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Bart's Books, Ojai

4.9
#3 of 22 in Things to do in Ojai
Bart’s Books, at the corner of Matilija and Canada streets in Ojai, CA, is the home to the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore in the U.S.A.

In 1964 Bart’s Books was little more than a sparkle in the eye of Richard Bartinsdale whose collection of books had gotten so overwhelming that he constructed a series of book cases along the sidewalk so that passersby could peruse the titles.

In lieu of a cash register, “Bart” left coffee cans atop the book cases. People would select a title or two and leave payment in the cans, giving birth to Bart’s world famous tradition of selling books via the honor system.

Since that time Bart’s Books has become host to nearly one million books ranging from the thirty-five cent specials which line the outside walls and are still for sale on the honor system, to rare, out of print first editions, and art books valued in the thousands of dollars.

Nearly half a century after its inception, Bart’s Books continues to mystify patrons, journalists, and book lovers with a character and charm that beggars description and a selection of books that is beyond compare.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
84 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • August 5, 2017
    Hard to believe this place still exists after all these years, but its better organized than it ever was. Still a quaint staple of Ojai, lots to browse in various rooms. Very interesting for book coll...  more »
  • July 15, 2017
    Definitely worth the 20-mile detour off Rt. 101 north of Ventura. Not like any other bookstore you'll ever visit. Amazingly broad selection of used books in a remarkable open-air setting. Their histor...  more »
  • July 10, 2017
    A trusting, funky place (books outside with a $ box when they are closed), selling well loved and worn books. Turn in old books and get a credit (I just used one from 8 years ago!). A great hang out p...  more »
Google
  • June 20, 2017
    I love Bart's. They have an amazing selection of used books organized in outdoor shelves around an old local home. The entire property has been converted to bookshelf space, even the house interior. There are plenty of places to sit, browse, and just enjoy the smell of old books. They usually have classical or other soft music playing and if you're lucky you'll see the shop can wandering the stacks. There is no onsite restroom, so if you're planning a long stay, jeep that in mind. Nonfiction takes up a full half of the store and the employees are well-versed in locations of any book or author you might be seeking.
  • May 17, 2017
    This is the most amazing place - you can get lost for hours. They have every book you could imagine on every subject. Simple the greatest used bookstore in the world. My only question is being outdoor open air bookstore - how do they keep the books so well protected from the elements? We went the day after a heavy rain and everything looked just fine. Great Staff.
  • June 12, 2017
    Two wonderful past times to be enjoyed at the same time: browsing for books and enjoying the great outdoors. Knowledgeable and helpful staff to guide you to the correct book section. For those you consider the benefits of recycling books this is the perfect spot.
  • July 3, 2017
    Amazing open air bookstore. Very strong in most categories. One block off the main street but worth seeking out while in Ojai.
  • June 28, 2017
    Very pleasant older style bookstore ...used and a few new ones. Cubby holes to sit and peruse options. Hot in summer in that it has an open architecture.

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