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Hobbit Bookstore Moves From Berkeley to El Cerrito

A science fiction and fantasy bookstore that was a Berkeley fixture for 36 years, The Other Change of Hobbit, moved to El Cerrito this week without much fanfare as it shifts its inventory to its new digs in the old El Cerrito City Club building on Kearn

An East Bay institution among science fiction and fantasy fans, The Other Change of Hobbit bookstore, has left its Berkeley roots for the more affordable rents of El Cerrito.

The bookstore began operating quietly this week with limited hours as it continues to install bookcases and move its inventory into the cavernous space in the former El Cerrito City Club building on Kearney Street at Potrero Avenue.

"It's still sort of oozing into existence," proprietor Dave Nee told Patch on Wednesday.

Much of the move occurred on Saturday, and on Monday, the store's Facebook page invited customers to drop by between 4-7 p.m. 

As it continues getting set up, the store plans to be open during those same hours on weekdays and can be available on weekends by appointment, Nee said. The lease officially begins April 1, he said.

He moved the business from Berkeley because he could no longer afford Berkeley rents in the face of dwindling business, he said.

Nee, who has lived in El Cerrito for the past four to five years, said he had been looking for a new space in Berkeley for the past six months to a year. At the same time, he had walked by old City Club space in El Cerrito space several times and saw the "For Rent" sign in the window. So he walked in one day.

The 4,000-square-foot space was too large, so he negotiated a lease for half, he said. Located in the building on either side of him are Cerrito Printing and another bookstore, Hackenberg Booksellers, which deals in rare books.

Nee was still a student at UC Berkeley in 1977 when he and the other two founding partners started the business on Telegraph Avenue. It moved to Shattuck Square in 1993 and then moved again to Adeline Street in South Berkeley in 2010 before closing in February. The other two partners, Tom Whitmore and Debbie Notkin, are no longer with the business. 

"The store grew out his (Whitmore's) and my passion for collecting science fictionbooks," Nee said.

Nee describes why he moved in the attached short video clip.

Chris J March 28, 2013 at 02:39 PM
I am wishing David all the best in his new digs--it's really tough running any kind of bookstore with the seemingly diminished readerships out there from online sources, etc. I work for his 'competition' at Dark Carnival at the Escapist Comics Bookstore and used to be the manager of Comic Relief the bookstore in Berkeley which went belly up in 2011. Bookstore owners have a tough row to hoe these days.

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