Books Inc moving to new Castro St. home

Store relocating to former BookBuyers space, next door

Mountain View's landmark downtown bookstore, Books Inc., is planning to leave its Castro Street location of 15 years But it won't be going far.

Books Inc.'s new home will be roughly 50 feet down the street at a vacant space that used to house the second-hand bookstore BookBuyers.

Why is an established bookstore stepping into another's old home? Books Inc. Manager Glen Robbe said the move comes mainly due to financial reasons. They signed a 10-year lease to take over the 317 Castro Street location at a price much less than if they stayed put, he said. Plus, the move should be a piece of cake since it's just one door down, he said.

"This should be a really simple move We should be able to just put things in carts and roll them down the sidewalk," he said. "We're really excited about this. I think it's going to be a better experience for the customer."

There's definitely some pros and cons with the new location, Robbe said. The owner of the former Bookbuyers site is upgrading the location with new lighting and converting the large floor into three separate store spaces. Losing the lucrative corner location will be unfortunate, Robbe said, but the new space should provide more room for a children's area.

Leslie Mills, the owner of the 317 Castro Street location, plans to partition the former BookBuyers store into three separate commercial spaces. Books Inc. will be taking over about 4,000 square feet of space, roughly the same size at their current location. Meanwhile, the international bakery chain Paris Baguette has also recently announced plans to move in next door, so long as they can get city permits. That still remains tentative since city officials have been reluctant to sanction more downtown restaurant space, explained landlord Leslie Mills.

The change for Books Inc. comes as bad news for its upstairs neighbor, the coffee shop Caffe Romanza. When the bookshop's lease expires in May, Romanza owner Jay Kim said he would also need to relocate. But so far he hasn't been able to find a new space, and he said his prospects aren't good for finding something affordable downtown. He is mulling possibly relocating further south, perhaps even as far as San Jose.

Even as the retail industry for books has dwindled in recent years, the Bay Area chain Books Inc. has shown remarkable resilience and even some growth. The chain currently has nine neighborhood stores and two smaller shops at the SFO airport. Next year, the bookseller company plans to open its 10th store at the Pruneyard Shopping Center in Campbell.

Smaller bookstores have benefited in recent years from the decline of large "superstore" booksellers like Borders, said Hut Landon of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association in an earlier interview with the Voice.


46 people like this
Posted by Love Caffe Romanza
a resident of North Bayshore
on Mar 1, 2017 at 11:57 am

Book Buyers is a huge space. Make space for Caffe Romanza and Jay! Our family has been going to Caffe Romanza for years. We love eating and working there. The food and drinks are delicious and much better priced than all of the chains going in everywhere else. I would take Caffe Romanza over Paris Baguette any day. The city should avoid giving a permit to a big chain and try to preserve what we already love in Mountain View.

Save Caffe Romanza! Support small business, Mountain View!

32 people like this
Posted by CourtneyB
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 1, 2017 at 2:41 pm

I agree! Caffe Romanza is my go-to lunch place when I want tasty food and an opportunity to talk without crowds and noise. It's also a great place to write and eat and meet fellow book lovers in the same location. I strongly recommend that Books Inc consider taking them along. Also agree re: Paris Baguette. Nice, but not even close to the quality of Caffe Romanza. I would not transfer my lunch location there, so would probably spend less time in Mountain View at lunchtime. So many people I know buy books after having lunch, I can imagine the lack of a cafe might cut into Books Inc bottom line. Save my Caffe!

14 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 1, 2017 at 3:04 pm

I was walking by Books, Inc. the other day and saw the sign that they were leaving. I am really glad that they are just moving next door--they are a great asset for downtown. Maybe they should put up a sign saying they are moving next door so passers-by like me don't get worried...

4 people like this
Posted by Ken M
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 1, 2017 at 3:18 pm

I'm not surprised at all. Book buyers didn't stand a chance with a store selling books in better condition right next door. Now Books Inc gets the less expensive space. Good move!

17 people like this
Posted by Susan B
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2017 at 5:20 pm

I'm so glad Books Inc. will still remain in the downtown area. My family and I have enjoyed this book store for many years, and I'm glad they are wanting to expand the children's section. Caffe Romanza has also been a big hit for us since we often stop by for yummy treats either before or after shopping. It's our hope that Caffe Romanza and Books Inc. will move together in the new space since they have been a successful team for many years.

7 people like this
Posted by Holly
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Thrilled we will keep Books Inc in downtown.I will be a regular buyer !

Like this comment
Posted by Ricky
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Mar 1, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Not being able to take unbought books into the cafe really killed any advantages of colocation for me. Barnes and Noble does it albeit not very comfortably. Waterstones in the UK seems difficult to beat, except it's a bit far.

10 people like this
Posted by a book buyer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2017 at 9:06 pm

Ah, too bad they won't be taking over the whole space. Currently Books Inc. is kind of cramped and has a limited selection. It would have been nice for them to expand.

7 people like this
Posted by patrick
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Just how many upscale bakeries does one street need? For retail to succeed we need something interesting to visit. Paris Baguette I dont know you but I really dont want you. We already have a really authentic chinese bakery, and a pricey bakery for the 1% I forget the name its so great! I looked at it once, laughed at the prices and moved on.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT PLEASE!!!!!!! Personally I loved the used bookstore and see no reason to buy books at full retail plus tax - are you guys crazy?

9 people like this
Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 2, 2017 at 2:21 am

May we hope that Books, Inc does well at their new address. I used to frequent the Printers, Inc bookstore at that location and for years they had someone making interesting choices for books in various subjects. One could buy a cool book about some subject one wouldn't have been looking for. Books, Inc is doing that now.

Do parents introduce kids to books now by showing them the high resolution, random access pages with no batteries to buy or charge? You can drop a book too. You can even read a book outdoors and in sunlight! Impressive technology. Adobe may as well just slink away......

The present Books, Inc on the corner was originally a bank, so they have the high ceiling, the vault for the kids room, the balcony for the coffee shop, and the windows overlooking the main floor. For Printers Inc, the now furniture store in the back was a sandwich/coffee shop accessible from the bookstore. About all the remote owner can do with it now is to reflect on having been bested by competition and remodeling it to install a normal second story to rent as office space.

The first floor could be a store selling tee shirts from China printed to look like preppie stuff for customers who can't afford the real thing because their rent is so high. Abercrombie's somehow sells clothes with big posters of people with no clothes on. Remember the tale of The Emperor's New Clothes? Maybe his tailor's descendants could set up shop on Castro Street. Their product would be fashionable and less expensive with a low cost of goods, just the high rent. I know these are great, ground breaking ideas and I'm just giving them away...

@Racist Much - Reading the post prior to yours just doesn't suggest racist anything. The name of the company from their Web site is PARIS BAGUETTE AMERICA INC., which suggests a possible non-US company but you have to click on franchising to find that its origin was in South Korea in 1945. It must have been an adventure to start anything there in those days. People may object to yet another chain able to capitalize a business, cross-subsidize it from their existing stores to start up, and enjoy some economies of scale or arbitrage. Most folksy looking stores these days, especially in malls, are chains or franchises at best.

There are neighborhoods in San Francisco that campaign relentlessly against chain stores on their local commercial streets. So those streets are thriving with actual local businesses. Once going they can often compete, though small business is hard. Building owners, of course, get lower returns. Sunnyvale's Murphy Street area seems local but I don't know anything about it. Perhaps compromise is possible. Around here, and especially in Palo Alto, neighborhoods campaign relentlessly, but righteously, to maximize the price of their houses, their only savings.

5 people like this
Posted by PB
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 2, 2017 at 6:50 am

Paris Baguette is anything but "upscale". It'll probably be the most affordable bakery on Castro. But I'm sure people will complain about that as well

2 people like this
Posted by Stoked for books!
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 2, 2017 at 11:53 am

Yay! So glad that Books Inc. found a great solution to stay right downtown, happy for them! Let me echo others about Paris Baguette. Whenever I go into the one in Palo Alto, I always walk out thinking "meh." Having the local cafe would be awesome!

5 people like this
Posted by MP
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2017 at 3:40 pm

The issue with PARIS BAGUETTE is not the origin of the chain but is terrible quality

9 people like this
Posted by Love Paris Baguette
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 2, 2017 at 9:07 pm

My family loves Paris Baguette. Let them open in Mountain View and they will either succeed or fail on their own. No need to police which shops and restaurants are "allowed" to open in downtown. I'd be very happy to not have to drive to Palo Alto just to eat there. We could just walk there instead! That other bakery is really nice too (forgot the name), but always too crowded we can never get a table. Alexanders is just to expensive for us. Really looking forward to PB in downtown MV!

5 people like this
Posted by Sukwinder Dixit
a resident of North Bayshore
on Mar 3, 2017 at 6:56 am

I keep the prey for having Philz Coffeewalla come to Castro

5 people like this
Posted by Samson
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2017 at 1:09 am

I am glad to read that Books Inc. will be moving to the former site of BookBuyers. It seemed obvious to me after I saw the sign that the store was moving this summer and that the current location will be available for lease once Books Inc. has moved. It will allow Books Inc. to sell more books, which has been the problem since it first opened its location there. Hopefully, the cafe will also come along with the move. It has been a very lovely place to enjoy coffee and sandwiches while working on laptops. It is also a great place to meet someone.

6 people like this
Posted by Salad Please
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 5, 2017 at 11:45 pm

Happy that Books Inc is just moving and not closing. However, we love the cafe and that would be a huge loss for it to not be part of the new Books Inc or takeover another Castro Street location.

I find it frustrating that all these Palo Alto places are being duplicated in Mountain View (Creapevine, Oren's Hummus, Rocket Fizz, and now Paris Baguette) rather than having new options. But at least the first three brought something new to MV. Stop duplicating existing Castro Street cuisine/concepts (German pub,, Poke, build-a-bowl/box, bubble tea,Indian buffet, fancy patisserie, Mediterraneaan) What happened to variety is the spice of life? There is one Palo Alto restaurant type (they now have 5 vs 0 in MV) would love to see - a build-a-salad place open. They have Sprouts (#1 choice), Plutos, Tender Greens, SweetGreen, Lemonade.

2 people like this
Posted by Ladybug
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2017 at 3:39 pm

I really hope that Caffe Romanza will move with Books Inc. It has been my go-to place to work on Castro St. for the past 6-7 years and all other places have weird table/chairs and slow Internet!

Like this comment
Posted by lan
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jun 17, 2017 at 4:44 pm

In the new store, how about swapping out the kitch sold in the store for some good coffee and pastries? Though I don't have data, I would think that bookstores that serve coffee will retain their customers shopping in the store longer, and customers will return to the bookstore more often.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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