a.k.a. My Happy Place.
As Paul Gaugin once said (and Tom Robbins later plagiarized), "The ugly is sometimes beautiful. The pretty -- never." This place ain't pretty. It is, however, beautiful. Hooked on Books is the best little bookstore on the Front Range.
First, I think you deserve fair warning about the ugly. There have been some reviews "around" that mention rude service from the staff. I'm pretty sure they're all talking about the same person, and, well... yeah. I've been coming to this bookstore for thirty years, and I have yet to see even a glimmer of recognition in that one employee's glance. Don't take it personally. See the guy in the blue apron who actually comes out from behind the counter? Ask him. He's MUCH more helpful.
(Actually, I think every good bookstore needs one standoffish, borderline rude employee to lend the place a little credibility. Have you never been to the Tattered Cover? Do you not remember the Chinook, for God's sake? That place was Wax Trax with books!)
There are some who would think the decor is also ugly. I am not one of them. To me, a towering pile of more-or-less alphabetized books is all the decor a place like this could need. The comfy, overstuffed reading chairs are there. I don't need them to come from Ethan Allen. Others might find the general fiction section to be a bit overwhelming. It snakes around and between several other sections in a coil that seems to change direction every time I start to get a handle on it. That's where the aforementioned Helpful Bookman comes in handy: he's there to help. Seriously. He's always RIGHT THERE. I don't know how he does it.
Here's the beautiful.
First of all, the smell. That alone can completely change the kind of day I'm having. Sometimes, I'll just go to Hooked on Books to stand in the back and breathe. The books-to-square-foot ratio in there is astonishing.
Second of all, Mary. She's the owner, and she's wonderful. She's built an unpretentious little empire in that strip mall, and she's kept me in books my whole life. She's not always there, but when she is, I get a smile and a greeting by name. Keeping that little bookstore afloat for thirty years has always been a labor of love... and a love of books. She's built a little place that feels like home.
Then there's the selection. Sure, the prices are better at garage sales, but this is Colorado Springs, and I'm not looking for back issues of guns and ammo. I'm looking for all the books on my Amazon wishlist that I'd much rather buy from local businesses, instead of the online behemoth that's killing them. The general fiction section is quite extensive, with a good selection of recent releases in excellent condition. The sci-fi section is much more organized, and the selection is the best I've found in Colorado. The used books in this section tend to be a little more beat-up, but there are also several cases of discounted new releases. The history section, unlike those in most used bookstores, is no mere textbook depository, and the Colorado history section is downright impressive. Even the dirt-cheap clearance cart out on the sidewalk has a pretty good selection. And yes, they have The Hunger Games.
This is the first place I look for the books I want to read, and it's usually the last. It's my favorite.
Have been a regular here for a good reason!. Since we moved to the area in 2008, I've been a regular at Hooked at Books. They provide fair trade on what I bring in. Sure, sometimes some books don't get accepted, but that is how it is at any used bookstore. Prices are reasonable and the selection is great. I enjoy going to the coffee table to pour myself a (free!) cup of coffee to drink while I browse the shelves. All the staff have been very friendly to me every time. I even bring out-of-town visitors here! I highly recommend this bookstore.
Never going back here.
"Eh" Does not even begin to express how much I loathe this place. Yes, it has a somewhat good selection, but the decor is horrible. I get they're in a small space, but it just looks terrible.
The reasons I'm giving this place one star, despite the good selection, are price and customer service.
First off the price, it's stopped being a major competitor for other used bookstores. Books that are in poor condition do not fetch a good price. Yeah, we all want garage sale price for books, but they don't even charge half for used books, which is the going rate. Half price on retail is normal for used books, and I don't want to spend 80% of the price on a used book.
And second, and this is the major one: CUSTOMER SERVICE, which in my opinion, is THE most important factor no matter where you go; I will not return to a location where the people were ********. I flat out won't. It doesn't matter how good the product is; if you are a jerk, you're not worth my time.
I have talked to other people about this, and they have had rude responses too. I do not know if this is one person, or consistent among the staff. This is a major problem. It's a book store. Be happy.
This is what turned me off to Hooked on Books pretty much forever:
I took in some old pre 1950s books to be appraised. From the research I did, they were worth probably 100 bucks total. Maybe more, and this is including the used price of books.
Now watching pawn stars, I get it depends on the market and whatnot, but I was still thinking I could get a fair price for them, so I took them down there to be appraised. After over an hour and a half of waiting where of the three people there, nobody came over to see how I was doing, they were doing who the heck knows what behind the counter. They came back with ten of the like twenty plus books and said, we can give you eighteen dollars for them. Eighteen dollars? That's less than two bucks a book. I'm thinking not. So I said, "No I'm going to pass." They gave me no information on the books. Absolutely none, and then this witch of a woman said essentially,
"Don't do this again. We will charge you for it, and OUR time is valuable."
Whoa. How's that for customer service? I've seen other reviews on this place, and they say the customer service was awesome, and I flat out don't believe, they don't ask if they can help you, and to top it all off saying to a CUSTOMER, "OUR time is valuable", I was so mad I was about to slap her.
It's a freaking bookstore. When I went there often, I NEVER saw more than two other people there. Never. They don't have anything to do, so an hour out of THEIR all important time, not mine, isn't going to hurt them when they don't do a damn thing there.
So yeah. I am not going to return to this bookstore again. I don't care. I will order books online and get better customer service. That lady, and apparently some others there are jerks, and I won't be returning.
I do not recommend going here at all. Order online. It may be more expensive, but barely, and you wont' have to put up with their crap.
best bookstore ever!!. At the risk of sounding pedantic and/or pretentious, I love to read. I have been to bookstores all over the USA and Europe and this is simply the best there is! By the way, the staff at City Lights in San Francisco were rude, the Strand in NYC is vastly overrated and Shakespeare and Co. in Paris has the history and location but not the selection. Hooked On Books is my all time favorite.
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