At Cliff’s: 1 of 6 series

A profile on Pasadena’s Second Hand Bookstore.

The vast book collection at Cliff’s.

Located on Pasadena’s Colorado Blvd. in between S. Madison Ave and S. El Molino Ave, there’s this old little book store I like to browse into whenever I’m in town. With its big bold black letters written on top and across its front entrance, it’s hard to miss the store’s name: Cliff’s Books. The store is known for selling second hand books in fair to excellent condition to its customers in an affordable price range. The times I’ve been in there I’ve found Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, George Orwell’s 1984, a large collection of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry – naming a few of many works that I’ve seen in the store. However, from the outside looking in, it’s difficult to spot any one of these familiar titles since most of the items on display in the store’s big front windows show anthropological history and biographies of historic famous people. Taking a quick glaze at the store windows as I walked by, I’ve noticed the display has no connection with the current 21st Century. Most of the items on display appears to have stopped somewhere in the 1960s era. As I move away from the window, the items I see on the store’s book cart are no different – they all lay in stacks ranging from softcover to hardcover books and periodical items – all frozen in the same era. The store’s items – at least from the outside premise – appears to have somehow lost the continuation with time

From the moment I walked in the main entrance, I’m greeted with a strong whiff of books. The smell reminds me of old books lost in a pile of other piles of old books with its paper pages slowly aging away as time passes by. As I make my way through the entrance, my presence is acknowledged by a clerk behind the desk on the left.

Passing by the clerk’s deck, I will notice that in front lies at least five wooden selves all stuffed with books. Taking a casual stroll through one of its aisles, I can’t help but glaze, and become somewhat overwhelmed by all the titles and authors printed on each book’s binding. Passing by the shelves of books, it is easy to lose my concentration on a particular book since there is always another book that will catch my interest. For example, I would be looking at a Dan Brown novel, while simultaneously, I will forget about the present novel and pick up a Stephen King novel that’s within reach.

Because there are many books of interest and their tagged prices are flexible, I can easily overspend not only my money but also my time in the store. I can spend from half an hour to two or more hours merely walking up and down each and every one of the store’s aisle, not sure what will turn up from each shelves’ end. The store appears to encourage its customers to overspend their time since the shelves of books aren’t always organized which makes finding a particular book difficult. However, on the other hand, this system of categorizing book is not only a flaw but it is also a way to allow its customers to see books they would probably not see otherwise if they knew their books’ exact location.

To be continued on Thursday, August 26th.


One thought on “At Cliff’s: 1 of 6 series”

  1. Somehow bookstores like Cliff’s come with a very special scent, the scent of treasure.
    Does anyone think that reading books on paper is really going to disappear?
    Electronic literacy – in every form made possible by computers and global internet communication – expands human cognitive capabilities to a new level far above the original on-parchment invention of the written word. But it hardly excludes the practical utility of the old, on-paper book.

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