Eljay’s Used Books

In Pittsburgh on September 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm

EAC 162

My first love in Pittsburgh was the used bookstores. The dusty little shops, dimly lit, where the cashiers sat behind their registers and read in silence. I burned entire afternoons there, spending handfuls of change on odd volumes — the plays of Plautus, the early works of the Marquis de Sade, The Film Noir Reader, Plato’s Republic. I loved that some stores housed live animals: a cat darting among the shelves, a dog snoozing by the front desk. My solitary freshman life was a year of quietude, floating through Caliban’s and Jay’s Book Stall.

And, when I at last mustered the courage to venture beyond Oakland, I headed to Eljay’s Used Books, in the South Side.

Lots of bookshops have folded, but Eljay’s is still there. I performed a reading there once — my friend Stephen Segal invited me to read a short story from the magazine he co-edits, Weird Tales — and I’ve accrued some of my favorite books from Enjay’s shelves: Time’s Magpie, The File, and the great spy novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Today, I dropped off some copies of The Iron Mountain. Like most writers-to-be, I’ve long fantasized about having a book of my own in a store like this — displayed prominenty in the “local author” section. And since many people have asked where they can find a copy of The Iron Mountain, I’m happy to say that the Internet is no longer the only option: Frank (Eljay’s owner) is happy to sell you a copy. And if they sell out, all the better; I will be delighted to re-stock.

Eljay’s Used Books is located at 1309 E. Carson Street, South Side.

Photograph taken at 221B Baker Street, London.


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