Eugene boasts a local store for almost every good you could want — and books are not exception. We’ve profiled four locally-run bookstores in the area to satisfy your reading needs.
J. Michaels Books
If you’re searching for a bookstore with a real hometown presence, check out J. Michaels Books on 160 E Broadway. It has been in Eugene for 40 years. It is currently holding a sale through June 6 to celebrate this milestone.
“I’ve had some of the same customers since the beginning,” said owner Jeremy Nissel, who has now opened three different locations in downtown Eugene.
Nissel uses “service and selection” as his main ideal when running the bookstore.
“I refine my selection so that my store looks different than others,” he said.
At J. Michaels, you might just find that rare book that has been sitting patiently on your wish list. The store carries a wide variety of genres, with copies that range from vintage to brand new, while the staff is constantly on the search for more great books.
“I look for books of lasting quality,” said Nissel, who is hands on when buying merchandise for his store.
J. Michaels Books is a true Eugene classic, that is here to stay.
Smith Family Bookstore
Smith Family Bookstore is known for a lot more than providing a reasonable price range on used books for your course load. Located both on campus, 768 13th Ave, and in downtown Eugene, 525 Willamette St., Smith Family has been sharing the love and education of reading for 35 years.
Smith Family buys and sells used books that are reasonably priced, and is known to be one of Eugene’s “oldest independent bookstore.”
“Our bookstores are big, well organized, and cover all subjects. We buy thousands of used books every week, and our inventory constantly grows and changes. We depend on our knowledgeable staff to help customers find books and to keep our stores in good shape. We are a bit messy, but most of our customers appreciate the huge selection of books to browse and the diverse sections to explore,” states a welcoming ‘About’ tab on Smith Family’s website.
With a helpful staff and prices that are easy on anyone’s budget, Smith Family plans to open a third store in Springfield, Oregon.
As unique as Eugene itself, it’s “a bookstore for everyone, and our inventory reflects this identity. Our bookstores offer vast choices, good prices, and a sense of the open-minded community we live in.”
This bookstore may sell used and new books, but it has far more to offer than its smart selection of left-field novels you didn’t know existed. It is home to the Eugene Poetry Slam, book release parties, jam sessions and spoken word performances.
Located on Willamette, they boast a wonderful environment to sit down and browse through books or records. The store, opened by Scott Landfield in 1985, is currently celebrating its 20th year. It is no surprise that records and books go hand in hand, and Tsunami takes full advantage of this. The store’s overwhelming record collection holds treasures from The Doors to Bossanova.
In the past, Tsunami Books has hosted a classical guitar session with Craig Einhorn, a concert with Brian Cutean and a comedy showcase. If the performance area wasn’t in the bookstore, it would be right out of your living room. The cozy seating and wooden shelves are sure to inspire creativity or a long nap. On June 13, the store will host the Eugene Poetry Slam’s last show of the year, called the Sex Slam. Tsunami hosts it every year, and it is open to all participants.
For event updates and book releases look at the Tsunami Books’ Facebook page or visit the store on 25th Avenue and Willamette Street. The store is currently in the process of crowd fundraising to cover its new rent cost.
Black Sun Books
Teeming with new, used and out-of-print books, Black Sun Books is a quaint 900-square-foot store located at 2467 Hilyard St. It has been open since 1992 and features an impressive selection of hardcover and paperback books, carefully packed into every available nook, cranny and crack available. Classical music plays over the speakers, creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere fit for hours of browsing.
The diagonal shelving in the middle provides clear walkways, making the space inside the small store feel much more expansive than it actually is, while remaining easily navigable. The staff is polite and willing to assist when needed, but also allows customers to peruse the aisles in peace if desired.
Black Sun features a strong literature collection, as well as academic texts, a children’s section and just about every other section vital to bookstores. While the inventory is large, the size of the store prevents Black Sun from stocking every hot title under the sun. If a specific title isn’t available in store, simply ask for the store to order it and it will arrive in a matter of days.
For an added bonus, the mystery section is hidden in a back alcove, and is a bit difficult to find.