If you happen to find yourself in Boise, Idaho, as I frequently do, and you need a used book, check out Rainbow Books at 1310 West State Street. My family lives in Boise, and I have driven past Rainbow Books for about 20 years. I am sorry it took so long for me to discover this little book store.
According to its website, “Rainbow Books was moved to its current location at 1310 West State Street in 1993 and continues to add more shelves for more books all the time. Rainbow Books was chosen ‘Best of Treasure Valley’ in 2003 not only for its incredible selection, but also because of the staff’s unbelievable knowledge of its stock.”
On this very hot afternoon, the store had several “browsers” including a young couple canoodling in the air-conditioned book stacks. They were quite preoccupied and paid little attention to me as I crawled along the expansive classic section. The store is a reconverted house, and there are many different rooms to explore; all are well lit, and there is no musty odor one sometimes associates with used books.
I found the shelves very well organized by genre. The children’s literature was appropriately divided into sections: picture books, chapter books and YA literature; and there were many “finds” for my classroom. The military section was small, but there was an entire room shelving unit devoted to Westerns. Should I discover that my students would like to read Westerns, I will certainly be in touch with Rainbow Books! The biography and memoir section also had a wide range of titles. I did ask if they had a copy of October Sky by Homer Hickam, but I was informed that if there was a copy available, it would be shelved under a section called “Men’s Books”; apparently, most people do not look for this title as a memoir, so the staff adopted a genre change!
There were nearly all of the trade books I pick up at used book sales (The Bean Trees, The Road, The Kite Runner), but since I am traveling, all purchases will be mailed to the school, so I was careful to select books that were both “hard to find” and in excellent condition.
What books go into the used book classroom? I found a copy of Feed by M.T. Anderson (9th grade), Nothing but the Truth by Avi (8th grade), and Close to Shore by Michael Capuzzo (summer reading). All these titles are hard to find.
The best discovery was locating four copies of the newest edition of Night by Elie Wiesel which is a required reading text in grade 10. I also picked up three copies of Fat Girl: A True Story by Judith Moore to add to the independent reading selections for the 12th grade memoir class.
These 10 books cost $44.30 with a 10% teacher’s discount, or a little under $5.00 per book. I will have to spend $7.99 in postage (USPO media mail), bringing total expenses to $52.29. What did I save by shopping at Boise’s oldest, friendliest, and most generous used bookstore? Well, the retail price for these texts $108.60; so, including the postage, my total savings $56.31.
There are buying, trading, and selling policies listed on the Rainbow Books website; a sign at the register also indicated they sell through Amazon as well. However, shopping online means you miss a great opportunity to shop in this pleasant used book store….or buy doughnuts next door….or ice cream up the street!