If you can't judge a book by its cover, talk to Thom Butcher and Melanie Tighe. The owners of independent used bookstore Dog-Eared Pages in Northwest Phoenix are human encyclopedias of literary lore, and can help you navigate your way through their labyrinths of books (47,550, to be exact) to find the one. Or two or three or four.
You can't judge Dog-Eared Pages by its storefront, either.
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Opened in 2008 and tucked into the corner of a strip mall on 32nd Street just south of Bell Road, it looks like one small room when you step in the front door. But this is just the main room, where they stock new releases, rare books, and leather-bound editions.
Hallways to the left and straight ahead lead to a lounge area that hosts book clubs, signings, yoga classes, and poetry readings; and a massive storeroom of bulging bookshelves divided by more than 14 genres. There's a ton of "General Fiction," but even niche genres like Travel, Art, and Garden have their own sizeable sections.
And unlike many used bookstores with huge inventories, Dog-Eared Pages has its entire catalogue in a database and for sale online.
Books by local authors are displayed in the front room and sold on consignment. "I believe in supporting local authors," Tighe says. "And I believe writers are readers, too, so it's a smart idea."
The Dog-Eared Pages' "Books for Soldiers" program was Butcher's idea. People submit the name and address of a soldier overseas (along with their literary tastes), and he sends paperbacks to the Middle East by the box full.
"Our goal is to send 100,000 books overseas," Butcher says. "I did the math: I can fit 26 books in a box, so I'd need the names of 3,847 soldiers to meet the goal."
To submit a soldier's name, view a calendar of events, or browse Dog-Eared Pages' book catalogue, visit www.dogearedpagesusedbooks.com or drop by the store 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 12 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
(Also, Tuesday, May 4 is Dog-Eared Pages' day at Groupon. Click here for a coupon for $20 worth of books for $10).