San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Heredia Bookstore a Real Page-Turner

HEREDIA has a new English-language used bookstore. That’s good news, since the unfortunate closing of The Literate Cat in September. Brian’s Books is a little hard to find at first, but it’s just a half block east of the cathedral on the street heading east (toward the Universidad Nacional) inside a little mall and just behind Scott Englander’s chiropractic clinic.

The small size of the store is deceptive. It has room for 10,000 books, hard- and softcover, and owner Brian Smith plans to add used CDs and DVDs. The Tico Times is also sold there.

“We’re taking things one step at a time,” Smith says of his new venture. “We’ll see what the people want.”

There’s not much space for moving around inside the shop, which is full of books. But two big, roomy benches under the mall’s skylight and just outside the store provide a place to rest and read, and Smith is looking into an arrangement with a nearby restaurant for a coffee service to help patrons really feel at home.

PRICES are moderate. Smith promises to keep to the $1-$4 range with trades-ins, and to bring in “new” used books so patrons aren’t forever exchanging the same ones. Smith is from the Philadelphia area. He took time out from WestchesterCollege to work in a foundry and as an auto mechanic and returned to college to graduate in education with a specialty in social science.

He came to Costa Rica in 1997, met and married Ana Sandi of Escazú in 1998. He set up the bookstore last year because he has always been an avid reader. He said it was his first trip outside the United States, his first marriage and his first commercial venture. He and Sandi are expecting another “first” later this year.

THE store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. The area has a parking lot and street parking. For more info, call Smith or Sandi at 308-7098.


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