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university press books

2430 Bancroft Way
Berkeley CA 94704
(510) 548-0585
(800) 676-8722
(October 2009 review)

upb browsing overall feel & design
Approaching UPB you're greeted by a most attractive, and very narrow, storefront filled with books displayed high and low to tease your eyes—they dare you to just walk on by. Once you have entered the bookstore, you quickly learn that the space is truly narrow, but it intriguingly snakes back and forth, again and again, until you reach the garden space in the back. The ceiling is high, and a balcony starts with some stairs near the front door, houses a number of book sections and some collectable books towards the back, and has open offices scattered around as it descend the rear stairs near the garden door. Back there is a good-sized events room. This room has a large table for book displays and to host their monthly Slow Reading Dinners.
(About that, I yield to the description from their website.)

Join us around UPB’s great table, where we will eat and talk about reading in the slow lane. We will enjoy wine and edibles featuring many ingredients gathered from the Berkeley Hills. We ask everyone to bring a paragraph or a few words you love that must be read carefully, and savored slowly.
They charge $40 to attend ($20 for students), but there is food and wine and it promises a good time.)

The height of the ceiling, and the openness of the whole design of the store make this a most attractive place to browse and be amazed at how many fine books are published—so far beyond just the bestsellers that you see at most every other bookstore.

Whenever we have been in the store, the people working at UPB always seem friendly and helpful. They act like they want to be there. One bit of a bummer for us—and granted in was just one time—but when Vicky special ordered a book from them, it surprisingly took several weeks to arrive, with no explanation. But with this store's unusual stock, it must be a kick to work there. 

the selection
The stock is truly a class act, and the names of the sections indicate how wide-ranging the subjects carried are: Late Antiquity and Medieval Studies, Disability, Irish Studies, Cognitive Science, Printers & Publishers, and so many more. About 70% of the inventory is from academic publishers, and the remaining 30% are trade books. When you're in the world of university presses, I think your mind opens itself up to more interests. Their collectables is another very rich section that teased me to buy. They have a small magazine and newspaper area in the front, along with some cool greeting cards, blank books, and seemingly countless other interesting goods. I hope they still sell the bumper sticker that we picked up there.
upb bumper sticker
I love to wander and browse this store so much. You can wander down this side, spin around to look at something on a floor fixture, and then duck through the little door into a tiny, short room for kids. Go back, go up, come down...so many directions, too little time. You will never find another bookstore with an inventory as far-reaching as University Press. It's a special home for these gems.

upstairs display
The store's front windows are the first tipoff that this store's staff like to show off books. The wide range of titles on display there let you know you're in for a special collection of books.  Inside the store you quickly realize that they have something interesting to look at, all over the place. Look around some more and you'll realize that there's an upstairs full of books as well.

Because the store is narrow, you find yourself very close to the walls full of books, and then you might notice that the shelf at eye level in most sections is used as a display space of special books, they're all face-out. As you can see in this photo, they use any horizontal surface, upstairs and down, to successfully display tons of books.

store events

The website lists a few events, but I haven't had the chance to attend any, so I have nothing to add..

website www.universitypressbooks
Because I just love it, I have to quote the greeting on their homepage.

Welcome to UPB/Berkeley.
We aim to be an ideal place in Berkeley to see, sample, discuss, and buy books published by the great English-language university presses, an intellectual and literary realm of infinite richness, ever renewing.
We think you are an intellectual and you read like a pro. We want you. Come see us. Be a Friend of UPB.

There is a lot of information on their website, about their programs, collectibles, bestsellers, and, sadly, that the store is struggling financially and is looking to get a new partner to bring in new energy and much-needed funds. They do have a Friends of UPB to try and help their money situation, which is something that we used successfully for many years in our own bookstores. This very special store needs and deserves your support.

kudos for things that caught John's eye
   —  the books, the books, the books
   —  the layout makes this an interesting place to check out, with many different little spaces
     their cards are unique, something you won't see everywhere, and the books are fabulous
maybe change
   —  the signing is pretty small and uninspired, but it you can make it out
   —  because of the many twists and turns in the layout, they have chosen to use a large number of security cameras throughout the bookstore, it just seems like overkill, a bummer of a reflection on people

university press books  upb customer

store hours (as of this October 2009 review)
Monday-Friday 10am-8pm
Saturday 10am-6pm
Sundays Noon-5pm

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