Bookstores are one of the most beloved things to a reader. However everyone has their preferences: small independent bookstore, online bookseller, big box store, used bookstore, ect. My personal preference is used bookstores where I can get books often for less than five dollars a piece and sometimes find a great collectible.
My favorite used bookstore is C Mac Neill Bookdealer in Berkley, MI. This small bookstore is owned and operated by one man, but has many gems and is always an enjoyable browse. The fact that I live close to it only makes it better.
Entering the bookstore from the street entrance, a bookshelf begins immediately to my right. On the left an old printing press surrounding by stacks of books, old magazines, periodicals, and encyclopedias sits in the window. There is no sign telling the name of the store, just one neon sign reading “BOOKS” and another saying “OPEN.” I always start by walking straight to the back of the store, where there is an additional entrance from the parking lot, but more importantly where the horror section is. On the way, I pass the counter with a small clear space for checking out, and for the owner to sit tapping at his computer (I assume he is writing a novel, but I’ve yet to ask). An old parlor looking sofa is just past the counter with books enclosing it. These are books people have sold to the store, but have yet to be priced or shelved. However, it you see one you want, he is happy to sell. On the couch is normally an older small dog. Unless it gets up to greet you, you may not even notice it. The dog is incredibly friendly, so it you have a fear of dogs, no worries. It mostly ignores the people in the shop and stays cozy on the couch. Like many used bookstores, C Mac Neill Bookdealer is full to the brim with books, and has the cluttered, cramped, wonderful feeling of any used bookstore.
The selection is generally very good. The horror section is on the small side, and splits a floor to ceiling shelf with westerns. There is a large collection of old scifi, but it is a little difficult to get to (the couch and doggo sitting in front of it). My go to section, general literature, is well stocked and has a variety of books more recently published and old copies and editions of books. There is also a small youth section and poetry section. All this is in the main store row. Walking deeper into the rows, there is a large selection of nonfiction with anything from religion to cook books and from war to engineering. In my many trips there I have yet to notice a specific biography or memoir section, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those are included in other areas of the nonfiction rows. Finally, one row of shelves is dedicated to mysteries, many of the popular authors are included here like, Grisham, Patterson, and Clark.
Once I’ve browsed and selected my books, the owner is always extremely pleasant during check out. Everything is done with cash, as far as I can tell, but he is happy to round up or down to the nearest dollar, or give exact change. As the name of the store suggests, it is a bookdealer and the owner will also buy books and pay in cash. He is willing to help his customers if needed, but seems to like your typical introvert, who will just as happily ignore you until he is needed. Personally, that is the type of customer service I want in a used bookstore. Let me do my thing, unless I need help reaching something (which there are stools available for).
Overall C. Mac Neill Bookdealer is a traditional used bookstore in every sense. Quiet, crammed, hidden gems just waiting on every shelf. If you like used bookstores, you will like this one. Personally, I have never left empty handed, and always enjoy my peaceful trips there. If you are ever in Southeastern, MI, C Mac Neill Bookdealer is a great stop, just make sure you plan an afternoon visit Tuesday through Saturday, as the store has limited hours. I am sure you will find a good deal, or be able to barter for an even better one.