The ghost of Acres of Books

In Long Beach recently, I passed by the sad husk of what was once one of Southern California’s great used bookstores. Acres of Books operated on this site from 1960 to 2008 but was even older, relocating to Long Beach in 1934 after its founding in Cincinnati in 1927.

Bertrand Smith was the founder; he died in 1965 at age 96. (Dwain Kaiser, the late owner of Magic Door Books in Pomona, had known “the old man,” as he affectionately called Smith.)

I shopped in the musty, crowded old store a few times in its last decade or so. My copy of Jack Smith’s “The Big Orange,” with its author signature and personal correspondence with the book’s original owner, was bought here. Ray Bradbury was a famous customer and pleaded with Long Beach to save the store, to no avail. Ironically, City Hall was buying the property with the intent to demolish the bookstore to start an arts district. With the recession and then the end of redevelopment financing, the plans came to naught, but the building and its quaint signage remains.

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  • Dara Allen

    And another one “bites the dust”! So sad for those of us who love to read–and love a bargain!

  • Jimvanhise

    Years before it closed I made the long drive to Acres of Books, and never returned. This was in the 1990s. When I walked in I found a giant store with many empty shelves waiting to be restocked, several hanging lights burned out so that parts of the store were in shadow, and employees just standing around talking. What a let down. When it shut down I really didn’t care.

    • davidallen909

      I don’t blame you. You’ve reminded me how the SF section, set apart in its own musty room with little light, was like a crypt. We both came too late for the store’s glory years.

      Btw, Jim, while we’ve never met, probably 35 years ago I bought a couple of Marvels from you by mail order: Tales of Suspense 49 and FF 49, if I remember right. Still have ’em both.