The Top 4 Used Bookstores in Milwaukee

Used books are my passion and one of my first priorities when I moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin was to find the best places to satiate my craving. There are a lot of unimpressive little shops that specialize in little more than junky thrillers and Harelequin Romances (with maybe a half-baked little sci-fi shelf in the back) but there are a number of fine, expansive stores that really impressed me.

Half Price Books is probably the most addictive store of all. Not only does each location boast a huge selection of mostly new paperbacks and hardcovers at half price or lessâÂ?¦ but the back of the store boasts a “clearance section” which gets replenished every week. You will not believe some of the amazing books you can find there marked down to between one and three dollars each! It’s gotten to the point where now I think half price is too much to pay for a recent book. The only drawback to this chain is that they don’t pay a whole lot of money for the used books that you bring in for trade. In general, you are better off just having a yard sale or putting them on Ebay. But, if everyone did that then they’d soon run out of books to sell, wouldn’t they? For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people would willingly sell their good used books to Half Price BooksâÂ?¦ but I’m glad that they do. I think their best location is the one at 5032 South 74th St. (phone 414-281-0000). They always seem to have a better selection of magazines than the rest and they have the most impressive “clearance section”. The 8514 West Brown Deer Road location is a very close second (call 414-354-1235). I always feel a little disappointed when I go to the store at 16750 West Bluemound Road (phone 262-789-0280). They just don’t seem as well-organized as the other locationsâÂ?¦ and don’t seem to have as wide a selection.

Downtown Books can be found at 327 East Wisconsin Avenue (which is “downtown” of course). They have a very impressive selection of hardcover and paperback books, all categorized and alphabetized for your convenience. Upstairs they also have an impressive selection of old comic books and magazines for your perusal. I could spend a whole day just going up and down the many aisles, browsing its contents. The store is the most orderly I have found in Milwaukee. Everything seems to be in its proper place so this would be the best place to try first if you want to find a particular book in a hurry. In fact, call them at 414-276-5330 and see if they have a book you want right now. Prices are generally very reasonable though they have a few older editions that might set you back a new extra dollars.

Renaissance Book Shop is also located downtown at 834 North Plankinton Ave (call 414-271-6850) and inside the General Mitchell Airport at 5300 West Howell Ave (call 414-747-4526). I must say that the airport location is especially noteworthy. I am used to airport bookstores with nothing but the latest new releases. Renaissance has a huge store of mostly used books at some very fair prices! If all airports had stores like these I’d be hanging out there more often. The downtown store is a huge multi-floor building with tons and tons of books, loosely grouped into sectionsâÂ?¦ mostly, but not always, alphabetized for your convenience. Oh well, sometimes searching through a cluttered store’s inventory is the best way to find something extra special.

Speaking of cluttered inventoryâÂ?¦ I give you Schroeder Used Books and Music at 7629 West Greenfield Avenue. This small, but feisty store has a huge selection of mostly vintage paperbacks and hardcovers. The display of the books often leaves a lot to be desiredâÂ?¦ especially if one is hunting for something in particular. Little is alphabetized and there books piled high in front of other booksâÂ?¦ so trying to see what is behind the front piles means getting down and dirty and doing your own sorting and re-piling. The results are often worth it. Another drawback is that not many books seem to have prices attached. You often have to bring them up to the owner and ask how much they are. I generally find this annoying but I find that the fine selection of old, rare books (in mostly excellent condition) makes up for it. Call them at 414-774-4296 to see when they open. The store is open late every night until midnightâÂ?¦ but they don’t have a regular time that they open every day. Most days they open at noonâÂ?¦ or close to itâÂ?¦ but call first to be sure.

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