The Sunday Salon: Bart’s Books

Happy Mother’s Day! I had a lovely day. The Hub and kids took me out for a Mexican feast and then we headed to Ojai, California which is only about 45 minutes from where we live. We visit often but we’ve never been able to find a decent bookstore there. However, a co-worker of mine reminded me of Bart’s Books. I went looking for this store once before but I never found it. Well, I found it today!

This store is very unique. Can you see why? Most of the collection is housed out in the open! Doesn’t that blow your mind? Apparently, Richard Bartinsdale’s book collection was getting out of hand so he installed bookshelves outside and asked people to drop money into a coffee can if they saw a title that caught their eye. It’s been around since the 60’s and is actually quite large. It was a house at one point, complete with kitchen and living space. They carry a large selection of used titles but I do believe they had some new books as well. If they weren’t new, they were in very good condition.

If you look carefully, you can see the Hub and kids standing on the corner. We thought that was pretty much it for the collection but we were wrong! There is quite a bit to look at inside.

Check out the History section above. Notice the corrugated roof? This is actually in part of a courtyard. I was amazed at the number of books available.

The picture above shows part of the open courtyard, complete with fireplace! This is part of the Fiction section and only a sampling of what they have to offer in the way of Fiction.

This is the other side of the courtyard. There are wrought iron tables and umbrellas all around. Makes it a nice place to spend some time. I wonder if they hold book group meetings there. That would be a nice place to meet, gathered around the fireplace, sipping a favorite beverage.

Check out the kitchen! Guess what was housed in the kitchen? Cookbooks! How completely appropriate! As I walked around, the wooden floors creaked and it really felt as if I was walking around in someone’s personal library.

My kids and Hub were great. They hung out in the children’s section and allowed me to wander aimlessly. It was wonderful! The only downside is that I left my book list at home so I had a hard time remembering the titles on my TBR list. Note to self, need a Blackberry :) Actually I would love an iPhone but I detest AT&T. I digress…

Here I am at the cash register. When the store is closed, they ask that you buy on the honor system and just place your money through a slot in the door. Isn’t that wild? See that tree in the background? Another reminder that I am outside! They also sell soft drinks and coffee for those that want to linger awhile. Special note: the restroom is not a public restroom so be sure to stop at a local convenience store beforehand or you might find yourself hopping from one foot to the other after drinking about 50 ounces of iced tea at lunch. Trust me, it’s not comfortable!

Since I didn’t have my list I ended up with The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff. This is a book club pick for later in the year so that one was easy to remember. I also picked up a copy of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I read it a long time ago and loved it but did not own a copy. On top of my small stack, is a Brighton bookmark that I bought at a different store. I lost my other one last week so I decided to replace it.

All in all it was a fabulous day and I am so excited to have found this store. If you ever visit Ojai be sure to check it out. It’s at the corner of Matalija and Canada. Click here to check out their website.

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38 Responses

  1. That has to be the coolest bookstore I’ve ever seen!! How fun! Great pictures, thank you for sharing them!

  2. What a great bookstore! I can see my house getting to that point one day. LOL It sounds like you had a great day, Ti.

    I look forward to reading your thoughts on The Danish Girl. I really enjoyed the author’s The 19th Wife, which I read last year.

  3. That is the greatest bookstore!!! Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

  4. What a fantastic bookstore! I’d have loved to have wandered around there for the whole day.

  5. I just love that book store. I’ve never seen anything like that in Australia!

  6. What a fun bookstore! I would worry about the weather ruining the books, but I’m a worrywart. I want a smartphone too!

  7. Thanks for the visual tour of Bart’s Books! What an amazing bookstore and one that you could spend quite some time browsing and buying up books. What a unique concept and how trusting of the owners! I love reading about your adventures, makes me want to move to CA!

  8. Wow! That book store is amazing! Glad you had a great time, I want to go there. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Melissa – I had the best time there!! I just love the concept.

    Lit Feline – My shelves are a bit out of control right now so I hear ya. I haven’t read 19th Wife yet but it is on my list too.

    MJM – I wish I could have spent all day there.

    Michelle – I tried to stay there all day but the kidlets got anxious after awhile. Ice cream was calling.

    Kathy – My daughter picked up a book that had a little water damage but I have to say that the books were in really good shape. The weather is so fair there it hardly ever rains.

    Jules – I had so much fun. I already want to go back.

  10. What a great bookstore. I suspect I’d spend a lot of time there if it were close to me. Sounds like a lovely day.

  11. OMG! What a fun place! Thank you for sharing.

  12. Happy belated Mother’s Day! Mexican food and books, it doesn’t get much better than that! That bookstore looks awesome! I’m glad you had such a good time. Thanks for the tip about the restrooms too – practical information like that is priceless. :)

  13. Glad you had a wonderful Mother’s Day. You deserved it. I wish we had bookstores like that where I live.

    –Anna
    < HREF="http://diaryofaneccentric.blogspot.com/" REL="nofollow">Diary of an Eccentric<>

  14. I think there needs to be a drive out to Ojai in my not-too-distant future. This looks like a fun and fascinating place to spend some time (and money, of course). Thanks for sharing!

  15. OMG.. I could spend all day there… What a great place. Glad you had a good time.

  16. Wow that place is a little slice of heaven right there! Glad to hear you had such an awesome Mother’s Day!

  17. What an amazing bookstore! I desperately want to get into that cookbook filled kitchen!

  18. That looks so amazing!! It is so funny though, when I saw the books outside all I could think was: oh no! they are going to get wet!!!

    Silly me, it isn’t in oregon.

    So glad you got to enjoy that time.

  19. That is by far the coolest bookstore I’ve ever seen! I love the cookbooks in a kitchen-what a great idea. I’d love to visit there someday. I’m glad you had a great day Ti.

  20. That place looks awesome!!

  21. What a great post – you had a SUPER mother’s day!!

    Bart’s Books is a true original … thanks for sharing your thoughts and all these great pictures.

    You picked up some nice books, too, along with the Sunday drive and Mexican food! I read REBECCA ages ago and really liked it. THE DANISH GIRL is on “my list” to get and read; it’s < HREF="http://www.sheistoofondofbooks.com/2008/12/13/david-ebershoffs-the-danish-girl-is-being-adapted-to-film-starring-nicole-kidman-and-charlize-theron/" REL="nofollow">being made into a movie!<>

  22. What a fantastic bookstore! It is a bit far from where I live in Orange County, but if I’m out that way I’ll try to remember and stop in for some books. Thanks for letting us know about it.

  23. Amazing place! Thanks for sharing. I’m so jealous!

  24. I know this is an older post, but I have to comment! What a book lovers dream of a bookstore! I am in love! But only in California would that work, I envy all the outdoor amenities y’all have.

  25. Belated happy mother’s day! I can’t believe that bookstore, how amazing. But what if it rains?? Lol.

  26. What an absolutely amazing bookstore!! ( I love that it’s on the corner of Canada St. teehee)

  27. To bad a store like that wouldn’t work in Utah with our snow, but that is seriously the coolest bookstore I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty jealous.

  28. One of the best So. Cal bookstores, I bought a terrific set of art history books there.

  29. I so want to go to this bookstore! Thanks for sharing your pics, Ti. I wish I lived closer! Oh and I have a copy of The Danish Girl too. I want to read it before the movie comes out next year!

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  34. [...] The biggest outdoor bookstore in the world, this photo doesn’t really do the place justice — it’s all about the view. Bart’s Books, Ojai, California [photo via] [...]

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  38. […] The biggest outdoor bookstore in the world, this photo doesn’t really do the place justice — it’s all about the view. Bart’s Books, Ojai, California [photo via] […]

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