Even if you get most of your reading done on your favorite device, a visit to a used bookstore is a treat. Being surrounded by thousands of books that others have enjoyed reminds us that there is so much out there to learn and enjoy. A book you never heard of might grab your attention, and you might discover your new favorite author.
We visited two of our favorite used bookstores in Charlotte, Julia’s Café and Books and Book Buyers. Read on to see what to expect at each, as well as what makes each store unique.
We also visited the newest used bookstore in the Queen City, That’s Novel Books, which just opened in February, and is getting to re-open on July 10th.
These stores are not the only used bookstores in the Charlotte area. You can find several more in our huge list of Charlotte thrift stores, consignment stores, used bookstores and vintage stores, including:
- 2nd & Charles, 5331 South Blvd
- The Book Lady, 3515 W Hwy 74, Monroe
- The Book Rack, 10110 Johnston Road
- The Homeschool Room, 2920 Old Monroe Road, Matthews
- The Homeschool Room, 110 N Statesville Road, Huntersville
And, although it’s not a used bookstore, Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road, should be mentioned. This independent bookstore has been around since 1977, and is the only full-service independent bookstore in Charlotte. They can get you anything Amazon can.
Julia’s Café & Books
As a subsidiary of Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte, Julia’s Café & Books, at 1133 N. Wendover Road, serves a triple purpose. Its coffee and pastries fuel Charlotte’s bodies, and its books nourish Charlotte’s minds. But most importantly, proceeds from sales help fund Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes. In fact, one of Julia’s Café & Books’ goals has been to fund a house completely through the sale of books, and they’re on track to do that this year.
But back to the books. Julias’ packs a lot into its space, which is part of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore on Wendover Road. There’s a rare and vintage book section, with some books from as early as the 1890s. The kids’ books are priced as low as 15-cents, up to $2, with the idea that teachers can keep their classrooms stocked in books without spending a lot of money.
You can get mass market paperbacks for $1.25, paperbacks for $2.98 and hardbacks for $5.98, with discounts for multiple purchases. They’ve also got a vinyl record section, with most records priced from $1 to $5.
The space has a quirky and welcoming feel that might be familiar to locals. Brenda Ische, partner and designer at Amelie’s French Bakery, is the creative force behind many of the up-cycled fixtures and furniture pieces that you’ll find at Julia’s–a natural setting for them, since the ReStore is filled with items begging for a second chance.
There are several small tables and some comfortable seating on the main level at Julia’s, but head upstairs for additional café seating, as well as a better view of this mural, which you might miss downstairs, unless you make a point to look up.
Artist Eliyahu BenYsrael, whose work you can find all around Charlotte, and beyond, created and donated this mural, which represents the scope of Habitat for Humanity’s work–the building of a house, but also the home-owner education that is part of the process. BenYsrael and his family became homeowners in Charlotte with help from Habitat for Humanity.
When you donate a book to Julia’s Café and Bookstore you’re helping to provide stable homes for your neighbors. All kinds of books are welcome, except for encyclopedias and magazines.
A bonus when you visit Julia’s is the chance to shop at Habitat for Humanity ReStore. After you shop for books, you can shop for used couches, light fixtures, sinks, chairs–and bookshelves.
Since 1999, Book Buyers, at 1306 The Plaza, has been one of the best places in Charlotte to get lost in. It’s massive, and the selection of books is mind-boggling. There’s a good chance you’ll find what you came for, but an even better chance that you’ll find something you aren’t looking for, which is one of the great pleasures of a used book store.
Every day you’ll find a large selection of $1 dollar books outside the store. These books are duplicates, or just not in perfect condition, but there are plenty of excellent finds. Go ahead and look through these books before you go inside, while you’re finishing your treat from Rita’s Italian Ice, which is in the same shopping center.
Book Buyers’ Plaza Midwood neighborhood is a selling point for the shop. You can walk to a wide variety of restaurants, bars and shops.
Even right inside of Book Buyers, you almost have a store within a store. Lee Rathers, daughter of Book Buyers owner Richard Rathers, has a section devoted to her business, The Greener Apple, which specializes in vegan and eco-friendly goods. You’ll find eco-friendly cleaning supplies, vegan snacks, stainless steel food containers, bamboo utensils, safe toys for kids and more.
You can bring the kids and give them a lot of latitude in the children’s section, as kids’ books are 50 cents, $1 and $2.
Are you wondering about the airplane? Owner Richard Rathers is an aviation enthusiast. He got his private pilot’s license in the 1980s and loves to fly. He’s been building a Piper J-3 Cub, Frankenstein-style, with parts of other planes from the same era. A few years ago he found wings. Rathers’ hope is that someday he’ll fly the plane, but until then, you can see it at Book Buyers.
You’ll always find a cat, or cats, in the store. At times there are foster kittens up for adoption. This beauty is one of two who own the place right now. She likes to be petted. She’ll make sure you know it.
Which leads to a potentially awkward question. What happened to Page, the former, long-standing Book Buyers’ cat? You know, the one who did not like to be petted and who was somewhat grouchy? The one on the sign in the window that warned that she might bite? Good news: Page is fine. She just doesn’t stay at the store anymore because she’s too mean.
Book Buyers accepts books in trade. It offers a store credit of one quarter of the book’s selling price at the store. They love to get current bestsellers, philosophy, history and fine arts books, and African American fiction and non-fiction. And Harry Potter. Always Harry Potter.
That’s Novel Books
The newest used bookstore in Charlotte is That’s Novel Books, which has taken up residence within the Camp North End location of hygge, a coworking space, at 330 Camp Road. The bookstore is co-owned by hygge owner Garrett Tichy and hygge director of marketing Alyssa Pressler.
The owners’ goal is to create a gathering space for writing, literacy, creativity and art. From the crowd at the Grand Opening on February 28th, it seems that the idea is a popular one.
We’ll check back soon, but That’s Novel Books clearly benefits from enthusiastic founders and by its location in the creative hub that Camp North End is quickly becoming.
All images except the top one, the thumbs-up bookshelf, which is a stock image from DepositPhotos, are owned by Charlotte on the Cheap.Subscribe to Charlotte on the Cheap