Berkeley’s commercial district is mainly comprised of small, independently-owned shops; there’s actually a city law that caps the number of chain stores that can do business here. I’ve spent many afternoons wandering in and out of shops on Telegraph or Shattuck browsing their curious wares, always looking for that dusty hidden treasure nestled in a corner somewhere. Some of the best shops in Berkeley to peruse are its bookstores, which buy and sell new and used books of all kinds.
“Moe’s moved to Telegraph Avenue just in time for the Free Speech Movement. During the Vietnam protests, Telegraph became the flashpoint for numerous run-ins with the police and national guard. When curfews were called by the authorities, Moe would refuse to close his doors, saying people were free to walk on the streets. An occasional tear gas canister would roll down the street and many protesters took refuge in the store.”
While Moe’s gets top marks for having four floors of books on virtually any subject you can think of, and is certainly a Telegraph Avenue landmark, Half Price Books on Shattuck is my favorite bookstore in Berkeley to buy books from. Although HPB is a chain store (I was quite sad when I found out), it is the literature equivalent of Berkeley Bowl, with quality books at shockingly low prices. HPB is housed in the historical Kress Building on the corner of Shattuck and Addison.
I always go into HPB with an open mind and come out with a great find or two. A few buys I’m particularly proud of:
HPB’s stock is discounted because it’s usually overstock or very, very gently used books. Most of the time, you can’t even tell they’ve been read, and adding an inexpensive book is a great way to personalize a gift. I’m a bookworm, though, so most of the books I buy here are for me. I go about once a month, and treat myself to any one book I want. Getting a new book can make a bad day better, and a little literacy never hurt anyone.
Half Price Books
2036 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704