Chicago >Shopping > Myopic Books
1564 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL | Directions 6062241.909915 -87.676874
Monday To Friday From 11:00 AM To 01:00 AM Saturday From 11:00 AM To 01:00 AM Sunday From 11:00 AM To 10:00 PM
Neighborhoods: Wicker Park, West Side
Excellent local book store that exudes such a unique personality. Go inside to explore and wander through the ceiling high stacks. Definitely a book lover's haven.
Warning: Set aside at least two hours to lose yourself amongst the shelves of this stellar book shop. Fab open mic events.
Sweet little shop that operates in a slightly we-wish-for-yesterday mindset. Not exactly well-versed in highly collectible books and not exactly in step with modernity either. Upon stepping in to its space, which was mostly empty, I had a undetectable vibration in my pocket which resulted in my answering my phone in a near whisper. Why such hush-hush tones? Well, as a former library employee, starting a the age of 10 - and in a era when spinster maid head librarians STERNLY shushed you - as well as having owned one of the better antiquarian bookstores in the Northeast, it just still stands as a rule of etiquette for me. The store clerks, who had been babbling aloud among themselves, were horrified, and I was rushed upon by the very spirit of the spinster maid librarian in the form of one gay-bear-'ish-looking chap and some silly exchange took place in which a NO CELLPHONES-type sign was pointed out to me, which one would have to guess they assume everyone gravitates to upon entry. And the purpose of enforcing such a rule when I, the phone user, was speaking so low that even my traveling companion standing next to me couldn't hear me? Perhaps there's the fear that someone on the street might peer in, see me, and run screaming down the street that cellphone use in now permitted in the shop, thereby producing a rush of undesirables into their establishment, cellphones pressed to their ears. Maybe it’s just a case of the old spinster adage: "If we let YOU use your cellphone, we would have to let EVERYONE use their cellphone." Retail anal-retention aside, they allowed me to actually be a customer in their shop, but when it actually came to the business of two very highly collectible books for which I was searching, they proved to be absolute amateurs. I inquired about a specialized Non-Fiction Nature/Ecology subject by an early 20th-Century writer who huge popularity at the time was due to her success as a romance novel writer. Upon being given the titles by me, he proved that his knowledge of her extended itself to only her mediocre and low-priced novels which fetch, at tops, $50 a volume for mint, 1st editions. "No, no," I explained, "I'm looking for two of her obscure Non-Fiction works." Amidst the confusion, I think I also heard him say they don't have an inventory of their books on their computer. Did he have section for fine books, I inquired? A locked case perhaps? He pointed me to a case at the end of the counter. I went to the case, which was blocked off and had a sign saying "Ask for assistance." I asked for assistance and more confusion ensued on his part as he tried to direct me to their Nature section. “THOSE books,” he very smartly informed me about the locked case books, “are around $50 and UP.” When I informed him that the two volumes, for which I’ve been searching for some years, are valued STARTING at $350 for mint First Editions, he scrambled quickly to prove his knowledge of her work by pulling up a list FROM THE INTERNET that included digital and kindle editions of her romance novels which, as he was also quick to point out, were “driving down the prices of her print versions.” I finally had to laugh. A bookstore full of wanna-be late 20th Century spinster librarians whose limited knowledge of fine and collectible books is only surpassed by their misguided attempts to prove to a collector like me that they know more about books than someone who has worked in, bought, and sold books for over 40 years? Can someone just get me to John King Books in Detroit or The Strand in New York City RIGHT NOW? At least there I can pick up my cellphone and call fellow buyers I shop for with news of what’s available and drive up sales for THOSE stores. This one is too busy PRACTICING to be a bookstore to ever actually sell to a serious collector.
Will implode under its own massive attitude problem – "Employees too surly to work in fast food" - This comment is accurate. We witnessed shocking and unacceptable behavior by an employee of the store and insisted adamantly on speaking to the management about it, but were given a snotty, dismissive response. From this we can infer that behavior that would certainly get the employee fired from food service jobs is tolerated in this store. There is also a very consistent history of customer complaints on this subject of staff ineptitude and bad attitude. The owner of the store lives out-of state and cannot supervise his employees, so they think they can be openly hostile and abusive towards the customers and get away with it. These neurotic children have a self-image so unrealistic as to give the impression that they are mentally ill.
Bookworms will love burrowing through this dense Wicker Park book exchange. – In Short
A neighborhood fixture since before Wicker Park was hipster ground-zero, this is one of the quirky, inviting places that made the neighborhood so cool in the first place. Besides some division by genre, fiction is all lumped together on the ground and upper floors with little effort toward segregating the "literature" from the rest. Nonfiction, especially history and social sciences, is a strength here; there's considerable depth to the collections. Though there might be several copies of popular titles in stock, there's little duplication on the shelves.
Don't wear a watch – Myopic is one of my favorite places to troll for hours for used books. The staff are engaging, the selections are broad and thoughtful, and the setting is functional if not fancy. Some of the aisles will either seem claustrophobic or like a good way to meet a special friend. Glad to see them in their new space; better light, and the upstairs sitting room with the bay window overlooking Milwaukee Avenue traffic is much more inviting than the old spot facing the alley and the el.
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