“The Paradox Bookstore is a real paradox in the modern world, a gem for book lovers.”

Paradox Book Store - Wheeling - West Virginia

“No phone, no fax, no email, irregular hours, indifferent service, inexplicable categorization, narrow aisles, murky lighting, breath-taking selection, dumbfounding prices, and NO DAMN CAT!” ~ Tom Stobart, owner


West Virginia’s oldest used bookstore, at a youthful 41, contains an uncatalogued inventory of (most recent estimate) 25,000 books. Established in 1974 by Tom Stobart, local and regional playwright and actor, the store has been in the current location since 1978.

Paperbacks can be purchased for as low as 50 cents, and most hardbacks top out at $3.00.  Perhaps the most popular feature is the store’s porch shelf, which is kept stocked with books that have seen better days, but are still in readable condition and in the right hands, have much value.  The sign bearing the porch bookshelf policy made the Internet rounds in recent years on lists of “photos that restore your faith in humanity.”  Locals make frequent donations of books by the boxload, making the store essentially community-supported.

Even the tech-savvy customer can appreciate this gem, a Luddite’s dream come true (in addition to no phone, fax, email, or official website, there is also obviously no wi-fi), where book lovers take in the smells (old books, anyone?), sights (original tin ceiling and lighting fixtures, built-in nook shelving and freestanding shelves handmade by Tom’s father), sounds (a broad selection of music on vinyl emanating from the record player in the back room), and feel (e-readers are nowhere to be found) of this quirky little shop that continues to defy extinction in the modern world.

~ Heather, Paradox Volunteer.

Address: The Paradox Book Store, 2228 Market Street, Wheeling, WV 26003, USA


Hours: Irregular due to the owner’s health and the “real world job” schedule of the volunteers.

Facebook: TheParadoxBookstore