BookBuyers leaving downtown Mountain View, seeks new home

Dwindling sales force used bookstore to close after 25-plus years

BookBuyers, the used bookstore that has been a mainstay in downtown Mountain View for more than 25 years, will be closing its Castro Street location in the coming weeks due to lackluster sales.

Store owner Hotranatha Ajaya said he fully intends to keep the popular store open, and is searching for a new home for the business and its inventory of more than 300,000 titles.

Ajaya said he recently informed the bookstore's staff of the news and assured them he was working to find a new location. He said moving out of the current location became necessary as the business fell behind on rent.

His landlord has been "unbelievably good" in supporting the business despite its losses, he added.

As it stands, BookBuyers will close its doors in mid-April with plans to be out of the space by the end of May. Ajaya said he had a lead on a potential new space for the business in Mountain View, but no deal had been finalized yet. His business needs a space of at least 5,000 square feet, and he urged anyone with a lead on a new location to contact him.

Most of all, he said he wanted to assure his customers and employees that he would do his best to keep the business going. Always optimistic, he said the "silver lining" is his business had been seeing strong numbers at its literary events and other activities, even though that didn't translate into sales.

"We're still committed to keep this going and to increase our community involvement in the process," he said. "Many people are coming in here and this is definitely a happier place. The only thing that's not helping us right now is sales."

BookBuyers' landlord, Leslie Mills, said she has tried her best to help the bookstore as it struggled in recent years. On two occasions, she said she had agreed to drop the rent to get the business back on its feet. But as the store began falling behind on its payments, she approached Ajaya to see if he would scale down his business. In the end, they couldn't find a way to make that idea work, she said.

Mills said she hopes Ajaya, whom she described as "the hardest working guy," will find a way to keep the bookstore going, perhaps with the help of an outside investor.

"I really would like them to stay, but unfortunately, maybe books are just a thing of the past," Mills said. "If people truly love this place, they need to step up."

Ajaya has long been upfront with his clientele that his bookstore was skating on thin ice. Last April, he announced that BookBuyers was on the verge of closing but he pledged to make a last stand to save the business.

On Monday, Ajaya told the Voice that the same philosophy was behind his effort to resurrect BookBuyers in a new location.

"We refuse to give in until it becomes impossible to go forward," he said. "I think these things are forcing us to do what we need to do. I see this as a positive even though it's really nerve-wracking."

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12 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 16, 2016 at 10:57 am

Book Buyers has been an excellent source of books for students reports. When the only copy at the library has been checked out, we use our account to get a 'free' copy at their store. This works really well for history, literature and social sciences.
They are also great for airplane reads. You can take the book and leave it at your destination for someone else to read.
We have been using their services since they were in downtown Palo Alto. Hope they can survive.

20 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 16, 2016 at 11:51 am

How refreshing to read that his "landlord has been 'unbelievably good' in supporting the business despite its losses."

10 people like this
Posted by lindaloo
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 16, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Absolutely heartbreaking -- yet, not unexpected. I so hope the owner finds another location in Mountain View. I've got a box packed up and ready to trade in on my account; I'd better hustle and get it over there.

The vibe is wonderful inside the store; I can always find someone who enjoys my favorite author -- something that is rare for me in "real life".

If I had my wish, an angel investor would sponsor this business for life -- and beyond!

A true treasure.

15 people like this
Posted by Cal Ave?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 16, 2016 at 8:11 pm

The nice, large corner spot occupied by the stationary store that is moving seems ideal.

4 people like this
Posted by Was Just There
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2016 at 11:14 pm

@lindaloo - They suspended trading as of 3/14/16. It makes sense, as they have so many books to have to pack up and move that they would not want to take on any additional items right now. If anything, they would like to lessen the inventory so that there is less to move.

Additionally, anyone with credit should use it.

New hours are Sun-Thur, 11-9; Fri-Sat 11-11, per sign posted on door 3/14/16.

They are still continuing with most of their planned events* throughout the rest of this month.

I wish Book Buyers the best of luck in finding a new location. Book stores are a wonderful place to be and a scarcity these days (especially the independent ones).

*Upcoming events:

3/17, 7:30PM- Author Talk with Elizabeth Stitt (author of "Parenting as a second Language")

3/21, 8PM- Chess Tournament

3/24, 8PM- Open Mic Night

3/28, 7-9PM- Game Night

Book lovers should come out and support them!

4 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 17, 2016 at 12:07 am

This place has been all over, so I expect they will find somewhere else to set
up as long as there is a market for books ... remember books?

Wonderful place, spent lots of time there, and money. Totally great for finding
audiobooks & CDs.

One other great thing is that they used to have the cleanest restroom in
Mountain View. Gotta love a business that maintains a cleaning functioning

Don't make it over to Mtn. View as much as I used to and I miss browsing
this place, what a community asset. Sounded really nice how helpful the
landlord was.

5 people like this
Posted by Book Lover
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2016 at 12:26 am

I've traded with them for so many years. The place is really a rat's nest, but that's part of the charm. It's such fun to go in, browse the aisles, come out with a ton of books and yet spend so little. The travel and travel essay sections are tops. It's a browsing sort of place, and people just don't want to take that kind of time anymore. Click, click on Amazon. Also, note that Not So Knew Books in Los Altos (formerly on CA AVE in PA) closed. The Iranian rug man who took over the space said that they, too, just didn't get the clients. I patronize and order books from Books, Inc. (instead of Amazon), especially in MV even though it's farther for me to drive. It needs the financial help more than the T&C store in PA that has a thriving client base. Also, PA library serves its residents well, as they are very responsive in ordering new books upon request. Except, sometimes one can be #47 (rarely) in line waiting for a new book. They actually are pretty good about keeping multiple copies. Palo Alto Friends of the Library competes with Bookbuyers. Their proceeds do go to the PA library system. At their new section in the Mitchell Park Library, ardbacks are $2, paperbacks $1. They also have a monthly sale at the rear of the Cubberley complex.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jozie
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 17, 2016 at 11:07 am

I'll miss their huge selection of discounted wall calendars. I fear that these, too, are becoming a thing of the past.

Like this comment
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 17, 2016 at 1:39 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

I only shopped there once, but found their prices were pretty high, both for used books as well as DVDs. That probably didn't help.

1 person likes this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 23, 2016 at 9:49 pm

I stopped going to Book Buyers because:

* There weren't any good technical books in the store. They sold all the good technical books ONLINE out of their warehouse in San Jose.

* I brought in several good technical books that sold new for $60, and they offered to buy them for $5 each. For that price, I would rather donate them to the Mountain View library!

Like this comment
Posted by Magda
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 28, 2016 at 10:54 am

It's sad to see Book Buyers go; I love used bookstores, and Book Buyers is one of the best. Nice staff, good atmosphere and book selections.

I would much rather see East/West Bookshop shop go; their staff has become increasingly rude, hostile and suspicious, treating customers like potential shoplifters.

4 people like this
Posted by Mimsy
a resident of another community
on May 5, 2016 at 10:48 am

It's too sad every time a bookstore closes. Come to Burlingame, where we have ONE bookstore. I refuse to buy a Kindle on principle! Americans are getting dumber and dumber. Keep on buying and reading books, people, or we'll be in "Fahrenheit 451" territory. Thank you!!!!

2 people like this
Posted by Mimsy
a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2016 at 12:31 pm

@Mimsy. While I am sorry that any bookstore closes, Kindles don't make people stupid.

While I am an old white guy and like to hold the newspaper and books I am reading, my kids read but it is all on devices. They are in book clubs, discuss current events, books and literature.

Reading on a device is not the same as not reading.


Like this comment
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on May 5, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Not trying to cause any problems. I posted the above, not Mimsy.


Like this comment
Posted by Eric
a resident of Ohlone School
on Jun 13, 2016 at 11:31 pm

They had to move all the way to Gilroy to find something they can make work for them.

Like this comment
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 14, 2016 at 7:51 am

Sorry to see them go. I bought some really good books there over the years.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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