The Book Place - The Little Book Store that Can in Marin County

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Previews International (#1 Marin_Sonoma_San Francisco_North_Bay) DRE# 01415544

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Just when you think you know everything about Novato, that’s when you find out you missed something important.  The Book Place is a perfect example of such a gem in Novato!   

For people who think there is no book store in Novato, the Book Place is a hidden treasure yet to be discovered by many even though it has been in Novato for the past 16 years, with the last 9 on Grant Avenue near Seventh Street.        

With books in every category — fiction, nonfiction, history, science, autobiography, military, cookbooks, children's books, collector's items, as well as CDs, videos, and audiobooks, this used book store is a popular destination for book lovers and bargain hunters in the know throughout Marin County.   

On a bright Monday morning right after the busy Thanksgiving weekend, the Book Place was quiet with a few customers browsing and six volunteers working.  The sun streaming through the front picture windows warmed up a few cozy reading chairs.  The quiet atmosphere and friendly volunteer staff is conducive to extensive browsing and reading before bringing a few books home.  For patrons with young kids, there is a kids’ corner with children’s books, kid-sized tables, chairs, big chalkboard and toys to keep the young ones interested and occupied.    

To help with holiday shopping, the Book Place has assembled many beautifully wrapped gift baskets, filled with books and items like stuffed animals for easy gifting.  With well thought out, popular themes such as Dr. Seuss, the Velveteen Rabbit, Thomas the Tank Engine, Cooking, Gardening, and reasonably priced between $9-20, these gift items can be a life saver when shopping for loved ones.  Not finding what you want?  The Book Place continues to receive beautiful art, cooking and bestsellers in mint condition.  Check back often to stretch your budget.

Staffed by more than 100 Friends of the Marin County Free Library volunteers , the Book Place receives between 2,500 and 3,000 books a week donated during the peak season, and takes in more than $10,000 monthly.

The Friends allocate between $55,000 and $70,000 annually to support Marin County Free Library materials and programs,  such as the Children’s Summer Reading Program, the Toddler Story Times, the children’s programs/events, and teen reading programs.  In addition, the Board reviews a Wish List compiled by library administration every year for additional funding opportunities, such as travel DVDs, Spanish-language materials, and other popular materials.

The Friends of the Marin County Free Library (MCFL) have nearly 45 years of service to the community, contributing well over $1 million to Marin County Free Library System.   The friends invite you to come and explore the Book Place.  Support the Marin County Free Library by donating to the Book Place or by purchasing some of the bargain but high quality books or by becoming a volunteer at the Book Place. 


Prices on books are set by type: hardcovers $3 (except hardcover mystery which are $1), trade-size paper (larger than “pocketbooks”) $2, small mass-market size 75 cents—newer books and rare/unusual are priced accordingly.  A Clearance Room has books at 25 cents.  The pricing is the lowest in the county. 

Kids’ Club:

Kids’ club participants accumulate stamps for each purchase on a club card with the 13th book free.  Kid’s books range from 25 cents to $1 in most cases, with special or new books priced slightly higher.

Discounts and Sales:

  • Teachers receive a 20 percent discount on their purchases for their classrooms.
  • Every Sunday seniors receive 20 percent off their purchase, except those items already on sale.
  • The first Sunday of every month is Bargain Sunday, and selected categories are marked down for the day.  The categories are typically announced one week prior to Bargain Sunday.
  • Storewide clearance sales are held 3-4 times per year to make room for the massive amount of book donations received.


Membership information is at all county library locations, and at the store.  Members receive the newsletter and advance notice to any of the sales. 

Donation Guideline:

Location:  1608 Grant Avenue, Novato

Store hours:  Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs/Sat 10-4; Friday 10-7, Sunday, noon-4.  There is parking in back 

Phone:: 415-209-0212.

Interview: interview with Barbara Madrid by Victoria Gonzalez, Library Community Builder


Comments (6)

Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

Locally owned book stores are disappearing fast.  One of our local UBER authors, John Grisham, always does his FIRST book signing at our local Olde Dominion Book Store on our historic downtown mall.

Dec 18, 2011 10:29 PM
Sylvia Barry
Coldwell Banker Previews International (#1 Marin_Sonoma_San Francisco_North_Bay) - San Rafael, CA
Marin and Sonoma Real Estate Leading Expert

Thank you, Wallace.  Yes, I agree, it's a very sad trend.  Not only locally owned book stores, but nationwide chain book store are also disappearing.  Barnes and Noble recently closed it's book store in San Rafael, which was centrally located in Marin County.  

Great to have the authors to come and sign/read their books.  Nice connection for the book store, author and readers.

Dec 18, 2011 10:35 PM
Rob Spinosa
US Bank - Larkspur, CA
Mortgage Loan Originator, Marin County

Sylvia --- great to meet you at the broker's open in Santa Venetia.  As for local bookstores, it is indeed a sad commentary in many cases.  I just took a loan application for an owner of one and unfortunately the income isn't there.  You really feel for these folks who aim to serve the community, yet don't get the reciprocation.  Ah well, at least we have Pini Ace Hardware.  I would shop there over Home Depot any day.  They are just so helpful and knowledgeable.

See you 'round!

Jan 13, 2012 01:37 AM
Sylvia Barry
Coldwell Banker Previews International (#1 Marin_Sonoma_San Francisco_North_Bay) - San Rafael, CA
Marin and Sonoma Real Estate Leading Expert

Rob - it was very nice meeting you also.  There is a movement around the country, and especially Marin to SHOP LOCAL.   We need to protect our own merchants to make sure our town thrive.

See you soon!


Jan 13, 2012 02:22 AM
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA


I bet the book place was thrilled to be mentioned in your blog. These book stores are such treasures, and only the best and strongest will survive. One such place is Powell's in Portland. That is probably one of the most amazing book stores I've ever visited. I could get lost there for days and be blissful.

Jan 30, 2012 06:27 AM
Sylvia Barry
Coldwell Banker Previews International (#1 Marin_Sonoma_San Francisco_North_Bay) - San Rafael, CA
Marin and Sonoma Real Estate Leading Expert

Hi Pacita - Thanks for stopping by.  Yes, the Book Place was happy that they are mentioned.  Unfortunatley, for such a treasure, they need a lot of help to get the words out just because everything is going digital.  We are hoping that we will continue to support our local book stores and libraries!


Jan 30, 2012 08:42 AM