home | blog | site map | bookstore travelers | reviews | book awards     24books.org

a beautiful store
full of
new hardcovers


522 Hartz Ave.
Danville CA 94526
(925) 837-7337
(October 2009 review)

overall feel & design
Rakestraw Books has been in Danville for more than thirty years and their new Hartz Avenue location (since April '09) draws you in. With those alluring and colorful new books sitting in their big front windows, any self-respecting book lover must go inside. As you enter, you're presented with a very appealing and roomy bookstore that strongly showcases new hardcovers in every section. The store features a large main room and couple of smaller rooms for children's books at one end. The layout is wide open and the freedom is all yours, follow sections around the walls, or go from table to table, however you choose to enjoy. Some times it doesn't seem that the related and complimentary sections are near each other, but the signing makes it quite easy to find whatever area you are seeking. On the afternoon we visited the store, the light was spilling through the front windows and warmly illuminating the store, especially the wonderful array of brightly colored walls. The bookstore's floor is simply sheets of some type of sealed OSB strand board or chipboard ... which sounds odd ... but seemed to work here, especially offset by the variety of attractive area rugs scattered throughout the store. Besides the wall shelves, there are clusters of floor cases and tables spread tastefully around the space. The fixtures are a pleasant mix of straightforward, plain bookstore shelves, others fixtures much more akin to furniture and antique, as well as some modern styled tables, and some casual props for display. It's a very good, fresh and clean look.

3.22.2011 - Update on Rakestraw visit:
My original visit to Rakestraw was, I believe, shortly after their move to the new location and I went there a few times after that...until read. opened and all my energy went into getting it operational. I agreed with John's assessment of our first trip but, today, we stopped by and I found a much more inviting vibe. I was asked by both booksellers if I needed help, offered to have the book I was seeking ordered, and had an interesting conversation about books (what else?) with one of the staff. Although I still think the stock is light, I found much to browse, and more importantly, felt comfortable doing it. Rakestraw is a lovely place to be. One nitpick: they don't carry much in the way of non-book items and I felt like something was missing. Done correctly, they only offer enhancement of the book buying experience. - Vicky

We only spoke to the one bookseller briefly, but we got a good recommendation for lunch at Mangia Mi. There was only one other shopper there at the time and the bookseller was busy answering the phone.

the selection
Rakestraw is a unique bookstore, in that they have concentrated on new books almost entirely. We're talking new, as in those books published in just the last few years. The other major difference is the total number of hardcovers books in every section is large and backlist titles are for the most case not there. In most sections, with both hardcovers and paperbacks, there are large numbers of copies of each of the newest titles (mostly spine out, hard for us as booksellers to resist turning them face out to show of the covers) and much fewer of their older titles. This limits the overall title selection and concentrates the attention on the newest of the new. The new titles cover a fair range of the major publishers, but the smaller presses don't seem to show up often. There are quite a few new children's books, as well as a full section of books for teens ... the number of new hardcover teen titles impressed me for volume. All this being said, there are some very intriguing books all through Rakestraw and we did pick up a mystery.
When it comes to nonbook items, there are some audio books on CD and not much of anything else, they are definitely focused on new books.

This is a gorgeous place to display books. Because of  Rakestraw's open and roomy presentation, even the books on lower shelves and under tables are easily seen and inviting ... not unseen and unloved as in more tightly arranged stores. They have some nice props for displays, and lots of tables to show their wares. The good lighting, the use of color in the shop, and interesting fixtures and props, really helps to compliment the book covers as well. There's a table of Indie Bound titles that had only hardcovers and was only about half full, but there was a well-done table of staff recommendations.

store events 
Judging by the October listing, this is one well-connected bookstore, with an impressive list of upcoming events. Just to name drop, there is:  A.S. Byatt, Jeannette Walls, Francine Prose, Timothy Egan, Caption Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (local guy), Alicia Silverstone, among others. The events happen in the bookstore and at other sites around town. They do charge for some events as fundraisers for different groups in the area. 

website www.rakestrawbooks.com
The website is tastefully done, but much more minimal than many stores offer. It focuses on their  list of upcoming events, a page of Rakestraw's Readers Recommends, and links to its Facebook listing of events, some high praise for the store on Yelp, and several other links. Online ordering is not an option here.                                     


kudos for things that caught John's eye
    ̶  love the vibrant colors around the store and while it's not my favorite floor, it does make a statement

? maybe change
    ̶  add some paperback and backlist titles, create a new paperback display
    ̶  expand the website beyond events listings ... tell online visitors more
    ̶  a few more nonbook items would compliment the books
    ̶  some sections, such as science fiction and mystery left us wanting more and others like poetry, self help, and most how to books ... seem to be barely there or missing 

store hours (as of this October 2009 review)
Monday-Thursday 9am - 6pm
Friday 9am - 7pm
Saturdays 9am - 5pm
Sundays noon - 5pm


home | blog | site map | bookstore travelers | reviews | book awards | to the top