Bookstore Review: Wicked Good Books in Salem, Massachusetts

The closing of bookstores is a seriously scary thing that’s actually happening. Luckily, one bookstore in Salem was transformed, as if by magic, from piles of books crushed under each other’s weight in aisles you had to squeeze through to browse (not for the claustrophobic) to a nice, neat, organized book shop with special displays and clear sections, with books in aisles that give you enough space to browse even the bottom shelf without difficulty.

Derby Square Books after they closed
Derby Square Books after they closed

As exciting as it was to see so many books in such a small space, Wicked Good Books is a wicked improvement from Derby Square Books. You can see the walls, for one, which enables the workers to decorate for the holidays and display special books in visible places.

Derby Square Books
Derby Square Books

On nice days, you won’t even make it in right away. You’ll be too interested in the portable metal racks they display right outside the door, enticing you with $1 paperbacks and $5 hardcovers. What an awesome deal! I always scan for Tor, Del Rey, Ace, and Daw Books, the publishers I quickly discovered were dedicated to my favorite genres – science fiction and fantasy.


When I finally make it into the store, I veer directly to the left, where the sci-fi and fantasy books are located. They had metal racks for these but replaced them with beautiful wooden shelves that display the new books on top, which usually consist of the Outsider, GOT, and Harry Potter series (the latter in its new blue covers) as well as other popular books of the genres, and on the bottom are used copies for 50% off, just like books from the previous store had been. Some of the books even have the same orange 50% off price stickers that Derby Square Books used on their inventory. On one of my many visits to the newer store, I found out some of the books had (not surprisingly) come from the store that preceded them. Sadly, I heard a believable rumor that many of the books were in bad condition and had to be thrown out. Moldy books – there’s a horror story for you.


A better image would be any of the colorful literary drawings done on the chalkboard behind the counter. The colors are so vivid, and I found out during my latest visit that it’s because the artist uses pastels as well as chalk. The first image I remember seeing was Alice and the Cheshire cat. The latest, which was in progress when I last was there, being an image of each of the Hogwarts houses! They really keep up with what people are interested in!


Being a Salem book shop, Wicked Good Books naturally has a section dedicated to witchcraft and occultism. And October brings even more Halloween treats with a nice display on the central table, located right as you walk in the door. Unlike its predecessor, the store now has other things you would expect in a fun bookshop, like cards, knick knacks, gifts that you can buy your buddies. They even have soap! So stay clean and read, folks! And if you’re ever in Salem, be sure to give this A+ bookstore a visit!

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