Bart’s Books is is the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore in the country. If traveling to Ojai, book lovers should stop here. When visiting any city, I love to check out the independent bookstores. Bringing home a book is my favorite souvenir from any trip, and a local bookstore offers a unique insider view of a community.
Patrons can browse and relax in the open sunlight of the main courtyard seated at patio tables and chairs. There are shelves and shelves of used titles lining the interior walls, and a few indoor rooms house rare art editions, poetry and classics, and a substantial offering of new adult and children’s fiction.
The used children's section next to the cash register has a vintage school chair and some wooden blocks for little ones to explore. I am grateful to every bookstore that makes a welcoming space for kids. While training kids to love books and become future patrons, they are also giving parents a chance to browse unhindered by keeping kids preoccupied and happy. Used bookstores are an ideal place for finding cheap disposable material for little book manglers. (Also, you may be more likely to avoid licensed animated movie adaptations and instead feed them more classic interesting stories, if that kind of thing matters to you.)
On this visit I promised myself I’d leave with only one purchase, but it was too difficult and I left with four, and could have selected several more. I’m sure most bibliophiles enter a space like this and see the future of their own homes if they don’t stop collecting soon. I am trying to not drown my family in books, and must slow the creeping tide. If I lived in Ojai, I’d be a regular here, perusing new additions, drinking tea and eating stick candy under an umbrella with a stack of old new friends.