WINNER: Cheever Books
3613 Broadway • (210) 824-2665
> Cheever Books smells like a used bookstore ought to.
It's a scent so specific that it can only be adequately described as "old book smell." It smacks you in the face when you walk in the door and lingers in your nostrils long after you've walked back out onto Broadway.
The source of the aroma is the thousands of tomes stacked floor-to-ceiling in the old, blue building, first opened in 1986. The store buys and sells books, and specializes in rare copies. Many of those are located to the left as you walk in the store. They include signed copies, limited editions and leather-bound titles like The Brothers Karamazov and works by Goethe. On the top shelves, almost brushing the ceiling, sit big-ticket items: 21 volumes of Ernest Hemingway for $2,750, the full works of Charles Dickens, the teachings of Plato.
Walking farther into the deeper recesses of the store incites the best kind of claustrophobia, as the high, cluttered shelves and makeshift stacks of books on the floor force bibliophiles to tip-toe between sections. There's a full fiction room across from a history section, which includes specific spots for San Antonio history, Texana and western migration in the United States.
There is something in the store for everyone, but you've got to actually go there to get it. Cheever Books doesn't have a website, which somehow feels right. It's the kind of place that must be felt, seen and smelled to be appreciated. Find a book and a spot to nestle into the stacks.