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By Thomas J. Sullivan–
Like the boomerang their store is aptly named for, Boomerang Books in Citrus Heights has kept softcover book lovers coming back for more ever since opening in 1994.
Husband and wife, Takeshi and Patricia Asano, are owners of Boomerang Books, a small, independent bookstore at 6925 Greenback Ln. Their personal story is as unique as their business.
Boomerang Books exclusively buys and sells paperback books for either trade or credit exchange. The choice of their business name reflects their philosophy of reciprocity, encouraging their customers to share and trade soft covers they are finished with.
The inside look and feel of the bookstore is especially quiet and inviting. There’s a collection of wooden boomerangs above the front sales counter, collected by Patricia’s daughter who lives in San Diego. Customers will also see an extensive cat figurine collection on shelves behind the counter, gifts from many customers through the years.
Patricia was born in Lancashire, outside of Manchester, England. She married a U.S. Air Force pilot assigned to the Strategic Air Command, whom she followed to duty stations around the world before her divorce. His final command was at the former Mather Air Force Base in Rancho Cordova, which led her to settle in the Citrus Heights area.
Patricia met Takeshi while he was attending the Winterstein Adult Center in Sacramento, where he was taking an English as a Second Language class, and she was an adult tutor in his class.
“I found him fascinating,” she remembers. Their in-class friendship soon blossomed into a romance and they married in 1989, two years after Takeshi had emigrated to the United States from Japan.
“I wanted to visit the United States and see the world,” Takeshi said, reflecting on his reason for coming to the U.S. “I had a friend who was attending Sacramento State, so I came here.”
For a time after his arrival, Takeshi worked for G.T. Sakai and Co., a prominent Japanese grocery retailer in downtown Sacramento.
The original bookstore, which was known as J. Crawford Books, was previously owned by Jim and Joyce Crawford, and located in a strip mall near the corner of Greenback Lane and Dewey Drive, where Walgreen’s is currently located. When the mall was demolished, they found a new location at 6925 Greenback Ln., just several blocks away.
Patricia said she used to work for the former bookstore part-time for many years.
“The opportunity came to buy the bookstore and they offered us a good price for their business,” she said. “We thought we might as well try to make a go of it. We’ve been here ever since.”
The couple’s purchase of the business also coincided with the widening of Greenback Lane in the late 90s. Walk-in customer traffic is regular, and many who have heard about the bookstore stop by for a look.
The husband and wife duo live nearby and take turns working at the store each day, often allowing the other to go home for lunch.
The percentage of Japanese-language titles is but a small percentage of Boomerang Books overall softcover inventory.
“We’re an important resource for the Japanese-American community in Northern California who come from throughout the region to visit us,” Takeshi said. The store features an extensive selection of popular Japanese manga and anime titles in English and Japanese.
“Today, many Americans, especially young people, are buying books in the Japanese language,” he said. “Manga is especially popular.”
Takeshi said it’s often very expensive to buy Japanese language books new in the United States. In addition to Takeshi’s own personal collection, which he contributed to the bookstore’s inventory when the store opened, Boomerang Books has almost 1,000 Japanese language title soft covers available for sale.
“Our customers come from San Francisco and San Jose to shop here. There is also a substantial Japanese-American population in Sacramento who shop here regularly.”
Customers are encouraged to browse their well-organized collection of softcover fiction and non-fiction titles. Many are sold in cassette and CD audio formats for those wanting to enjoy a book on the go.
The bookstore also features an extensive inventory of historical romance, cookbooks, contemporary fiction and non-fiction titles in softcover. Boomerang’s collection of classic horror is also quite thorough.
Patricia’s favorite titles in inventory are contemporary British crime fiction and mysteries. She’ll be happy to recommend a title to anyone who asks.
Boomerang Books has received an average rating of 4.5-out-of-5-stars from Yelp reviewers who describe their store as one of the “most well-organized used bookstores they’ve visited,” and as “the kind of place they wish they could see themselves working in.”
“We’ve been in business so long that it’s more a labor of love, than a business to us,” Patricia said. “We’re honored by what customers have said about us.”
Boomerang Books at 6925 Greenback Lane is open Monday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Tuesday and Wednesday. The bookstore is also open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (916) 722-6133 for more information.
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