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A bookstore for
home builders, architects, contractors,
and consumers.

1817 Fourth Street (near Hearst)
Berkeley CA 94710
Telephone: (510) 845-6874
Toll Free in Continental USA: (800) 843-2028
(August 2012 review)

                     BUILDERS BOOKSOURCE

overall feel & design
    I have always found BUILDERS BOOKSOURCE to be very inviting in its layout and design, and their fixtures are clever, well-designed and most practical. The entire front of the store is floor-to-ceiling windows that draws the light in from Fourth Street and makes it almost impossible to not be pulled into the bookstore with all those interesting goods on display. The windows are full of displays featuring the rich variety of the store's goods and there's a book cart of quality, reduced merchandise out on the sidewalk. Though they utilize the store's entire space with a nice variety of fixtures, they do it in such a way as to avoid making anything feel cramped.
    The bookstore exists to serve everyone from the professional builder to the layperson in the areas of architecture, design, and construction, and yet the range of the merchandise moves out further than that. There is a lot offered at Builders and it's always a treat to explore and browse—the sign of a good bookstore doing its job.
    I'm a fixture guy (20 years of designing and building them will do that to a guy) and Builders has some of the most clever, attractive and practical fixtures of all kinds that you'll find anywhere. They use a lot of metal and heavy wood, but it doesn't get in the way and overpower the store's light, open personality. The subjects they concentrate on with their inventory, are honestly reflected in in their fixtures—practical design is key, and the unique materials are the attractive way to realize the whole concept.
    The signing is good-sized and easily readable (would seem that this would always be a given in every bookstore—it's NOT) and the store is laid out in easily identifiable sections throughout the store.
    The combination of the wall shelves and the different types of floor bookcases and a few table are arranged nicely so as to set off different areas for different groupings of subjects. One of my favorite areas is the gardening and landscape area that first catches your eye with the placement of some appropriately-rustic chairs and tables in front of several banks of wall shelves that are full of face-outs of those beautiful books that make anything seem possible in your own backyard. Just the way the walls shift, and the chairs and displays are juxtaposed, makes it a comfortable home for this section. They continue this creation of a home for their books, throughout the store. The sections flow quite nicely from one to another.  

UPDATE (from the bookstore's website)
August 2012 - Builders Booksource to "RESIZE"
   In response to the changes in the book world and to the design and construction industry, we are restructuring both our store and our business to stay profitable and sustainable. We will remain in our current location at 1817 Fourth Street in Berkeley, but in a smaller space. Despite our cozy new layout, we will maintain our full inventory of design and building trades titles.
   Because most of our free standing units and tables are on wheels, we can continue our book events and workshops even with the new layout. Regardless of these changes, our amazing staff is, as always, committed to excellent customer service – be it in person, over the phone, or on-line.
   Work will begin the third week of August. We will strive to minimize the impact on customers and expect to be open, in some fashion, every day. So in addition to buying books on design and construction, you’ll be able to experience the thrills of an active construction site! If you hear drills and hammers when you call you’ll know you have reached the right store.
   We anticipate that the transition will go quickly--and it had better!--as our new stock of 2013 calendars and many exciting new fall titles are beginning to arrive.

    In our many visits to Builders, we have often been there when the staff members are involved is some pretty detailed discussions with other customers wanting to know about specific building codes or complicated building techniques, but I've always felt that I've been noticed and welcomed to the store—be it a spoken greeting or some eye contact.
    Friendly and knowledgeable is what bookstore staffing should be all about, and Builders scores quite high in this regard. In the last few months we have both noticed that the displays in the bookstore have improved quite a bit. It seems to have started with the hiring of one new person there. I have personally always loved to create new displays, and have noticed that once other staff members see how it's possible to make something more interesting and good-looking, they want to create something in their own style. One person can always make a big difference in the personality of a bookstore. 
                        design section

the selection
    This is a bookstore full of big, beautiful hardcovers and paperbacks on things like: drop-dead homes and yards, stunning architecture of so many styles and personalities, standard and cutting-edge typefaces and font stylings, fine furniture building and carpentry, interior design, urban design, as well as construction and building of all kinds, many areas of the design world, and more. All of the stock is new and runs the full gamut of hard and softcover books, a small children's section, another small section of magazines, instructional DVDs, software, puzzles and games, blank books and journals, calendars, cards, mounted prints and photos, crafty items, and other nonbook items and gifts. They carry a little fiction, but the heart of the store belongs to builders—be they looking for the official building code manuals for the different building trades or a big puzzle for your next vacation.  

                                                                       landscape section

    Books are eye-candy to their admirers and this store has the fixtures (wall and floor-standings) to really allow them their chance to catch your eyes and your imagination—just imagine taking them home with you. Face-outs greet you everywhere and the nonbook items invite you to pick them up and check them out. There's a knowing mind making the displays that seem to blend a little of this, and a little of that, to make up attractive displays of both book and nonbook that seem to belong together. Making a display work isn't a simple thing many times. 

store events
    Builders Booksource has an online list of store events. While they don't have a heavy events calendar, they do have a varied and interesting flow of authors appearing at the store.

store history
    The original builders Booksource was opened by George and Sally Kiskaddon in 1982 and caters to the wonderfully over-educated contractors and design folks of the San Francisco East Bay Area. George's background had been construction management, real estate, while Sally's was people management, education and literature. Before opening the store they found that it was nearly impossible to find books and resources regarding the construction and design trades--whether for themselves at home, or for their professional lives. Their idea was to create a central location in which to find books, reference materials and software for home builders, architects, contractors, do-it-yourselfers, and consumers. One used to be forced to make myriad trips to bookstores and government publishing offices to find necessary information. Now it can be found under one roof.
    (store history courtesy of their website).

website www.buildersbooksource.com
The bookstore's website is fairly well done and does give online visitors the opportunity to shop the store's inventory online. They offer a basic array of store hours and information, about us, contact, what's new, events and a page of links that was under construction when I visited. They also have pages of titles under the following subjects: Architecture, Building Trades, Homebuilding, Interior Design, Green Building, Landscape, Codes, Engineering, Business/Legal, Urban Design and Graphic Design, and more.

                        inside the store

kudos for things that caught John's eye
    ̶   well-laid out bookstore with a good flow to it
    ̶   clever, attractive, practical fixtures throughout—I can't say this enough—some of the best around
 loved the chairs, much like the ones that our stores had for weary customers
    ̶   the higher ceiling and the light flowing in from the front of the store are great 

maybe change
    ̶  more display tables would be great, but it would be hard to find the room without cramping their style
    ̶  I'm at a loss to come up with more

store hours   (as of this June 2012 review)
Monday-Saturday 8:30am - 7.00pm
Sundays 10:00am - 7:00pm

BB cash wrap 

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