A long gone, but once familiar nationwide business has reappeared in Encinitas.
Back in the 1980s, a lanky Robert Haft went on TV with the his three-piece suit and heavy New Jersey accent, to tell America, “Books cost too much. That's why I opened Crown Books. Now you'll never pay full price again!"
Closing in on the heels of Barnes and Noble, and Borders, by 1994, Crown Books became the third largest bookstore chain in the U.S. Most Crown Books carried up to 80,000 titles, all at discounted prices.
The growing company soon imploded with an inter-family divorce and investor lawsuits. By 2001, through a series of bankruptcies and attempts to re-launch the chain, Crown Books was liquidated — gone from the American landscape.
Recently, Rancho Peñasquitos resident Andy Wiess acquired the rights to use the Crown Books name, from an East Coast bookstore chain that purchased the trademark from the bankruptcy courts for pennies on the dollar.
260 N. El Camino Real, Suite G, Encinitas
On June 22, Wiess opened his fourth Crown Books store. Located in Encinitas in the Vons/Camino Village Plaza shopping center in the 200 block of North El Camino Real, the store uses the old type font and logo.
As Barnes and Noble continues to struggle in a dying book market, the new Crown Books doesn’t offer fancy shelves, displays, coffee, or even carry most of the latest best sellers. Instead, the plain-Jane stores offer mostly used books, all in good shape. And selling for an average of five to ten dollars.
I found one of each of the last decade’s best selling self-help books by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, including 10 Stupid Things Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives. The chapter titles appeared to be relevant today. An autographed 1984 best seller by Dr. Robert Schuller, Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do, sat wedged in with other titles in the spirituality section.
The store also had racks of large coffee-table picture books on cars, travel, sports and entertainment personalities.
The store advertises they’ll buy and trade books. An employee said they have two wholesalers in L.A. and San Francisco that provide most of their used book inventory.
With now two other San Diego County locations, in Horton Plaza and Chula Vista, and a third in L.A.’s Woodland Hills, the stores have also revived the old Crown Books commercial tag line, “If you paid full price, you didn’t buy it at Crown Books!”