Renaissance Book Shop

★★★☆☆

About Renaissance Book Shop

Hours
OPEN 12 NOON-7 PM MON-FRI ; 12 NOON-5 PM SATURDAY

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3.0 2
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I can respect that a lot of people think highly of Renaissance. There is absolutely no question that they have a huge, huge, huge selection of books.

But.

Built inside what feels like a rat's maze of feels-like-they-might-be-condemned-any-day-now buildings on the river's edge, Renaissance breathes a last whiff of life into some buildings that have seen better days. Ooh, did I say whiff. There's a vaguely foul odor that I've typically attributed to the proximity to the river, but makes it somewhat unpleasant. The buildings themselves look potentially unstable. Inside, the floors are ancient, uneven, sagging, and unrepaired. It feels vaguely dangerous to venture inside.

That might be fine, since it seems likely that the arrangement allows them inexpensive rent.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book store is about the same. There are shelves, tall shelves, everywhere. They are filled with books. Many books. Feels like billions of books. So many books that they're piled on the floors, piled in boxes, making already narrow aisles narrower. The light is highly variable, many aisles are dimly lit. It looks like their attempts to keep up with the incoming batches of books gave up the ghost a few decades ago when they ran out of shelf space (I don't know if that's actually the case, just trying to describe the feeling I get). The place is dusty (bad for allergies), disorganized, the employees are typically just sitting around (not like they could be shelving books, etc).

I guess I can see why some people like the place, because if you were just coming to browse and buy, you could probably find many interesting things. However, when I'm going to shop for books, I am almost always looking for specific books, and if not, then I am looking for specific authors. Renaissance makes this a nightmare, and at this point, I'm only visiting every few years, usually when I've failed to find something at Downtown Books over on Wisconsin, which is smaller but extremely well done.

1
★☆☆☆☆

I can respect that a lot of people think highly of Renaissance. There is absolutely no question that they have a huge, huge, huge selection of books.

But.

Built inside what feels like a rat's maze of feels-like-they-might-be-condemned-any-day-now buildings on the river's edge, Renaissance breathes a last whiff of life into some buildings that have seen better days. Ooh, did I say whiff. There's a vaguely foul odor that I've typically attributed to the proximity to the river, but makes it somewhat unpleasant. The buildings themselves look potentially unstable. Inside, the floors are ancient, uneven, sagging, and unrepaired. It feels vaguely dangerous to venture inside.

That might be fine, since it seems likely that the arrangement allows them inexpensive rent.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book store is about the same. There are shelves, tall shelves, everywhere. They are filled with books. Many books. Feels like billions of books. So many books that they're piled on the floors, piled in boxes, making already narrow aisles narrower. The light is highly variable, many aisles are dimly lit. It looks like their attempts to keep up with the incoming batches of books gave up the ghost a few decades ago when they ran out of shelf space (I don't know if that's actually the case, just trying to describe the feeling I get). The place is dusty (bad for allergies), disorganized, the employees are typically just sitting around (not like they could be shelving books, etc).

I guess I can see why some people like the place, because if you were just coming to browse and buy, you could probably find many interesting things. However, when I'm going to shop for books, I am almost always looking for specific books, and if not, then I am looking for specific authors. Renaissance makes this a nightmare, and at this point, I'm only visiting every few years, usually when I've failed to find something at Downtown Books over on Wisconsin, which is smaller but extremely well done.

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This huge downtown store is the destination for true book lovers. They sell the hugest selection of used books that I have ever seen. I found many out of print books at great prices.

5
★★★★★

This huge downtown store is the destination for true book lovers. They sell the hugest selection of used books that I have ever seen. I found many out of print books at great prices.

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