remembering cody’s books

Long time Berkeleyites have a special place in their hearts for Cody’s Books. Along with University Press Books and Moe’s Books, Cody’s provided one of the best book buying experiences around. In their nifty glass walled shop, Cody’s offered all kinds of great books. It wasn’t that Cody’s had the largest selection, though it was big. The owners selected a phenomenal range of materials designed to do well with profs, grad students, writers, policy wonks, and anyone else with a taste for high brow material. They also had a pretty good selection of more routine books, from gardening to car repair.

I grew up in a small resort town, I didn’t have access to fancy book shops or universities. Cody’s provided me with an access point to the intellectual world. At the news stand, you could find Time Magazine next to Anarchy: A Journal of Desired Armed. Around the corner, you could pick up a reader on Chomsky’s linguistics and then read the elegant and masterful Characteristic Classes, by Milnor and Stasheff. My time spent there gave me a view of the intellectual world distinct from the graduate seminar. Life was not about arguing esoterica among experts, it was about creating something that one of Cody’s highly intellectual customers might pick up and say, “that looks important.”

Sadly, Cody’s has now closed after 52 years in the business. The cards were stacked against them. They actually did ok in the Internet age. Die hard fans would still buy books. But Cody’s simply couldn’t survive booming rents. Multiple moves – opening extra branches, going online, moving around town – didn’t solve the problem. June 20, 2008 was the last day. I’ll miss you!

Written by fabiorojas

June 29, 2008 at 10:06 am

Posted in academia, books, fabio

One Response

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  1. That’s too bad. Luckily, I was able to buy a book at Cody’s when I visited Berkeley in April (The Savage Detectives). I planned to only drop in the store for a couple of minutes, but I ended up browsing books for over an hour because the selection was so good.



    June 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm

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