Teetering mountains of occult books

From the Boing Boing Flickr pool, the glorious, teetering books in the occult section at a Boston bookstore, courtesy of Dan Swenson. Now that's my kind of woowoo firetrap!

new age occult



  1. Ray: Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.

    Peter: You’re right, no human being would stack books like this.

    1. true – maybe they would move more books if they re-labeled the section. I see ‘occult’ and I expect to see books with titles like ‘vaccinating your familiar’ or ‘astral-projection for dummies’

    2. Nah, they’re occult books, just wrapped in King and Koontz dustcovers just to make sure no one accidentally reads them without saying, ‘Klaatu Barada Nikto’ first.

  2. All the book titles I can read are either Stephen King or Dean Koontz. That doesn’t seem very New Age or Occult just Pop Horror.

  3. Jesus Christ look at the carpet. What’s the bets the bottom three feet of those stacks really *are* teeming with the moist moieties of hell?

  4. Derby Square Book Store Salem Ma. Just make sure you ask for assistance when you see something you want to purchase.

  5. That looks like the “occult” sections at my local used bookstores: mostly overstock King/Straub/Koontz, with a few gems mixed in. Hooray for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell down there at the bottom.

    Although those sections rarely live up to the signs, the hope of finding a treasure buried in the sloping stack always make my heart beat a bit faster. One day I hope to find a stack that actually lives up to the sign’s promise.

    Until then, does anyone want to open a Baka Phoenix franchise it Texas?

  6. That is the Derby Square Bookshop in Salem, MA, not Boston. Calling Salem, Boston is like calling Oakland San Francisco.

  7. The comments on Flickr say its Derby Square Bookshop in Salem, which I’ve been to.

    Meh, New Age / Occult means its mostly new age rubbish, the eldrich tomes hidden away in the sealed archives at Arkham University, this is not . . .

  8. I’ve been in this place, it is in Salem. The photo doesn’t do justice to the claustrophobia in there. The whole (two other aisles) of the shop are like this or worse. The sign on the ceiling is the only acknowledgment that there could be any organization. Its worse at night. Then the shadows began to gather, first little furtive ones under the table, and then bolder ones in the dark panelled corners.

    1. If anyone is interested in creepy-packed-to-the-gills bookstore (albeit, neatly), one need look no further than John L. King Bookstore in Detroit. Truly, it’s fabulous. They have everything. I’m sure they have the original tablets of Moses there somewhere, minus the Ark, of course.

  9. There’s a bookstore like this on Brighton Ave. in Allston, MA (a neighborhood of Boston). I spent many happy hours among its book towers. That’s where I thought this photo was taken… no?

  10. Is the volume of these books a reflection of the fact that people are ready to get rid of them and few are willing to buy them?

  11. Since being overbearingly anal is one of the true joys of the commentatin’ art, let me say that this is no firetrap. I used to work in a library, and I was told that a big roomful of books is, in fact, almost fireproof. See, in order to start a big merry fire you need two things: combustible material and air. In a library or densely-packed bookstore, the paper-to-air ratio is way off. If you managed to start a fire, it’d be a slow smolder instead of a conflagration.

    Now, if you unstacked all those books and tore a bunch of pages out, then you could have yourself a nice fire.

  12. Jeez. I’ve been in junkyards that are safer and way better tended than this place, if this picture is at all representative. It looks like something out of Hoarders. For the love of Bill Shakespeare, Mr or Ms Proprietor, hit the yard sales next Saturday and pick up a few $5 bookshelves. Then hire some high school kid to shovel up what remains of your floor treatment and either lay down a couple rolls of shag picked up from someplace other than R’lyeh Remnants, or just slap down a coat of garage floor epoxy.

    Nobody expects Dewey Decimal or alphabetization from you, but damn… show an ounce of pride, can you? Tuck that shirt in, brush those teeth, kill the spiders, Lysol the fungus, and maybe sell a book or two.

    Christ, this looks worse than my own garage, and I’m ashamed to let friends or family in there, let alone paying customers.

    1. If you had ever been to this store you would know how amazing it is – the store owners know where every single book is located and will get it for you no matter how deep it is in the stacks. I’ve been shopping here since I was a kid, and it’s an amazing place. Much better than those sterile bookstores that I find much more intimidating than this.

      1. If you had ever been to this store you would know how amazing it is

        Fair enough. I was just judging it by the pictures, which show an awful lot of late-20th-century bestsellers and not a whole lot of obvious treasure. And I suffer from an excess of independence when I shop; I don’t like to have to ask. Nor would I enjoy requesting assistance retrieving a book from near the bottom of one of their stacks, for fear of causing an avalanche that might bury some poor bystander ‘neath a smothering mountain of V.C. Andrews books.

        The Old Julian Book House is more to my taste. Lots and lots of everything, from bestsellers to chronic nonsellers, all in a charming and tidily claustrophobic space that more closely resembles “well-read Hobbit’s hole” as opposed to “junior librarian’s restocking hellscape.”

        But you must forgive this crotchety old fart’s bookstore prejudices. I love books and I love people who love books. If the proprietors know where everything is, then the way they keep their store is not too dissimilar to how I keep my desk at work. I shouldn’t be so judgmental.

    1. I just checked out your pictures. Man, it looks like they never, ever turn down an opportunity to buy someone’s King, Koontz, Grisham, or Oates books.

      Take away the airport best-sellers and they might have twice the breathing room.

  13. My favorite independent bookstore owner, Charles, started taking used books in order to compete, sometime last year. He told me one day about the kinds of books people were bringing him, just to get them out of the house, and their value. Folks often have no idea of the value of old books. Charles sometimes ended up in the position of brokering for people. It was mind-boggling.

    Those stacks of books may just be the ‘tailings’ tossed down the hillside of a book-miner sifting through the detritus for treasure. Wot!

  14. Surely running a bookstore this way becomes self-defeating at some point? (A point probably much earlier than what’s pictured…) Talk about intimidating your customers!

  15. It may not be a firetrap, but I wouldn’t want to be there in an earthquake.

    Earthquakes aren’t common there, but they’re not unknown.

    We had a guy here in LA who had stacks like that occupying most of an SRO hotel room, leaving only enough room for a narrow cot and enough space to sit on it. He was badly injured when the stacks collapsed on him in one of our smaller quakes.

  16. I love places like this where you can get lost for hours in mountains of old used books!
    Unfortunately these days, they are getting harder to find .

  17. Diskovery in Allston was similarly piled when I used to go there 10 yrs ago. That picture could have easily been taken there.

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