Last July Patch readers recognized Novato’s own Book Place as the best bookstore in Marin. Even after coming out on top in Patch's Reader's Choice Awards, the “little bookstore that can” is not resting on its laurels. The Book Place is still the only bookstore in Novato that is dedicated to stocking a full range inventory and a comprehensive variety of genres.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the bookstore is that it is run entirely by a nonprofit volunteer organization, The Friends of Marin County Library. For ten years now, volunteers (now over 125 of them) work sales shifts selling everything from the latest popular books, to vintage hardbacks, to others that defy categories. The later will end up in the “U.R.O.” section (Unidentifiable Reading Object), just one of the 35 classifications that books are sorted into within the store.
Approximately 95% of the books come from public donations, the rest of the books are weeded out of the 10 county library branches. The collection is constantly changing due to a continuous stream of generous donations. This type of volume enables the store to have the lowest prices for used books in the county, and that success is translated into generating increasing revenues year over year.
The sustainability of The Book Place allows The Friends of Marin County Library to allocate more money back into the county library system. Says manager Barbara Madrid, “Over the last few years, the Friends of Marin County Library have been able to allocate $55k to $70k annually to fund critical children’s programs, expand teen services, purchase audio and video collections and fund online subscriptions to popular medical and educational tools.”
It is not unusual for the store to intake 3000 items per week. With that amount of items coming in all the times, many books won’t sell. The Friends have arrangements with other charities to move books and offer them to those less fortunate. The store’s frequent half-price sales also help to keep their inventory in check.
A new five-year lease has just been signed by The Friends. An option for another five years after that means that The Book Place is not going anywhere soon. If you wish to donate books, check out their posted guidelines online or in the store. The Book Place is open seven days a week, and it’s a cozy place to just sit and hang out while you browse for books, CDs, or DVDs. Open Friday evenings until 7pm, it’s a great way to unwind for the weekend. Mon-Thurs, and Sat 10-4, Friday 10-7, Sun 12-4.
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