Were just trying to get books in peoples hands, says bookstore owner

Tigard's Dollar Book Fair seeks to fill a need
by: Jessie Kirk Randy Eljimal manages Tigard’s Dollar Book Fair, a new bookstore that offers more than 50,000 books for $1 and $2 each. The variety of books at the store depend on the day and often include bestsellers and popular titles.

In the battle between books and digital readers, many a big-box bookstore has fallen casualty.

But as the dust settles, some new businesses are emerging. One of those is the Dollar Book Fair.

One reader's paperback discards is another man's treasure, says Randy Eljimal, manager of the massive Tigard bookstore that sells books for $1 or $2 each.

The store offers deep discounts on thousands of titles for the reader who prefers tradition to technology.

'People come in and say that they can't stand the Kindle or that it gives them a headache,' Eljimal says. 'Or people say that the Kindle is good for traveling, but they want to own books and decorate their bookshelves with books that have meaning to them.'

The Tigard store opened on Aug. 6, becoming the first location outside of California, where owner Jesse Pelayo maintains four more.

Eljimal said he buys bigger-than-refrigerator-size boxes full of new and used books for a fraction of their list prices from about 75 channels, including out-of-business bookstores. The pricing is simple: Hardbacks and trade paperbacks are $2 - everything else is $1, including all the children's books.

'Who can't afford a buck or two?' he says of the high-volume sales formula.

Eljimal claims that the 12,000-square-foot store - with walls adorned with paintings from local artists - contains more than 50,000 books, all organized by subject. There are a number of bestsellers and sought-after titles and a few rare collectibles. Eljimal said he opened up a box last week that had 20 copies from Steig Larson's popular Millennium-trilogy series, all of which quickly flew off the shelves.

The store inhabits an old furniture and mattress store on Pacific Highway in the Canterbury Square Shopping Center. Eljimal says it's the perfect location to reach a number of readers who are looking for a great deal.

'Tigard is a diverse community. We've got lower-income people and middle-income people. We're right next door to King City, where there are a lot of retired people who love to read.'

Eljimal, who loves to read nonfiction, says the books are at a 'heck of a price point' and that helps people be more adventurous in their purchases because they are risking less money if they don't like it.

Next up, Eljimal said his staff is ready to take the store on the road to host book fairs at local schools, donating books or a percentage of the proceeds back to the school. The main goal of the book fairs is to provide reading material for kids who can't typically afford retail prices.

'We're just trying to get books in people's hands,' Eljimal said.

The store is always accepting book donations to sell or recycle, depending on their condition and offers credit toward purchases.

Dollar Book Fair is located at 14385 S.W. Pacific Highway and is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. For more information, visit dollarbookfair.com or call 503-968-2665.