Duttenhofer’s Books is Selling Pieces of History

Written by Chris Pasion, graduate assistant to The Graduate School.

The storefront at Duttenhofer's.

We are lucky in Clifton to have a locally owned used bookstore that has served our community since 1976: Duttenhofer’s Books. Walk into their shop and be greeted with that wonderful used book smell (you know the one) that permeates every aisle of the store. Not only does the store smell great, it also has one of the best selections of used books you’ll find in the area. A really good book has the ability to leave its mark on us forever; whether it’s because the book tells a compelling story, because of its significance to its field or discipline, or because it leaves us with bits of wisdom that are still worth reflecting on years later, books are incredibly powerful vessels for thought and entertainment. Duttenhofer’s keeps their shelves stacked with a diverse selection of titles to please any type of reader.

When you buy from a used bookstore like Duttenhofer’s, you can often find markings and artifacts from the book’s previous owners, which is part of the fun. You may find that a book has helpful notes written in the margins, interesting items used as bookmarks, or signatures that date back centuries. This is nothing like shopping at a Barnes and Noble; here you have the potential to walk away with a piece of history. Duttenhofer’s sells books that date back all the way to the 1600s and earlier, and you can also expect to find familiar titles. Kim Steinsiek, the owner of Duttenhofer’s, says, “What I most like to sell and what people can be most happy to find are just really good copies of their favorite books. Perennial favorites like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye, things like that.”

Two book aisles in Duttenhofer's, which is stocked with shelves.

Duttenhofer’s connection to UC is deeper than simply being in close proximity to campus; the original owner, Stan Duttenhofer, was a retired professor who opened up the store. Kim attributes UC students and faculty as being some of the store’s most valued, loyal customers, saying, “the people that we really count on as our customers and who value us the most are happily many of the colleges at UC. CCM, DAAP, history, philosophy, English literature – we try to keep our shelves stocked with the best quality classic titles in all those categories.” As you peruse the aisles, you’ll find that the shelves are stocked full of titles that run the gamut of genres and crafts, from literary fiction and drama to Native American history, poetry, philosophy, design, architecture, and more. Kim describes books as “remarkably efficient and effective cultural containers that can be handed off from owner to owner and still keep giving.” As a used bookstore, that exchange is exactly what Duttenhofer’s has been facilitating since they opened. 

Running a small used bookstore nowadays is not without its challenges; our world is far less bookish than it was even a decade ago, with technological advancements such as the e-reader and smart phone changing the way we read. Despite these changes, readers who are passionate about their paperbacks will continue to value the printed word. “Books have served us well for 600 years,” Kim says. “Even if not another book was printed, it makes the ones that were made well enough to last that much more important.” 

Check Duttenhofer’s website to learn more about the store, search their inventory and make purchases, and find their hours. If you visit the storefront at 214 W McMillan, don’t forget to bring your mask!