Bookstore “Review”: BookEnds

If you haven’t read my review for Da Shop, check that out! It has some background information in regards to my experience with indie bookstores.

Before I start off this review, I have to first ask myself: how in the world have I lived in Hawaii for 25+ years without any memory of going to Kailua????

Backstory: I was born and raised on the island of Oahu (though I lived on Kauai for two years in elementary school). I am nearly 26 years old and somehow today went my partner drove us to Kailua, I was SHOCKED at how beautiful that place is because for the life of me I cannot remember ever going there. What the heck!?

Sorry, now to the actual review.

The Positives

When I walked into BookEnds I was immediately overjoyed to see that I finally found the type of bookstore where books are basically spilling off of shelves. This is the aesthetic I have been searching for in a bookstore my entire life!

Books were piled on top of bookshelves, on the ground, in the stools, everywhere. It is probably impossible to actually locate every book in the store without spending hours upon hours searching every nook and cranny.

This store is a little far from where I live–especially considering the Pali is closed for reconstruction–but as soon as I stepped in, I knew that I wanted to come back.

My partner actually brought some used books to sell and they gave him a significantly better price than the other used book store on Oahu. We have two boxes of our books to get rid so we’ve been trying to figure out what to do with them. He brought 4 books of various conditions and genres as a test run and it looks like this place is the winner!

The Negatives

Unfortunately, this place did have its downfalls for me. Since books were stacked on the stools they have in the isles, there isn’t much room to sit down. Since the overall goal of a business is to sell things this wasn’t a huge downer for me, but rather a mental note for when I return.

The biggest issue I had with BookEnds was that I walked in thinking that it was a place to get books for a bargain. While they do have a good amount of used books, there’s actually a large amount of brand new books occupying the shelves.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal except for the fact that the used books and new books seem to be mixed together in no distinguishable way. Basically the only way to know if a book is used or new is to inspect it. Since the books are in various places all over the store, it becomes very tiring trying to find the books that you don’t have to pay full value for.

Additionally, theres no way of really knowing what versions of a book they have. The bookshelves will hold one copy of the book but they may have a different version sitting on top of the bookshelf hidden, or maybe in one of the stacks on the floor, or maybe even in the back storage room. You can ask a worker if they have what you’re looking for but from conversations I overheard, they can only make their best guess.

Also, as a personal preference, I buy hardcover books and it seems this store favors paperbacks. If I found something interesting on the shelf in paperback, I had no real way of knowing if there was a hardcover copy hidden somewhere in the store.

In particular, my partner and I were looking to find a hardcover version of Cinder today. There was a paperback version in a YA bookshelf and so we started looking in the book piles but didn’t find the hardcover version.

I basically gave up looking and only started again because I was strolling through the children’s section and saw that they had a stash of YA novels hidden in the top shelf of one of the bookcases. One of them was a hardcover version of Cress which is in the same series as Cinder so I decided to ask a worker if they knew whether they had a hardcover of Cinder. That’s when they informed me that they usually return hardcovers once they get the paperback version *insert sad face emoji*. They offered to order it for me but at that point it would have meant me paying full price for a novel that I can order myself online for cheaper.

Summary

BookEnds is truly a store that you can find yourself getting “lost” in. They have a lot of books and the environment is really charming. If you decide to visit, I suggest setting aside a good amount of time to search through the stacks because it will not be an easy task if you’re looking for something specific.

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Bookstore “Review”: Da Shop

Growing up, I got all of my books from Borders–a store that no longer exists. After Borders went out of business, I was left with what I thought was my only other choice: Barnes & Noble.

I admit I’ve always been envious of people who post pictures of local bookstores that are either packed to the ceiling with books, beautifully minimalistic, or somewhere in between. I simply believed that there were no such stores here on Oahu but I’m happy to announce that I was wrong!

My partner went on a search for such bookstores months ago and we finally got around to visiting Da Shop: Books + Curiosities today. It’s actually only around a 5 minute drive from where I live and I had no idea it existed.

According to indiebound.org, there are only 3 indie bookstores on Oahu: Da Shop, Bookends, and Bookoff. I’ve been to Bookoff several times starting in high school but it’s a used bookstore and though I absolutely love buying cheap books from there, I never considered it to be in the same category as the bookstores I loved to look at online.

The first thing that caught my eye about this store is that ITS SUPER CUTE. As we walked up to the entrance I actually said this out loud to my partner. I was so shocked at how nice the outside was that I forgot to take a picture!

When you walk in, you’ll be amazed by how aesthetically pleasing everything is. There are a mix of bookshelf types and decor but they go together extremely well.

View from the entrance.

Each table/shelf is organized by genre. Around half of store is dedicated to Hawaii books–no surprise. What I was surprised by, however, was how this store seemed dedicated to celebrating the voices of marginalized authors and characters, Hawaiian or otherwise. It was absolutely wonderful.

There were Hawaiian books, Asian books, African American books, Indigenous books, and more! There was even a section dedicated to a book club called The Greener Reader, a sustainability book club.

The Greener Reader Shelf.

If you want to test out any of the books they have available, there are ample areas for reading in the store. In fact, one of the customers who came in after us mentioned that they sometimes even provide espresso for their customers.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you to check this place out, there are even cards next to some of the books that tell you why people (I assume the workers) love that book.

I didn’t buy anything this time around and I have a sneaking suspicious that it’s because I’ve become so accustomed to mainstream books that these books didn’t quite catch my attention just yet. Nevertheless, I definitely look forward to visiting this store again and expanding my reading material. As a woman of color, I am particularly interested in “seeing myself” more in the stories that I read.