(The only picture I did not take)
Seeing several reviews on reddit.com about collecting rare and hard to find to books, two people from two different posts asked me if I have ever been to Sandman Book Company, in Punta Gorda Florida. Having proudly visited 90% of Florida's used book stores in traveling, I had to admit I never had. Being less than twenty minutes away from the house, what excuse do I have? I bet I've driven by fifty times or more, one time in 2014 even looking through the window when they were closed, having seen the "Book Arch" on their facebook as it was being built. Shame on me. I once stopped by for their grand opening week, only to not buy anything and go home.
Well from the picture above, with me standing under their masterfully built Book Arch, I obviously made time to go down and check it out. The chalkboard right in front of my feet says to touch the arch, take pictures, etc. There was small lights installed in the arch, and is much cooler to see in person. A ton of work went in to making something so creative, so much so I'm wondering if I should build one in my house! God knows I have enough books.
This place is massive. It's obvious it has undergone several expansions over the years, as each section had it's own feel, custom built bookcases- or bookcases bought and altered for this purpose, chairs, stools, and crown molding throughout. The size is comparable to the Books-a-Million in the Edison Mall, but packed with way more books. I get the nerdy/hipster feel to the whole place, while staying appealing to mostly everyone. Romance novels are partitioned in another huge space to keep the old ladies out of the way of real book collectors like me, and I appreciate that.
I'm really not in the business of reviewing stores, but I honestly liked this place so much, I found myself just taking pictures of all the little curiosities. I had feeling, a strange feeling mind you, that someone invited me here.. like the owner or something, and we are friends and I'm happy to accept their invitation. My wife made the remark, "If they had coffee, I may not leave." The selection of vintage Science Fiction and Fantasy paperbacks and hard covers, is by the far the largest I have seen outside of Tampa, and that is saying something. The organization is similar to the way I have my books put away at my house. The anthologies are separate, popular authors, you have your area over here. Tolkien lovers, please come this way.
As some people know from previous posts, I'm a HUGE fan of Ace Doubles, which are very hard to find in the wild, but can be had easily enough on Amazon and eBay for a few bucks a pop. I refuse to by them on eBay because of shipping variances, and the whole market flux has been driving prices up for no reason at all really. Sandman Book Co. has two full shelves of Ace Doubles, another shelf of old science fiction mags, and countless sets, boxed sets.. I mean the books were literally everywhere. If you noticed, the books are bagged and well taken care of.
They use a shrink wrap machine, or bag any book deemed "rare", and they have two different kinds of stickers, no trade stickers, yellow stickers, I could go on. Each book is in inventory, and is priced individually. This is a giant undertaking for the amount of books that are in this space, and I understand now why they have volunteers who work for them! Back to the pricing for a second, and I think the only reason I may not make this a regular trip. Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely in love with this book store, and want to move in right away and never leave. The individual price on the books often does not make sense. The average price for a paperback is around $3.50, with some of the harder to find uncommon books hovering around the $7-$9 range. Rightfully so, often times that is the selling price or going rate on Amazon, Ebay, etc. See above, Warrior of Scorpio, an uncommon book at $98.00 in wonderful shape. Typically sells for around $6 on eBay, but is way undervalued in my opinion. Who came up with this price, and why $98.00? Master of Five Magics, on the other hand is right in the ballpark. I have both books, and did not need them, but started to wonder on the validity of pricing system. I noticed at least ten different items that were priced incorrectly, at a glance. Overall, pricing is medium to high, but I would rather give my money to this locally owned book store than random ebay/amazon sellers. One last small thing: The books that are not bagged or wrapped, the sticker is placed on the book itself. On some of the older books, this could be an issue, but I prefer this to the dreaded stamp of doom. Better of two evils... and so it goes.
Rarer offerings were locked up in a few display cases scattered around the store. Easton Press books are my weakness, but everything was priced as new, no deals here. A signed copy of "The Last Unicorn" was priced to sell at $300.00, which with signed books, may or may not be a deal depending on edition, and if the person is still alive.. etc. In this particular case, I know Peter Beagle is alive, touring, and still signing books at conventions. My book intuition is telling me the owner is a young 30-something who would prefer to hold on to this book for the love of the movie/story/culture. I love rare books, I love this place, I'm saying it again. At this point in my tour a black cat stopped by and loved on me for a second, which gave me the warm fuzzies and solidified my choice in coming, yet again.
I took one last look around, took a few more pictures, scooped up family playing checkers under the arch, and made my way out the door. I bought seven books, spent $38.00, which is way over my budget. This is not the kind of place that I would go to weekly looking for deals or things on a bargain shelf tucked away, but this is a place I will go to at least once a month, referencing pictures of the shelves I've taken to see If I need anything. I know what I need and what they have me on.. those damn Ace Doubles! I need around half of them, and I might have all of them. Movie tie in books! They have their own section, which delights me to no end. This is one place I can honestly say has more books than I do, even in my select genre(s). I could easily spend $500 in this store and still want things! I'm almost certain the inventory from One for the Books, and the Book Rack may have ended up here in some way. Anyways, Thank you Sandman Book Company, I will be back, and I'll raise more money for next trip. This post is going long, so I'll put my haul on a different post.
Sandman Book Company - @sandmanbooks #bookbridge
16480 Burnt Store Rd. Punta Gorda FL
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Bonus: We ate at The Celtic Ray - Public House in down town Punta Gorda.