Pasadena >Shopping > Cliff's Books
630 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA | Directions 9110134.145885 -118.137363
Neighborhoods: South Pasadena
Best place for searching out the rare, collectible, musty – This a store with interesting books you didn't even know existed!! The booksellers know their stuff, and are cool and for the most part, well-read people, who can help you find your way through the mazes.
The art books, metaphysical, and history (yes, there's even a section on conspiracy theories!) are my personal faves; there's also a vast paperback selection.
So go there, and have fun!!
Last old-school used book shop--nooks, crannies and all. – When Cliff Gildart opened his second-hand bookshop in 1986, it was just one of a batch clustered around the venerable Vroman's, catering to the low budgets and high brows of the local academic crowd. Today, with most bookworms shopping online, only Cliff's and Vroman's remain. Offering late hours every day of the week, oddball treasures, no pressure to buy and a sprawling but well-organized space, Cliff's-dwellers can spend hours beneath the flickering fluorescents, browsing back issues of National Geographic, obsolete physics tomes, spicy pulp paperbacks, celebrity bios, women's studies, military histories, boxes of oversized vintage magazines and classic literature, poetry and travel guides. The prices are on the high side, with some recent used books priced as-new. Need cheap, light airplane reads? The back room is all mass-market paperbacks starting at $3.95.
My Idea of the Perfect Used Bookstore – I have been going to Cliff's since I was young, so I am a little biased on this account, but I strive to go back every time I re-visit the area. Reading other reviews, much of what is said is true, but I think it depends greatly on what one is looking for in their experience. The owner and employees don't know every book in the store but will direct you to their estimated locations. There are so many books in the store that there are books far from their assigned homes that can be found all over. That, combined with the charm of the warped hallways of old shelves, yellowed comics stapled to random spaces of wall, and a cat that I have seen on occasion, are what give Cliff's its unique character.
For the person who wants to get lost in winding nooks and crannies of shelves at war for space, who wants to lose an afternoon in the stacks finding hidden gems, and who doesn't know what they want to see but just that they love a dusty warm smelling atmosphere where they can peruse in silence, Cliff's is perfect.
In regard to surly employees, I will say that it seems to have good and bad days. They are particularly intolerant to yuppie types who are inconsiderate to others, such as talking loudly on cell phones and complaining loudly about prices. Surly does happen but it does not mean they are mean. They just seem very set on maintaining order in their domain. Bad apples do happen though. Most are not though:
Last time I visited, there was a rude young man who shoved past me and my friend as we were going down an aisle that could be seen from the register. We were annoyed, but continued about our business. We saw the clerk snap his glance up and take note of the guy. A few minutes later I was at the back and the guy was still up front when he answered his phone and started talking really loudly. My friend says she gave him an annoyed look through the bookcase as he was on the next aisle, and the clerk got up and yelled at the guy and told him to leave. Then apologized to my friend.
The talking was very loud, and we appreciated the defense of our browsing peace. Naturally I got a phone call I had to take, and had to whisper quietly at the back of the store bc I couldn't bear to stop looking. But I didn't want to incur any wrath. Lol. Basically, I love the store, but it is a unique experience more suited to browsing or general interest than to check specific books off a "to get" list.
A bookhound's heaven – Cliff's is a bookhound's delight. You (or should I say "I") could spend hours upon hours just perusing titles and finding possible purchases. I recommend going in when you have an idea of what you're looking for or you will spend hours here. If you are looking for out of print books or just inexpensive reading options...check out Cliff's. I always find something...usually something I didn't even know I was looking for.
Way Overpriced – Browsing around I found a few books I wanted to read. They were kinda dingy and on the verge of falling apart. I thought maybe I'd buy them if they were cheap enough. Just wanted to read them and not have them as a collectible, because clearly they werent in that condition. I was assuming the book would be like two bucks or so, three at the most. Nope the small paperback book was $6.00 and originalIy $7.95. Why on Earth would I pay a few bucks below the original price? Even if it was a first edition, it would be worth nothing in that condition. I understand its hard to compete with places like Barnes and Noble and Borders, but having high prices for your books only drives people to those places. Not all the books were in bad condition, but most of them were overpriced by a few bucks or more. The guy that was in there was rude too, dunno if thats the owner or not. An older guy with an army green hat and facial hair.
GREAT SELECTION – I visit Cliffs as often as possible. Thousands of books in a small location. Hardbacks, paperbacks, records, books on tape. I spend at least two hours sorting through there used book selection.
A True Treasure Trove – Cliff's is a classic used bookstore: you could wander the overstuffed aisles for hours, immersing yourself entirely in everything from great literature to old Girl Scout manuals and how-to handbooks. Last time I stopped in, I picked up some first edition Robert Sheckley and a kitschy ladies' guide for a girlie friend, but the opportunities are endless.
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