We Make It Easier for You

Need your holiday books giftwrapped? We can do that! We’ll wrap your Bell’s purchases free, and we have a beautiful variety of paper from which to choose.

Little known secret: Bell’s has free giftwrapping all year round.

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A Quantum Collection

Bell’s has recently acquired a collection of numerous books that center around physics, math, and quantum mechanics. Titles include A Guide to Feynman Diagrams in the Mind-Body Problem; Time – the Familiar Stranger; Prologue to Super Quantum Mechanics: Something Is Rotten in the State of Quantum Mechanics; Angular Momentum in Quantum Mechanics; and many more! If those titles prove too massive for you, we even have Baby Loves Quantum Physics for lighter reading.

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New In: Folio Society!

Bell’s has recently acquired a collection of books published by the Folio Society. The Folio Society prints high-quality editions of all your favorite titles and more with wonderful illustrations. Coming from a previous owner, most of our newest acquisitions are historical non-fiction, but our selection includes fiction titles as well.

A gem in the collection is a number of Folio Society’s series on ancient civilizations, including a four-volume box set Empires of the Ancient Near East: Babylonians, Hittites, Persians, and Egyptians. Additionally, we now have The Incas, The Mayas, and The Aztecs in their own slipcases individually sold. Placed together on the shelf, the spines create a charming gilded parade through history!

Highlights of our broader collection of Folio Society editions include:

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales with wood cut illustrations by various artists

Homer’s Iliad (translated by Robert Fagles) illustrated by Grahame Baker

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (translated by Gregory Rabassa) illustrated by Neil Packer

Additionally, we have a wonderful grouping from the Folio Society of The Letterpress Shakespeare. See the listing in our Featured Selections for more information.

Stop by today to see them in person!

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International Women’s Day

Bell’s Books will be Closed to Celebrate International Women’s Day.

We invite you to take time to remember and honor the women and men throughout history who have struggled for equal rights, and to support “A Day Without a Woman” by encouraging our government to respect and recognize the need for equal protection under the law.

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80th Anniversary Party Huge Success

The City of Palo Alto closed Emerson Street to automobile traffic, leaving room for  music, bookbinding, hand letterpress operations, an author signing, and calligraphy demonstrations in front of Bell’s on October 8th. Over 700 people attended, enjoying birthday cake and a chance to pull the presses. Here’s a rousing cheer for all the wonderful folks who came to celebrate with us, and the artisans who made it possible! And a special thanks to the bibliophiles who found rare volumes that day to add to their collections… Many thanks for all your support throughout the eight decades during which it has been an honor to share our love of books with you!

We’ll be posting photos soon- check back to see yourself here.

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Excitement is in the air as we prepare for our 80th Anniversary Celebration, to be held  October 8th, 2015, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.

We are partnering with the Museum of American Heritage to bring their printing presses here to Bell’s during the event, so visitors can print their own souvenir bookmarks.

They will be joined on the street by Inja Vitero of Inja Ink Calligraphy, who will bring her brushes, pens, and ink to share. Try your hand!

Fine bookbinder Constance Hunter will be demonstrating tools and techniques of sewing used in hand bookbinding…

Theoni Pappas, our renowned local author of math books, will be signing the delightful new edition of her math calendar… a mathematical problem posited and solved for every day of the year…

Rive Gauche, a charming musical trio, will be performing  French songs and Gypsy tunes…

So join the throng of bibliophiles for cake and celebration!

Bell's Books 75th Festivities

Picture during 70th Celebration.

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The last few years have wrought large changes internally at Bell’s, though the casual visitor might not be aware of them. Valeria Bell, who had owned the store since the demise of her husband Herbert Bell in 1992, retired and turned the store over to her daughter Faith in July of 2014. Faith has been working here since 1982, so we hope she knows the ropes by now.  Faith’s husband, Christopher Storer, has retired from teaching philosophy at De Anza College, only to be roped into handling all the office work at Bell’s, and helping in busy times out front behind the cash register. Finally he understands all that late night shop talk! Come say hello to him if you are of a philosophical sort. He is deaccessioning his personal philosophy library, so there will be more in that field coming in.

We are also celebrating our first decade with our beloved staff member Tarna.  Those of you who have seen her in action know that she has a very useful knowledge of language, literature, history, and current events. She’s accumulating her own secondary warehouse to fill any holes in the inventory at Bell’s. Her humor sees us through long days, and lightens the spirits of all around her. Thank you, indispensable Tarna!  Tarna’s daughter Emma spent the summer getting us organized, (an unending task) and we look forward to having her join us again during her break from college in the holiday season.

Our short term staff member Matt landed a collection of two thousand boxes of books, so he has said farewell to us in order to join the full time world of online bookselling. All the best to you, Matt…We hope you find many gems in there!

This leaves us with need of part-time help.  Let us know if you eat, sleep, and breathe books, and have bookstore/library/academic/retail experience,  and want some hours here in Palo Alto’s finest bookstore!



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Holiday Windows

Below are pictures of both our front windows, dressed up a bit for the early holiday season.


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Welcome to Bell’s Books

Our new website is just getting started. We are creating high resolution images of many of our subject areas so that you may browse the shelves as if you were in the store.  We cannot guarantee every book will be available, but if you give us a call, or use the “Contact Us” link, we’ll happily verify availability, notify you of price and condition, and hold for pick up or arrange for delivery. Take a look at the catalog section for a beginning sample.

It has been an exciting year for acquisitions here at Bell’s, with newly arrived collections including:

– Hundreds of large format books on cruise ships;

– Nearly 800 cookbooks from a local chef who worked with Julia Childs;

– A collection of monographs on Frank Lloyd Wright from Menlo Park’s  previous Director of Community Development;

– A massive library of World War II naval and aviation materials,  particularly focussing on the war in the Pacific, that belonged  to Commander Gerald Wheeler, official Naval Historian for the United  States. (We’re still processing this out onto the sales floor.)

I plan to keep this News page updated often with notes on acquisitions, and occasional thoughts on the world of books.

Currently, the nationwide closing of Borders Books has created a huge shift in the economics of book selling and publishing. Borders left hundreds of booksellers out of work, and owed many millions of dollars to publishers who could ill-afford the loss. One of our favorite local publishers, after being requested to provide expensive special print runs and extended credit terms to Borders for the last holiday season, found that when it went into receivership, they not only did not get paid the one hundred thousand dollars they were owed, they could not retrieve their books, and had to suffer the indignity of seeing their lovely work sold off at pennies on the dollar, which had the effect of dampening their ability to sell their inventory to other bookstores at the regular price. So, to those who ask, no, we are not gloating over the demise of Borders. We do, however, see that now that we are the last bookstore in downtown Palo Alto (nothing short of astounding in the light of our proximity to Stanford) we will need to expand our selections in the new book realm. We’ve been building up our inventory  all this year in anticipation of that need, and invite you to let us know what you want to see on our shelves.

Hope to see you in the store soon –  If you’ve been in, you know why Palo Altans have been coming regularly for three quarters of a century. If you haven’t, come discover a Bay Area hidden treasure !

Faith Bell

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