Your Guide to St. Paul Used Book Shopping

Ditch the Kindle and grab a bargain at these local gems.

Jack Stransky shelves books on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at the Midway Used and Rare Books in St. Paul. Stransky worked at the store along with his parents/

Image by Ichigo Takikawa

Jack Stransky shelves books on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, at the Midway Used and Rare Books in St. Paul. Stransky worked at the store along with his parents/

by Patrick Maloney

When Borders went bankrupt, many thought it was the beginning of the end for bookstores. If even the titanic chain could fall, didn’t it spell doom for everyone else in the industry?

Apparently not. Minnesota is still home to hundreds of bookstores, many of which specialize in second-hand finds. A&E picked out four of the standout used bookstores in St. Paul for your reading pleasure.


Half Price Books

2041 Ford Parkway, St. Paul

Half Price Books is yearnin’ for the old days. Not only can you find two floors worth of used books, but also vinyl records, dated PC games and VHS tapes.

Bring in a bucket of your old books, films and software to sell, and you might be able to leave with a little cash; that is if you can find your way out of the maze of novels and anthologies without spending it all.

However, the quirky, individualized atmosphere is a bit misleading: Half Price is not an independent bookstore but a national chain with seven Minnesota locations.


Midway Used and Rare Books

1579 W. University Ave., St. Paul


Midway Books seems like it could be the set of a horror movie. The store is a three-floor maze boasting a run-down ambiance, mannequins and stacks of vintage Life magazines.

But don’t let the display windows, cluttered with dilapidated titles and cheeky signs with literary references, scare you off. The store has an enviable comic book collection, art books you probably won’t find anywhere else and some generally weird stuff.

Downstairs is the “bargain basement,” where cheap books go to get even cheaper. Bring a friend if you’re frightened, and share the good deals.


Sixth Chamber Used Books

1332 Grand Ave., St. Paul

Sixth Chamber is a little less of a labyrinth than most used bookstores. The space is small, the staff is knowledgeable and helpful and the store itself is actually quite upscale. You won’t find hardcovers duct-taped together or the traditional musty bookstore smell here.

You will, however, find quite a few books. Although the selection is one of the smaller ones in the city, there are still more novels lining the walls than the most ambitious English professor assigns on her syllabus.

Sixth Chamber is unique in that it allows you to request books. If you let them know you’re looking for a specific work, they’ll call you if someone sells them a copy.


The Bookshop

1940 N. Lexington Ave, Roseville, Minn.

In the St. Paul suburb of Roseville lies The Bookshop. Books are sold at 50 percent off of their list price, and the prices get even friendlier if you bring in your own novels to trade.

Roughly half the inventory is romance novels, divided into genres that you probably didn’t even know existed, like “historical romance,” “paranormal romance” and “regency romance.” However, the store still has plenty for those who would prefer to keep their love lives and their literature separate.