Get Lost in Literature: Take Time to Explore Eborn Books on Main Street

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By Casey Koldewyn

You don’t have to like used or rare books to like Eborn Books, located at 254 S. Main Street in Salt Lake City, but you do have to have a lot of time on your hands. Packed to the brim with titles from all genres, with nooks and crannies in all sorts of places, just walking through the entire store is a long endeavor, and that’s without sparing a glance for any of the actual books.

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Don’t let the store’s small entrance deceive you. Like a certain phone box, Eborn Books is vastly bigger on the inside. The store prides itself on its hugeness, boasting on its website that the store is composed of over 30,000 square feet of books. The second you walk in, you won’t find that hard to believe.

Filling bookshelves that look like they could never fit another book and could thus topple at any moment, staircases cluttered with unstable piles, obscured tables, peeking out between boxes of who knows what, Eborn’s book collection contains thousands more books than it would be possible to read in a lifetime. There are multiple sci-fi sections, a novel section that fills up more than half the second level and winds around a balcony overlooking the ground floor, women’s studies sections, a yearbook collection (including copies of the Utonian, which was the name of the U’s yearbook at one point, from the late 1940s), areas of old books so valuable or fragile they have to be kept behind glass, audiobook collections — even a table devoted entirely to local Utah authors.

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It is not strange to come upon old board games or even vintage shoes in some sections of the store, mixed in with the incredibly diverse book options. The second floor even has what looks like an imitation office packed with so many books and boxes of books it doesn’t look like anyone could possibly make it useful. The entire building gives off the sense of an unused basement or attic, or that random closet filled to the brim with stuff you haven’t seen in years. The store has an intimate, comfortable feeling that, compounded with the pleasant aroma of freshly brewed coffee from the attached cafe and that “old book smell,” makes it hard to consider leaving. I’m not sure it is ridiculous to believe you could spend days in there without realizing it, so be careful you don’t have a paper due any time soon when you walk through the door.

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While the store requires patience, especially if you are looking for a specific book and even more so if you are looking for it in the floor-to-ceiling-to-either-wall novel section, the store will more than repay you for your time. All sorts of finds lurk around corners and in between bookshelves. You could finally pick up that book you’ve been looking for forever, or you could find yourself meeting a new book friend, likely for a price significantly lower than you would pay elsewhere.

When you next find yourself with extra time, or a load of stress you don’t think you can handle, don’t forget about this gem hidden behind the Gallivan Plaza TRAX station. You will likely find me there, unaware of the day or the time, drinking in the nourishment that only new, used and rare bookstores can offer. Feel free to join me in my book puddle, or go on your own book quest through Eborn’s labyrinthine passages. You won’t be sorry you went.

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