A Guide to Orange County Bookstores
Arvida Book Company can be found at the heart of Old Town Tustin, nestled within a vintage brick building along Main Street, and showcasing what may be the most aesthetically gorgeous (thus instagrammable) design there is to be found among Orange County bookstores. Mike and Sam Robertson are together the fearless husband and wife duo that opened this literary oasis as recently as December 2020! Wasting no time, with help from family, friends, and the surrounding community, they’ve procured a space that thoughtfully encourages creativity, the exchange of ideas, and a collective love for knowledge and reading.
Be sure to check out Arvida’s engaging book clubs, writers workshops, special author events, how-to workshops, and clinics promoting sustainability. Here is a link to the shop’s Instagram account.
Where the pages meet the sea, down a small covered path, and beside the big tree, is none other than Lido Village Books. The heart-warming store is independently owned and has been showcasing new and noteworthy titles for the Newport Beach community for decades now. Perhaps best of all, their amazing staff provides visitor’s peaceful space to peruse about row upon row of exceptionally curated bookshelves whilst remaining near in case questions or inquiries may arise.
This community book shop has been doing business in San Clemente for over 36 years, formerly, as Village Book Exchange, and prior to that, on Del Mar Street, as The Paperback Exchange. They are now over on Avenida Serra in a very spacious and bright building, mere sandy steps from the sundrenched, palm tree-speckled coast. Wandering the aisles, you’re sure to find a familiar favorite or discover something refreshingly adventurous as Beach Town Books offers mostly used titles, a number of frequently requested new books, and the required reading for local schools.
Half Off Books in bustling downtown Fullerton, not far from the university and community college, is a must-visit destination among Orange County bookstores. Primarily featuring used titles, you’re sure to discover countless amazing reads both categorically and beautifully organized throughout the shop’s vintage wooden shelves. Fire sales are hosted four times a year, during this highly anticipated event, about 90% of hardbacks, paperbacks, and children’s books can be purchased for $3, $2, and $1 respectively.
Open-mic poetry readings are typically hosted every other week, however, due to the pandemic, this may be subject to change.
A hallmark of the beautiful city of Orange, Bookman opened in 1990 and quickly became one of Southern California’s most beloved independent bookstores. They are in possession of some 300,000 titles and add hundreds more by the week, which keeps their field for book treasure hunting alive and well. The proof is simply in the pudding, in an age where brick and mortar bookstores have become a rare breed, there’s a reason readers continue to flock from all over to Bookman.
Book Carnival has been a gathering point for Orange County’s bookish community since 1981, and nearly 30 years after opening, it experienced a change in ownership when one longtime customer jumped at the chance to buy the literary stronghold. She was on the heels of a lengthy career in accounting and management as she purchased Book Carnival, and stirred along by passion, Anne’s been fulfilling her dream of running a neighborhood bookstore for a decade now.
In addition to hosting frequent author signing events and an enthusiastic monthly book club, the shop specializes in mysteries and suspense, as well as signed and first editions.
There’s a cute little cottage just a sea shell’s throw from the shimmering water’s off Southern California’s sandy shoreline, it’s fixed along the world-famous Pacific Coast Highway, and here, books are plenty, the staff is friendly, and boundless adventure awaits – this is, Laguna Beach Books. A locally beloved gem of a space, they’ve organized a superb selection of titles for both adults and children, along with exciting author events occasionally graced by passionate readings.
Situated on the corner of Lincoln and Tustin, in the city of Orange, is One Dollar Bookshop – yes, they actually do sell reads for as little as a dollar apiece. Though, keeping up with the times, financially speaking, has required this beloved literary getaway to slightly increase the pricing for many books to a still amazing $2-$4. Those kinds of savings mixed with 80,000 titles encompassing every genre imaginable is a recipe for one massive book shopping spree if you ask me.
Booktown USA is a quaint suburban store near Disneyland that has been selling books at bargain prices since first opening in 2004. Mostly categorized by different genres, you can expect to find gently used, older prints of children’s books, contemporary & classic literature, cookbooks, Sci-Fi fantasy, self-help, religion, metaphysics, horror, performing arts, history, and biographies.
LibroMobile is a literary project in collaboration with Red Salmon Arts initiated by local author Sarah Rafael García and established in Santa Ana, California – it integrates literature, visual exhibits, and year-round creative workshops and live readings.
The LibroMobile is not only mobile but also builds community and promotes literacy. It resides on Calle Cuatro (off 4th & Spurgeon, back alley area) and travels throughout Santa Ana visiting a variety of communities, including Grand Central Art Center, Alta Baja Market and special events through Southern California.
The design of the LibroMobile is nostalgic of the iconic paletero carts or fruit vendors that are part of downtown Santa Ana.
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With 3 locations, one in the Brea Mall, another at the Shops at Mission Viejo, and the final among The Outlets of Lake Elsinore, Bargain Book World offers a huge selection of gently used books priced mostly from $1-$4. They get new arrivals daily and it’s always a great treasure hunt!
BookOff originally started out selling gently used Japanese comics, manga, toys, games, and books, and since expanding throughout the United States, now offers a wider variety of collectible items and promising reads. From home improvement and cooking to business and self-help, visitors of all walks can expect to stumble across an exciting find worth paying an affordable price for. If you’re interested in decluttering that fairly crowded shelf at home and hoping to earn a quick buck in the process, they do buy people’s gently used books, among other memorabilia!
If you enjoyed this guide to the best Orange County bookstores, be sure to check out our list of the Top 10 Coffee Shops in Orange County!