooms devoted to different genres. In the SFF room, some authors are collected in milkcrates. Heinlein’s crate. McCaffrey’s. The fiction is alphabetical, but only by first letter. Perfect for endless browsing and serendipity.

Day 29 Wallace Books in Portland OR

Day 30: Black Oak

Okay: Green Apple, then Black Oak, then City Lights. (I was sorry, therefore, to discover that Black Oak has closed…)

Day 30 Black Oak Books in San Francisco and Berkeley

Day 31: Powells

31a powells

From the mid-teens.

Day 32: Hungry Mind

Day 32 Hungry Mind signed copy

Day 33: Collected Works

Day 33 Collected Works in Santa Fe

Day 34: Labyrinth

The great Labyrinth. My favorite shop in NYC. Possibly the closest in feel to the Hungry Mind in its prime of any place I think I’ve ever been.

Day 34 Labyrinth Books in Manhattan

I preferred the Labyrinth name, but after they renamed it Book Culture its character didn’t change, so I can live with it.

Day 34 Book Culture in Manhattan

Day 35: Borders (Richfield)

I found Edmond Jabès’ Book of Questions here. Yes, in a Borders. In Richfield. Right there on the shelf. Remember when there were national chain bookstores? And even they actually carried books? Now it’s just the Amazon deforesting itself. And there isn’t even a tree museum.

Day 35 Borders

Day 36: Waterstones

The Blackwell’s by the university was my bookstore during my semester in Aberdeen, but I haunted the Waterstones on Union Street whenever I could.

Waterstones in Abderdeen Scotland

Day 37: Powells

From sometime in the early or mid ’00s.


Day 38: Hungry Mind

Hungry Mind bookmark with a drawing of a cow

Day 39: Book House in Dinkytown

I love places like Wallace and Mercer Street to the extent they remind me of the Book House. A magnificent clutter. (The St Paul branch, which I think I loved even more, was right across the street from the Hungry Mind.)

Two versions of the Book House in Dinkytown MPLS

Day 40: Paperback Exchange

Paperback Exchange

Day 41: Moon Palace

Pitch-perfect bookstore. I salute their buyers. For example, I can take in its poetry section almost without moving my head but I’d put it up against any of the best bookstores anywhere else, even those ten times larger.

Moon Palace

Day 42: Against the Current

Exquisite used shop. An astonishingly broad selection for a place the size of my living room, ranging from the scholarly to the pulp. Great name, too. And so we beat on…

Against the Current

Day 43: BookSmart

In the strip mall across the street from the original Cheapo. I assume it must have been connected to the BookSmart in Uptown, but I don’t remember for sure. Was this its original location?


(And this bookmark is so old, an area code was unnecessary.)

Day 44: Hungry Mind

Hungry Mind bookmark with a matador using a book for his cape or possibly muleta

Day 45: Powells

From sometime in the mid ’00s.


Day 46: Borders (Santa Fe)


Day 47: Hungry Mind

Hungry Mind bookmark

Day 48: Powells

48 powellsgreen

Day 49: Three Lives

I love this place.

Three Lives in Manhattan

(I did a doubletake when I saw the cover of Franzen’s How to Be Alone, not only because it’s a shot of Three Lives as Archetypal Indie Bookstore, but also because — who the hell bends back the front cover of a book like that before they’ve even bought it?)

Day 50: The Book Store

A bookmark labelled bookmark from a bookstore called The Book Store. Reminds me of the yellow and black generic brands from the early 80s.

Based on its address and the bookmarks’ colors, this was possibly an earlier incarnation of SJSU’s campus bookstore.

The Book Store

Day 51: Half Price Books

Half Price Books

Day 52: Hungry Mind

Bookmark with cityscape above text reading Where Smart People Meet

Day 53: Sixth Chamber

I wandered in during their first anniversary in May of ’96 and was instantly ensorcelled. I appeared in their short-lived lit mag, read at their open mics, and bought and sold tons of books.

Front of Sixth Chamber bookmark

Any closed bookstore is sad, but this one was especially hard.

Back of Sixth Chamber bookmark

Day 54: Antique Books

Antique Books in Annapolis MD

This turned up in a used book I bought in Salt Lake City, or possibly Santa Fe.

Day 55: Books Inc

Books Inc

Day 56: Hungry Mind

From the last days of the Hungry Mind. After selling their name to a short-lived online school, they rebranded, expanded into Open Book, then closed a few years later.

This wasn’t how the story was supposed to end, but this is apparently how the story usually ends.

Two bookmarks from Ruminator Books

Day 57: Amazon

The villain sweeps on stage and strikes a pose. We boo uproariously.

A bookmark from Amazon dot com

He basks in it, studying his fingernails, with the occasional imperious side-eye to the audience.

A bookmark from Amazon dot com

We love to hate him, and hate to love him. He’s the reason why the show is sold out for the whole run.

Day 58: Red Balloon

Bookmark for Red Balloon Bookshop children's books etc

Day 59: Powells

The most recent version I have, and the last for this series. Some friends sent me an envelope full of these in 2018, a few years after I had moved away.


Day 60: Pickwick

I picked up armloads of science fiction and fantasy here in the early 80s. Better selection that B. Dalton’s. And with a branch in the local strip mall, it was easier for middle-school me to get to than faraway Shinders or Uncle Hugo’s, both of which were rare, special visits.

Pickwick Discount Books

Day 61: Birchbark Books

An excellent bookstore so richly and lovingly stocked, it seems much larger than it is.

Birchbark Books

Day 62: Rag & Bone

This version surfaced a few weeks ago, too late to be included in the original post.

Rag and Bone Books

Day 63: Sixth Chamber

And this brings us to the end of the run.


I will continue occasionally posting other bookmarks — and things that serve as bookmarks — as they turn up in my books. Find them using the bookmark tag.

But I’ve posted something daily throughout April, May, and now July and August, so I’m ready for a break.