Books and more

Joe Chiappetto

Photo By Adrienne Rice

My ex-husband and I used to make frequent trips to The Book Gallery, 1203 N. Rock Blvd. in Sparks, to comb through shelves of used movies to add to our ever-growing collection. At $4.95 each and with a constantly changing inventory, plus some friendly suggestions from owner Joe Chiappetto, a trip to The Book Gallery was a little like a treasure hunt. We weren’t always sure what we’d find, but we’d always walk out with at least two or three new videos and the occasional paperback. Chiappetto, 54, was a craps, roulette and blackjack dealer at the Pioneer Casino for 20 years before taking over The Book Gallery from his mother. The Sparks store has been in business for 13 years now, and a new store opened March 1 at 5456 Sun Valley Blvd. Call 356-8900 for the Sparks store or 674-0118 for the Sun Valley store.

What are some of your best sellers?

Books are usually science fiction, mystery and romances. Horror as well. Movies are just about the same. Science fiction sells well, and old classics and Westerns.

What’s your clientele like?

[We’ve had] a lot of steady customers over the years. We’ve had customers that have been with us since the beginning, our local neighborhood customers who walk here.

Do your patrons ask for your recommendations?

A lot of people ask me my choice in books. I know the subjects, I know the authors, and I know the titles. Usually, if they give me a title or an author, I can usually narrow it down. If all they have is a title or an author, I can usually match it up, after all these years [of working in a bookstore].

What do you like to read in your free time?

I like nonfiction, autobiographies and biographies. [I recently read] an Armand Hammer biography. And humor too. I’ve read a lot of Dave Barry. He writes some great stuff. Personally, I collect all the paperbacks [that have a] 35-cent cover price or less. That’s my own hobby. I don’t sell those; I just keep those. I think before 1964 or ‘65, that’s when the 35-cent books came out. And they’ve only had paperbacks since, I think, the 1940s.

With all the big chain bookstores in town, like Barnes & Noble and Borders, has it hurt your business at all?

No, not at all, because we don’t sell what they have, and they don’t sell what we have. Independent new bookstores have a problem, but used bookstores don’t, because we really have a different product than they have. Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com are actually two of our biggest customers, because they buy our used books [on the Internet].

Why did you start selling movies?

We opened up a new section [of the store] around 1990, and so we needed a bigger draw, so we started selling movies. We don’t rent movies. We sell them and trade them. Our policy is we sell the movies for $4.95 and we trade them for $1.50. It’s The Book Gallery, so we’re into books mainly, but videos are a good part of the business.

Are there any movies you’re really looking forward to seeing this summer?

I’d like to see The Scorpion King. I’ve been looking forward to that one. And Spider-Man. I’d like to go see that one as well.