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.
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!
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.
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.