An ode to Pulp Fiction Books, and used book stores in general


pulp fiction windowOne thing I’ve always loved about Pulp Fiction Books on Main Street is the two sets of shelves that flank the front door. Each cubby hole houses two books — one facing the window, the other turned to the store. The selection of books on display seems to change pretty frequently, and often lures me in for a browse.

Pulp Fiction is well organized, with diverse offerings of both new and used books. There’s a sense of regular turnover in the used book shelves, and an attention to quality that only allows for a certain caliber of book in a specific range of genres to be placed upon the shelves. The “Books We Never Take” section on their website might come across as elitist, but hey, the store’s on the smaller side and shelf space is limited. I am thankful they are picky about what they put on their shelves, and thankful for the people of the neighborhood who contribute to the used book selection. After all, a used bookstore is only as good as what its customers read, isn’t it?

If you can’t find what you want on the shelves, the friendly staff at Pulp Fiction will also order books for you, with prices that are usually better than or at least the same as what you’d find on They’ve even found me books that Amazon doesn’t have in stock, or are out of print. And who would you rather support? — a  local, independent bookstore or a Seattle-based megacompany that sells everything under the sun, including Kindles, groceries, and even web space. If you’re living in or visiting Vancouver, love books, and haven’t been to Pulp Fiction yet, what are you waiting for? There are now three locations, so go take a look. Pulp Fiction Books, like any great used book store, is easy to get lost in  and who knows what you might find in the shelves?

Speaking of bookshelves, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile has recently been added to mine. (Yes, that’s a link to… Amazon — they’re great curators!) Nassim Taleb, the essayist, statistician, and former-trader-turned-philosopher (of Black Swan fame), convincingly argues on multiple occasions that books are not going anywhere anytime soon. Because the technology of the book is so robust, the experience of reading a five-hundred-year-old copy is not much different from reading a modern one. In many walks of life, things have not changed as much as we think they have, and Taleb writes that he “would expect the future to be populated with wall-to-wall bookshelves”. Great used book stores like Pulp Fiction, Powell’s (Portland), and Elliot Bay Book Company (Seattle) are still going strong, providing us with a medium for serendipitous discoveries (an experience their digital counterparts have yet to replicate) and continuously standing testament to the longevity of the printed book.


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