Myopic Books

★★★★☆
  • 1564 N Milwaukee Ave

    Chicago, IL 60622

    Map & Directions
  • 773-862-4882

About Myopic Books

Hours
Monday To Friday From 11:00 AM To 01:00 AM Saturday From 11:00 AM To 01:00 AM Sunday From 11:00 AM To 10:00 PM

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Sweet little shop that operates in a slightly we-wish-for-yesterday mindset. Not exactly well-versed in highly collectible books and not exactly in step with modernity either. Upon stepping in to its space, which was mostly empty, I had a undetectable vibration in my pocket which resulted in my answering my phone in a near whisper. Why such hush-hush tones? Well, as a former library employee, starting a the age of 10 - and in a era when spinster maid head librarians STERNLY shushed you - as well as having owned one of the better antiquarian bookstores in the Northeast, it just still stands as a rule of etiquette for me. The store clerks, who had been babbling aloud among themselves, were horrified, and I was rushed upon by the very spirit of the spinster maid librarian in the form of one gay-bear-'ish-looking chap and some silly exchange took place in which a NO CELLPHONES-type sign was pointed out to me, which one would have to guess they assume everyone gravitates to upon entry. And the purpose of enforcing such a rule when I, the phone user, was speaking so low that even my traveling companion standing next to me couldn't hear me? Perhaps there's the fear that someone on the street might peer in, see me, and run screaming down the street that cellphone use in now permitted in the shop, thereby producing a rush of undesirables into their establishment, cellphones pressed to their ears. Maybe its just a case of the old spinster adage: "If we let YOU use your cellphone, we would have to let EVERYONE use their cellphone." Retail anal-retention aside, they allowed me to actually be a customer in their shop, but when it actually came to the business of two very highly collectible books for which I was searching, they proved to be absolute amateurs. I inquired about a specialized Non-Fiction Nature/Ecology subject by an early 20th-Century writer who huge popularity at the time was due to her success as a romance novel writer. Upon being given the titles by me, he proved that his knowledge of her extended itself to only her mediocre and low-priced novels which fetch, at tops, $50 a volume for mint, 1st editions. "No, no," I explained, "I'm looking for two of her obscure Non-Fiction works." Amidst the confusion, I think I also heard him say they don't have an inventory of their books on their computer. Did he have section for fine books, I inquired? A locked case perhaps? He pointed me to a case at the end of the counter. I went to the case, which was blocked off and had a sign saying "Ask for assistance." I asked for assistance and more confusion ensued on his part as he tried to direct me to their Nature section. THOSE books, he very smartly informed me about the locked case books, are around $50 and UP. When I informed him that the two volumes, for which Ive been searching for some years, are valued STARTING at $350 for mint First Editions, he scrambled quickly to prove his knowledge of her work by pulling up a list FROM THE INTERNET that included digital and kindle editions of her romance novels which, as he was also quick to point out, were driving down the prices of her print versions. I finally had to laugh. A bookstore full of wanna-be late 20th Century spinster librarians whose limited knowledge of fine and collectible books is only surpassed by their misguided attempts to prove to a collector like me that they know more about books than someone who has worked in, bought, and sold books for over 40 years? Can someone just get me to John King Books in Detroit or The Strand in New York City RIGHT NOW? At least there I can pick up my cellphone and call fellow buyers I shop for with news of whats available and drive up sales for THOSE stores. This one is too busy PRACTICING to be a bookstore to ever actually sell to a serious collector.

1
★☆☆☆☆

Sweet little shop that operates in a slightly we-wish-for-yesterday mindset. Not exactly well-versed in highly collectible books and not exactly in step with modernity either. Upon stepping in to its space, which was mostly empty, I had a undetectable vibration in my pocket which resulted in my answering my phone in a near whisper. Why such hush-hush tones? Well, as a former library employee, starting a the age of 10 - and in a era when spinster maid head librarians STERNLY shushed you - as well as having owned one of the better antiquarian bookstores in the Northeast, it just still stands as a rule of etiquette for me. The store clerks, who had been babbling aloud among themselves, were horrified, and I was rushed upon by the very spirit of the spinster maid librarian in the form of one gay-bear-'ish-looking chap and some silly exchange took place in which a NO CELLPHONES-type sign was pointed out to me, which one would have to guess they assume everyone gravitates to upon entry. And the purpose of enforcing such a rule when I, the phone user, was speaking so low that even my traveling companion standing next to me couldn't hear me? Perhaps there's the fear that someone on the street might peer in, see me, and run screaming down the street that cellphone use in now permitted in the shop, thereby producing a rush of undesirables into their establishment, cellphones pressed to their ears. Maybe its just a case of the old spinster adage: "If we let YOU use your cellphone, we would have to let EVERYONE use their cellphone." Retail anal-retention aside, they allowed me to actually be a customer in their shop, but when it actually came to the business of two very highly collectible books for which I was searching, they proved to be absolute amateurs. I inquired about a specialized Non-Fiction Nature/Ecology subject by an early 20th-Century writer who huge popularity at the time was due to her success as a romance novel writer. Upon being given the titles by me, he proved that his knowledge of her extended itself to only her mediocre and low-priced novels which fetch, at tops, $50 a volume for mint, 1st editions. "No, no," I explained, "I'm looking for two of her obscure Non-Fiction works." Amidst the confusion, I think I also heard him say they don't have an inventory of their books on their computer. Did he have section for fine books, I inquired? A locked case perhaps? He pointed me to a case at the end of the counter. I went to the case, which was blocked off and had a sign saying "Ask for assistance." I asked for assistance and more confusion ensued on his part as he tried to direct me to their Nature section. THOSE books, he very smartly informed me about the locked case books, are around $50 and UP. When I informed him that the two volumes, for which Ive been searching for some years, are valued STARTING at $350 for mint First Editions, he scrambled quickly to prove his knowledge of her work by pulling up a list FROM THE INTERNET that included digital and kindle editions of her romance novels which, as he was also quick to point out, were driving down the prices of her print versions. I finally had to laugh. A bookstore full of wanna-be late 20th Century spinster librarians whose limited knowledge of fine and collectible books is only surpassed by their misguided attempts to prove to a collector like me that they know more about books than someone who has worked in, bought, and sold books for over 40 years? Can someone just get me to John King Books in Detroit or The Strand in New York City RIGHT NOW? At least there I can pick up my cellphone and call fellow buyers I shop for with news of whats available and drive up sales for THOSE stores. This one is too busy PRACTICING to be a bookstore to ever actually sell to a serious collector.

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.

Sweet little shop that operates in a slightly we-wish-for-yesterday mindset. Not exactly well-versed in highly collectible books and not exactly in step with modernity either. Upon stepping in to its space, which was mostly empty, I had a

3
★★★★★

Sweet little shop that operates in a slightly we-wish-for-yesterday mindset. Not exactly well-versed in highly collectible books and not exactly in step with modernity either. Upon stepping in to its space, which was mostly empty, I had a

.

To re-examine some claims made by previous reviewers, we found most of these to be true, but some of them to be unsubstantiated:

"Overpriced books" - Store carries mostly mass-market books. Objection seems to be that many of these books could be bought for $0.01 online, and including shipping still be much less expensive than in the store. This is true. However, those customers are not, in fact, buying the book online: consider the overhead cost of operating a storefront.The comparison between two different spheres of commerce is unfair, and the business could not survive if prices were made much lower. It would be fair to say that there is no advantage in going to the store if price is the customer's only criterion.

Mandatory bag check - Most bookstores do not have a required bag check. But neither is it uncommon. In this case it seems justifiable given the sketchy location of the store. One person raises the valid counter-argument that store employees should not necessarily be entrusted with bags containing valuables. Whether or not such a concern is justified, people with such a strong preoccupation with the safety of their property would have to avoid the store because the check is not optional.

No public restroom - Many businesses do not have public restrooms, and once again this seems justifiable given the location.

"Employees too surly to work in fast food" - This comment is accurate. We witnessed unacceptable behavior by an employee of the store and insisted adamantly on speaking to the management about it, but were given a snotty, dismissive response. From this we can infer that behavior which would get an employee fired from food service jobs is tolerated in this store. There is a consistent history of customer complaints on this subject of staff rudeness, ineptitude, or bad attitude. Since the owner lives out-of-state and cannot directly oversee the workers, they think they can be openly hostile and abusive towards the customers, and get away with it.

"Store smells like urine" - There was a foul odor in the store, which seemed more concentrated near the rear section of the ground level. It smelled more like vomit than like urine. It may have been human vomit. Or it has been suggested in previous reviews that the cats that roam through the store may be urinating and/or vomiting under the bookshelves.

"Store is dirty, or ramshackle" - It was dusty, but not exactly "dirty". There was one area in the upper level which was dirty and covered with broken pieces of wood, which looked like debris from an antique building,
abandoned there for no apparent reason. The books themselves are not dirty. Some of the construction is dubious but did not see anything obviously structurally unsound or dangerous. It seemed that the store is not often cleaned.

Idiosyncratic policies - To use one of several possible examples, there were small signs posted there which
state "price of unshelved books will be raised by one dollar". Seems like an idle threat, because it is not in
the store's best interest to increase prices. Gives the impression of laziness (in most bookstores it is the
normal task of employees to reshelve books). Gives the impression of pettiness (which is consistent with other observations about the staff's attitude).

1
★☆☆☆☆

To re-examine some claims made by previous reviewers, we found most of these to be true, but some of them to be unsubstantiated:

"Overpriced books" - Store carries mostly mass-market books. Objection seems to be that many of these books could be bought for $0.01 online, and including shipping still be much less expensive than in the store. This is true. However, those customers are not, in fact, buying the book online: consider the overhead cost of operating a storefront.The comparison between two different spheres of commerce is unfair, and the business could not survive if prices were made much lower. It would be fair to say that there is no advantage in going to the store if price is the customer's only criterion.

Mandatory bag check - Most bookstores do not have a required bag check. But neither is it uncommon. In this case it seems justifiable given the sketchy location of the store. One person raises the valid counter-argument that store employees should not necessarily be entrusted with bags containing valuables. Whether or not such a concern is justified, people with such a strong preoccupation with the safety of their property would have to avoid the store because the check is not optional.

No public restroom - Many businesses do not have public restrooms, and once again this seems justifiable given the location.

"Employees too surly to work in fast food" - This comment is accurate. We witnessed unacceptable behavior by an employee of the store and insisted adamantly on speaking to the management about it, but were given a snotty, dismissive response. From this we can infer that behavior which would get an employee fired from food service jobs is tolerated in this store. There is a consistent history of customer complaints on this subject of staff rudeness, ineptitude, or bad attitude. Since the owner lives out-of-state and cannot directly oversee the workers, they think they can be openly hostile and abusive towards the customers, and get away with it.

"Store smells like urine" - There was a foul odor in the store, which seemed more concentrated near the rear section of the ground level. It smelled more like vomit than like urine. It may have been human vomit. Or it has been suggested in previous reviews that the cats that roam through the store may be urinating and/or vomiting under the bookshelves.

"Store is dirty, or ramshackle" - It was dusty, but not exactly "dirty". There was one area in the upper level which was dirty and covered with broken pieces of wood, which looked like debris from an antique building,
abandoned there for no apparent reason. The books themselves are not dirty. Some of the construction is dubious but did not see anything obviously structurally unsound or dangerous. It seemed that the store is not often cleaned.

Idiosyncratic policies - To use one of several possible examples, there were small signs posted there which
state "price of unshelved books will be raised by one dollar". Seems like an idle threat, because it is not in
the store's best interest to increase prices. Gives the impression of laziness (in most bookstores it is the
normal task of employees to reshelve books). Gives the impression of pettiness (which is consistent with other observations about the staff's attitude).

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.

"Employees too surly to work in fast food" - This comment is accurate. We witnessed shocking and unacceptable behavior by an employee of the store and insisted adamantly on speaking to the management about it, but were given a snotty, dismissive response. From this we can infer that behavior that would certainly get the employee fired from food service jobs is tolerated in this store. There is also a very consistent history of customer complaints on this subject of staff ineptitude and bad attitude. The owner of the store lives out-of state and cannot supervise his employees, so they think they can be openly hostile and abusive towards the customers and get away with it. These neurotic children have a self-image so unrealistic as to give the impression that they are mentally ill.

0
★☆☆☆☆

"Employees too surly to work in fast food" - This comment is accurate. We witnessed shocking and unacceptable behavior by an employee of the store and insisted adamantly on speaking to the management about it, but were given a snotty, dismissive response. From this we can infer that behavior that would certainly get the employee fired from food service jobs is tolerated in this store. There is also a very consistent history of customer complaints on this subject of staff ineptitude and bad attitude. The owner of the store lives out-of state and cannot supervise his employees, so they think they can be openly hostile and abusive towards the customers and get away with it. These neurotic children have a self-image so unrealistic as to give the impression that they are mentally ill.

Pros: Could be a mid-level bookstore if it were not for the staff

Cons: Obnoxious staff, attitude, dirty, mismanaged

.

...Myopic Books is a decent option for used-book shopping in Chicago. Unlike many used bookstores in Chicago, Myopic is fairly spacious, with seating throughout the store. Myopic is relatively expensive for a used bookstore (books I've bought have averaged around $8-9), but it makes up for the expense with its impressive selection of used fiction. The selection of used cookbooks is also pretty wide, but that of other areas, like European history and mythology, is average or below average.

PROS: open late!
CONS: relatively expensive

4
★★★★☆

...Myopic Books is a decent option for used-book shopping in Chicago. Unlike many used bookstores in Chicago, Myopic is fairly spacious, with seating throughout the store. Myopic is relatively expensive for a used bookstore (books I've bought have averaged around $8-9), but it makes up for the expense with its impressive selection of used fiction. The selection of used cookbooks is also pretty wide, but that of other areas, like European history and mythology, is average or below average.

PROS: open late!
CONS: relatively expensive

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I've been here dozens of times and picked up tons of great used books. The store is a little hard to navigate at first and I don't suggest you go there with a specific book in mind, instead look for new books and take a chance on them. The books are cheap enough that you can pick up a few everytime you go. The store is multi leveled and they sell newspapers up front, but no magazines. The employees are very nice and it's very cozy inside the store. Parking on milwaukee is extremely difficult due to the sheer number of stores in the area.

PROS: cheap used books
CONS: hard to find specific titles

5
★★★★★

I've been here dozens of times and picked up tons of great used books. The store is a little hard to navigate at first and I don't suggest you go there with a specific book in mind, instead look for new books and take a chance on them. The books are cheap enough that you can pick up a few everytime you go. The store is multi leveled and they sell newspapers up front, but no magazines. The employees are very nice and it's very cozy inside the store. Parking on milwaukee is extremely difficult due to the sheer number of stores in the area.

PROS: cheap used books
CONS: hard to find specific titles

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I like this old bookstore. Pays cash for your unwanted books and their selection is not bad at all. I was able to complete my VC Andrews collection and get an updated version of a dictionary for less than half what I would have paid at a retail book store.

PROS: Cheap Books!
CONS: I wish it was closer to the other side of town. :)

5
★★★★★

I like this old bookstore. Pays cash for your unwanted books and their selection is not bad at all. I was able to complete my VC Andrews collection and get an updated version of a dictionary for less than half what I would have paid at a retail book store.

PROS: Cheap Books!
CONS: I wish it was closer to the other side of town. :)

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Myopic is a Wicker Park landmark, and everything you could want from a used bookstore. Piles of books of all types, art house atmosphere, and a free-roaming cat and dog.

PROS: Huge selection, good prices
CONS: A bit musty

5
★★★★★

Myopic is a Wicker Park landmark, and everything you could want from a used bookstore. Piles of books of all types, art house atmosphere, and a free-roaming cat and dog.

PROS: Huge selection, good prices
CONS: A bit musty

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Myopic is one of my favorite places to troll for hours for used books. The staff are engaging, the selections are broad and thoughtful, and the setting is functional if not fancy. Some of the aisles will either seem claustrophobic or like a good way to meet a special friend. Glad to see them in their new space; better light, and the upstairs sitting room with the bay window overlooking Milwaukee Avenue traffic is much more inviting than the old spot facing the alley and the el.

2
★★★★★

Myopic is one of my favorite places to troll for hours for used books. The staff are engaging, the selections are broad and thoughtful, and the setting is functional if not fancy. Some of the aisles will either seem claustrophobic or like a good way to meet a special friend. Glad to see them in their new space; better light, and the upstairs sitting room with the bay window overlooking Milwaukee Avenue traffic is much more inviting than the old spot facing the alley and the el.

Pros: Wide selection, Great staff, Literate not stuffy

Cons: Music section weak, No A/C (gasp!)

Editorial from

In Short
A neighborhood fixture since before Wicker Park was hipster ground-zero, this is one of the quirky, inviting places that made the neighborhood so cool in the first place. Besides some division by genre, fiction is all…

 

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