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Step into Eureka Books – a literary goldmine in Northern California


Eureka Books in Northern California

The word ‘Eureka’ is derived from the Greek word for ‘I have found it’ and I almost shouted those very words after reaching Eureka Books, a wonderful bookshop nestled in a corner of Northern California.

We’d driven south for five hours, give or take an hour or two, from the glorious sand dunes of Southern Oregon that inspired Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel, Dune, so Eureka Books was a most welcome sight at the time.

Eureka Books stands proudly in the historic district of a rough-around-the-edges town on the shores of Humboldt Bay. It could be argued that it’s an odd place for a bookshop but there’s actually another used bookstore a little further down the block. Unless you are doing a road trip down the Pacific Coast on Highway 101 (and you should) then you will probably never pass through Eureka, which is a bit of shame because this bookshop is a real treasure. (I must add there is a most unusual building in the town called the Carson Mansion, which is also worth seeing – see below.)

Eureka Books offers a wide range of books

Open seven days a week, Eureka Books is located in a red and white Victorian storefront built in 1879. The building has had several incarnations including as a saloon. Outside, there is a Zoltar fortune telling machine, which fans of Tom Hanks will remember from the 1988 movie Big. There is a tall airy interior which opens into a second floor as you venture further in – you feel it’s a building full of stories and that those tales go way beyond books.

Scott Brown is co-owner of Eureka Books and his previous position as editor of Fine Books & Collections Magazine involved plenty of storytelling. Scott’s wife Amy Stewart is also a co-owner and she’s in the storytelling business too as an author – her green-fingered books include Wicked Plants, Wicked Bugs, Flower Confidential and The Drunken Botanist. Both Scott and Amy knew this bookshop well before the opportunity arose to acquire the business.

The store, which is a member of the ABA (American Booksellers Association) and ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America) offers new, used and rare books that appeal to a wide spectrum of buyers. Scott has been careful to ensure the store is not cluttered.

You will notice signed copies of Amy’s books alongside the latest releases upon entering the store. Rare and antiquarian books are displayed in glass cabinets down the walls. Used and out-of-print books become more plentiful as you work your way through the shelves.

It is very much a community bookshop with signings by local authors and involvement in the local arts scene. That community feel extends to the internet where Eureka offers a vibrant blog and also online versions of its rare book catalogs.

You will find around 5,000 of their books listed on AbeBooks.com – again carefully curated. Their inventory stretches from many interesting books about Humboldt County to the California Gold Rush and books about books, and much more.

If you are ever in these neck of the woods, you know what to do.

The view from the second floor of Eureka Books

Upstairs at Eureka Books

From paperbacks to coffee-table books…

Plenty of books related to Hollywood

There are also rare and out-of-print books galore

And the Carson Mansion, one of Eureka’s other attractions

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