Dec. 14 2011 12:00 AM

Lansing offers a variety of outlets for book bargains


There’s an old saying that when you stop believing in Santa Claus you get books.

Why didn’t someone tell me sooner?

The good news: The Lansing area never had a Borders, so we don’t have to drive across the state to find a bookstore. Two Schuler Books and Music locations easily take up the slack in the new book department and, with little fanfare, they have built up an excellent inventory of used books.

Schuler locations restock the used books daily, with a steady parade of sellers offloading their recent reads. Bargain-hunters are likely to find great deals like Stephen King’s “11/22/63,” which was on the used shelf last week at less than half  the price of a new copy. 

The downtown East Lansing Barnes & Noble store closes its doors after the holiday. But until then it’s still the place for mainstream fiction, and it has an excellent children’s section in the basement.

Also in East Lansing, Ray Walsh holds court at two more traditional used bookstores, Curious Book Shop and Archives Book Shop. It’s easy to lose track of time wandering the aisles. Although the stores attract the serious collector (I had my eye on a Jack Kerouac first edition last year — but while I was eyeing it, it slipped out the door), they are also stocked with reasonably priced books in all genres. The shelves of Archives and Curious are stuffed with non-fiction offerings that make buying a gift for that architect or circus buff in the family easy.

During this past year, World Mission Thrift in Lansing has turned a 1,500 square-foot corner of the store into a used bookstore with thousands of volumes in all genres. Books are displayed in a similar fashion to a traditional bookstore and, as you might expect in a thrift store, there are incredible bargains, with the majority of books priced at a dollar or less.

Store manager Cindy Pattison and her son, Joseph, have turned the area into a delightful find for book lovers, book collectors, resellers and readers. On a recent stop I found “Tomato Red” by noir writer Daniel Woodrell, whose “Winter’s Bone” was made into an award-winning movie.

But it’s more common to find a great selection of James Patterson or Michael Connelly at World Mission Thrift. Part of the fun of a used-book store is its hit-or-miss feeling. What you see depends on what comes in the door, and Joseph Pattison says he adds about 300 volumes to the inventory every day. Cindy Pattison said the Lansing store sells as many books as the other four World Mission Thrift stores in Michigan combined.

In addition to traditional genres, World Mission has a wall of Christian titles — both fiction and non-fiction — which are generally tough to find in used-book stores. The store-within-a-store also has an extensive stock of used children’s books, most of them priced between 25 and 50 cents.

Joseph Pattison said he’s focused on creating an atmosphere in which customers “will enjoy looking for books rather than it being a chore.”

The Museum Gift Shop in the Michigan Historical Museum is another unlikely source of books, especially volumes focusing on Michigan history and themes. Along with books on Native Americans, Michigan natural history, Detroit, automobiles, sports and mining, the gift shop carries back issues of Michigan History magazine and an extensive array of children’s books by Michigan authors, many featuring Michigan themes.

Everything Michigan is on display, including an extensive offering of Michigan Notable Books and lesser known books, such as “The Assassination of a Michigan King,” “Birchbark Canoes in the Fur Trade” and “Negroes in Michigan History.” 

Archives Book Shop

519 W. Grand River Ave., East Lansing

10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday

(517) 332-8444

Barnes & Noble

333 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing

10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday (517) 324-3926

5132 W. Saginaw Hwy. 245, Lansing

9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday

(517) 327-0437

Curious Book Shop

307 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing

10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday

(517) 332-0112

Michigan Historical Museum Gift Shop

702 W. Kalamazoo St., Lansing

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday

(517) 373-3559

Schuler Books & Music

1982 Grand River Ave., Okemos

9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday

(517) 349-8840 

2820 Towne Center Blvd., Lansing

9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday

(517) 316-7495 

World Mission Thrift

5400 S. Cedar St., Lansing

9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday

(517) 393-8507