Reed Books in Birmingham

There's no typo in the title. That's Reed (not Read), as in Jim Reed, proprietor of Reed Books - The Museum of Fond Memories in Birmingham, Alabama.

I visited that fine, historic Southern city last week for the inaugural IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama (actually down the road in Leeds) and stayed downtown, where I found a jewel of a book shop to browse for an hour or so. I could have stayed all weekend in that shop.

I managed to find a few books on regional history, something I like to look for in new locales, and my wife found a few Civil War pamphlets of interest. As Jim Reed checked us out, I got the bookmark above and asked for any other ephemeral items related to his business and told him I blogged about such things. That was all he had, but he handed me a handful more of the bookmarks and said, "Spread the word!" And so I am.

If you find yourself in Birmingham, or passing through, and have a little time to spare, a visit to Reed Books would be worth your while if you like browsing old book shops and the serendipity of finding hidden treasures.

The book shop is located at 2021 Third Avenue North in downtown Birmingham, in the building with the name Lehr Middlebrooks and Vreeland (see photo below). The place has some book history to it, as it used to be an old U.S. government bookstore. Reed Books is undoubtedly much more fun to poke around in than the previous shop run by Uncle Sam.

For lovers of rare books and Americana, as well as collectors of ephemera and memorabilia of all stripes, Jim Reed's collection of more than 45,000 items will certainly draw you in and hold you spellbound for a while. You may find it difficult to leave!

Additionally, he has somewhere in the vicinity of a quarter million more items warehoused in storage. If you don't find what you're looking for or have specific interests, be sure and let Jim know about it. Likely as not, he can put his hands on it for you.

I knew I'd have no trouble finding something of interest, but I told Jim of my specific interests and he went to work for me finding or suggesting books for my consideration while I continued browsing.

In a city known more for its historic role in the Civil Rights Movement, we left Birmingham with fond memories of activities that probably wouldn't register very high, if at all, on a Birmingham word association test: Antiquarian Book Shop and IndyCar Race (Nascar perhaps, but not IndyCar). The two complemented each other just fine as far as I was concerned and we left with fond memories of both and much more in this friendly, historic city.

Track side with the AJ Foyt Racing team,
Vitor Meira in for a pit stop during warm-up laps.


  1. Mr. Reed's shop looks like crazy fun, the kind of shop I get nostalgic about, thinking that they have all disappeared. Thanks for sharing this and reminding me that such places still exist.

  2. It's exactly as you imagine. You can't enjoy that kind of experience online. Reed Books is testimony to the fact that these kinds of open shops serve a useful purpose in the community and can thrive alongside, and in spite of, the big chain bookstores and the Internet.


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