Touring three newish Las Vegas Valley bookstores

By author Neil Gaiman’s reckoning, every town needs a bookstore. “It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul,” he wrote in his 2001 novel American Gods.

Las Vegas passes that test, even though it has seen the closure of several local favorites during the past few years. More favorable times might lie ahead, however, as the Valley has recently welcomed three new bookstores to serve voracious readers.

Music plays softly over speakers as one digs through the stacks at the forgettably named, yet otherwise interesting, Las Vegas Books (4790 S. Eastern Ave.). The shop, which opened in November, has a classic used-bookstore feel. Pre-loved books with cracked spines line the shelves, while many more sit in boxes and on tables waiting to be organized. Chaos? For some, maybe. But a treasure trove of discovery for others.

Don’t be fooled, however: Las Vegas Books has every item carefully cataloged, staff members can easily look anything up in their database and they know their stock well. When I asked for a title, an employee knew exactly where it was without even consulting the system.

Las Vegas Books features the expected genres, from memoirs to sci-fi, but the shop digs deep into others, like chess and poker, and it offers many Spanish-language books, too. Prices are about what you’d expect from a used bookstore, typically from a couple bucks to around $10.

Creating a store account brings several benefits. The store can create a wish list for you and let you know—either by email or phone—when a title on your list comes into stock. It can also let you know if you’re about to buy a title you’ve purchased previously (which can happen, as book people know).

Diamond Sutra Books (107 E. Charleston Blvd.#105), located on the ground floor of Downtown’s Arts Factory, set up shop just a couple of months ago. The store has a lived-in vibe, with a couple of layers and a coffee table at the center. Knickknacks abound, adding to that homey feel.

Books by familiar authors, like Anne Rice and Stephen King, are easy to spot, along with timeless works by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. There are sections devoted to LGBTQ and Black History. And a selection of used vinyl LPs and 12-inch singles can yield finds by Missy Elliot and Cher. Sorting through it all can easily turn into an all-day event.

Most books at Diamond Sutra range from about $5 to $15, with leather-bound classics and first editions more expensive. As for the vinyl, you’ll have to check with the cashier, as many of them aren’t priced.

And if you can’t make it out to Diamond Sutra’s physical location, you can check out its online offerings on eBay (ebay.to/3O15F5B).

Avantpop Books (900 Karen Ave. #D102), which launched earlier this month at New Orleans Square in the Historic Commercial Center District, is highly curated, focusing on genres like art/photography, sci-fi/fantasy, womxn studies, queer, oddities, magic/sorcery/voodoo, horror, poetry and a few others.

Because most of the books on Avantpop’s shelves are older, they’ve been cleaned, and plastic dust jackets have been placed on all the hard covers. For the most part, titles are reasonably priced—mostly under $10, with some higher-priced first editions.

Avantpop doubles as a publishing house, collaborating with artists and writers to bring independent works to the community. So far, it has issued poetry book F*d-Up Poetry for F*-Up People in F*d-Up Times and the zine Stoned History, both by local author (and Avantpop co-owner Shwa Laytart). There are also two coloring books available, one each by local artist Michael Maysonet (aka StonerDude) and Southern California-based artist Dakota Noots.

Avantpop’s walls are adorned with art for sale—several pieces by StonerDude and a few by local artist BluuMangoo, who has also created a 12-month wall calendar. Customers will also find T-shirts and other items for sale around the shop. And on the way out, customers can pick up free bookplates and stickers. Neil Gaiman would likely approve.

Las Vegas Books 4790 S. Eastern Ave., 702-758-5685, facebook.com/lasvegasbooks. Monday-Saturday, 10 am-10 pm

Diamond Sutra Books 107 E.Charleston Blvd. #105, 725-221-0935, Wednesday-Sunday, 11 am-7 pm

Avantpop Books 900 Karen Ave. #D102, beforepopbooks.com. Wednesday-Sunday, 11 am-7 pm

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