Thirty years ago, Book Alley started in an Old Pasadena alley. Twenty years ago, Tom Rogers bought the business and moved to a much larger building at 1252 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena.
By Cheryl Cabot
Owning and managing a bookstore was a natural fit for Rogers. He started his “book” career working for Borders Group, Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of the original Borders Book Stores. He eventually moved to Thousand Oaks, CA to open Borders there, and then to Borders South Lake in Pasadena, where he was the general manager until it closed.
About the time Borders declared bankruptcy in 2011, Rogers heard that Book Alley was for sale, so, he continued his career in books. Book Alley claims to have the largest selection of art, architecture and photography books in the area, but it has books on all subjects as well as a children’s section.
Now housed in a much larger building, Book Alley boasts over “50,000 titles in-stock, from genre fiction priced at $2.50 to highly collectible titles.” The store stretches back with every shelf, and often the floor and furniture, full of books. If the shelves look familiar, it’s because Rodgers bought many of the bookshelves when Border’s closed in Pasadena. Nearly all the books are cataloged online. In addition to its website, all of its books are listed for sale on Amazon.
During the pandemic, online sales “went through the roof,” but that has declined this past year, and Rogers is trying to figure out how to rebuild the online business. That being said, he has a steady stream of customers in-store, including many regulars. With all the inventory listed in its database, customers can find a requested book quickly. Rogers purchases much of the inventory through private sales of personal libraries.
“We are a world-class bookstore,” Rogers said. “We provide all the services that bookstores do. We have dollar books and we have $5,000 books (one is signed by Hunter S. Thompson, ‘Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail,’ about George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign) and everything in between as well as growing our selection of new books.”
Rogers is proud of Book Alley’s eclectic selection of new, used and rare books. It is open 7 days a week.
We hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, please consider supporting the Colorado Boulevard’s journalism.
Billionaires, hedge fund owners and local imposters have a powerful hold on the information that reaches the public. Colorado Boulevard stands to serve the public interest – not profit motives.
While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and climate crisis while supporting reproductive rights and social justice. We provide a fresh perspective on local politics – one so often missing from so-called ‘local’ journalism.
You can access Colorado Boulevard’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. People like you, informed readers, keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence, and accessible to everyone.
Please consider supporting Colorado Boulevard today. Thank you. (Click to Support)