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walden pond books

great recommendations
& a real part of the neighborhood
3316 Grand Avenue 
Oakland CA 94610
(510) 832-4438
(January 2012 review)

overall feel & design
This is easily one of our favorite bookstores in the area. The physical appearance of the store is funky, well-worn, and comfortable. There are no bright colors and shiny new fixtures...it's mostly books and wood...my favorite combination. The big front display windows let in a lot of light and the high ceiling gives this large store a wonderful feeling of SPACE. And it's a space that's stuffed full of great books waiting to be read and reread. Out in front are several racks of used books, "priced to move"...as the phrase goes. The bookstore is very connected to the exciting Grand Avenue / Piedmont area. This area has become one of our favorites because of this bookstore, the nearby Mountain View Cemetery, and all the fine shops and restaurants that abound around. We have been to Walden Pond Books countless times, but I keep discovering new things with each visit. One thing we did clued in on immediately, was how good this store is. This is one of those stores that is not afraid to recommend countless books to its customers...books the staff have read and believe in—they aren't pushing product. Let's just say, "Real Books & Real People."

The staff at Walden Pond Books is one of the best in the Bay Area. They know to welcome you to the store, and you know they're aware of you, and ready to help you anytime you need it. They always seem well trained, interested and knowledgeable. I've never had one of those automated, bored, book clerk "Can I help you...because you're in MY WAY." sorts of conversations with anyone there. In short, they're good people.
walden inside

the selection
The selection runs, in quantity,  to almost all corners of the book world. Thankfully I haven't seen an e-book advertised here yet, but there is always a good selection of the new hardcovers and paperbacks just released. They don't get in everything, nobody tries to do this anymore, but they do get in so many of the books that the two of us find interesting. {Hey, I never said that these reviews were anything but personal opinion.} The store is mostly filled with used, sale, and rare books, with some CDs, DVDs, calendars, blank books, cards and other nonbook items sprinkled about, but the selection of new book sections are well-thought out and are really what keeps us coming back. We always find it interesting to see what books the buyers have chosen to bring in...out of all that's out there. I also seem to find a new section of books every time we go, it's amazing at times. Sure, they could have nicer shelves and a flashier look, but the guts of the store are these wonderful books all over AND the knowledgeable staff that can recommend and find them, or direct you to them.
amos & kip The large and beautiful Amos and Kip can be found out in front of the bookstore just about every day. They're very good natured. If they don't move, just step over them...they don't mind...neither should you.

First you see the store's big sign. Then you see the long outside racks of low-priced books, and two very large white dogs. Then it's the large, front display windows that offer a good peek to sidewalk goers as to what the store has to offer. Once you're inside, there is a sales counter that's covered in all manner of goods, a card and blank book area, and a few other scattered end caps and tables for other displays, but the displays that catch most eyes are the new hardcover and paperback display areas. The hardcovers are on two (fiction & nonfiction) long stepped displays that show them off well, and make it so tempting to pick them up and flip through their pages. The paperbacks are faced-out on some tall bookcases that included many notes of recommendation...notes you will find, and enjoy, all around the store. 

store events
Walden Pond Books list of store events includes some off-site events (at the Hillside Club in Berkeley) that they're involved in, as well as hosting The East Bay Mystery Readers' Group on the first Tuesday of every month.

website www.waldenpondbooks.com
The site has life and a style all its own. You can learn about past events and special contests the store has around the major book awards. You'll find all types of book recommendations and see some nice pictures of the beautiful dogs of Walden Pond. You can find out about, and link to, the local authors of the area, and there is a special page just for telling you about the neighborhood. Do check out their links page...it's better than the average bear. They also have a page dedicated to the staff that allows each staff member to pick their own photo, as well as show comments about the store and staff found online at Yelp, and the like. There are also pages to let you know about some of their rare books, and another page (favorite books) that gives you a hint about how eager the staff is to recommend a good book to you. This website, like the bookstore itself, is a treat to visit...but do make sure to go to the bookstore, pat the dogs, and be surrounded by good books and book people.   

walden pond 

kudos for things that caught John's eye
   —  all of the informative book recommendations throughout the store
   —  it took more than just my eye, but the great vibe this place has about loving books
        and being a true part of a community
   — it has a really nice lived-in feeling

walden sign

maybe change
   —  they could spruce up the fixtures and do some painting
   —  bringing in some more sidelines, could broaden the appeal to more people
   —  but' I'm just fine if they keep on doing all the good things they're doing right

store hours (as of this January 2012 review)
Sunday-Thursday 10am-9pm
Fridays & Saturdays 10am-10pm

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