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BARGAINS / GERI COOK

Books on the Move : Reseda 'traveling store' is bare-bones, but well-organized. Its thousands of volumes include first editions, autographed copies.

September 03, 1993|GERI COOK

As any sharp shopper knows, bargains that are here today may be gone tomorrow. This particularly applies to The Book Market's "traveling stores." They arrive, stay for awhile and then move on.

Book lovers wish they would stay forever.

There's no name on the front of the store in Loehmann's Plaza in Reseda. It just says, "Book Sale." But officially it is known as The Book Market, and the parent company is National Book Warehouse of Knoxville, Tenn.

Management says this store might stay open through the holidays, but is more likely to close Sept. 12. In other words, don't waste time in taking advantage of the deals.

To say this is a bare-bones operation is stating it mildly. There are thousands of books on wooden planks set on sawhorses, but it's well-organized and there are gems to be found. Sometimes an autographed copy is uncovered, and once in a while, a first edition is claimed by an avid browser. Recently, an autographed copy of Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising" surfaced, as did an autographed first edition of "An Act of Terror" by Andre Brink.

Remainders and overprints make up much of the inventory, augmented by books from liquidations, auctions, estate sales, retailers overstocks and unclaimed freight.

Here is the best part: No book in this vast store sells for more than $4, including the hardcovers in the front of the store. Art Buchwald's "I Think I Don't Remember" and Sally Beauman's "Dark Angel" were two of the hardcovers for $4.

An entire section of the store is given to "no-jackets"--books that lost their dust jackets along the way. This is where many of the autographed copies are found. These are $2 and cover all categories.

Two long walls of tables are filled with children's books. On the day of my visit, "I'm a Little Teapot," a hardcover from Unicorn Publishing, was priced at $3.

Also in stock was a set of large hardcover educational books from Gallery Press: "My First Encyclopedia," "My First Atlas" and "My First Dictionary," all priced at $4 from a retail of $9.95.

There is a section for "quality paper"--the more esoteric paperbacks--ranging from $2 to $4.

Mass-market paperbacks are in another area, priced at $2 or less.

An impressive collection of textbooks is available at these same low prices; some are hardcovers, but most are quality paperbacks.

Shopping The Book Market is somewhat of a gamble, but when you uncover a title that fits your needs, it's worthwhile. "Nursery Care of Children," published by Lippincott, is one example. It retailed for $65, so at $4, it's a steal. "Performing Arts Major's College Guide," published in 1992, retails for $20, but was marked down to $2. Another timely buy for $2 might be "The Complete Desktop Publisher," which sells at many stores for $21.

I was particularly taken with the selection of travel books by Fodor, Frommer, Michelin and others. Management said travel agents had been swarming around this selection and snapping them up as fast as they arrived--and new shipments come in every week.

Should this particular Book Market location "travel" while you're not looking, others do open.

The company could not provide a list of future sites, but if their other stores are like this one, you'll find hours of browsing pleasure, and the bounty is bound to be worthwhile.

Where and When Location: The Book Market, Loehmann's Plaza, 19337 Victory Blvd., Reseda. Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Cards: MasterCard and Visa. Call: (818) 996-1576.

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