A Treasure Trove of Books and Ambiance

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The directions to Lido Village Books read something like one of Long John Silver’s treasure maps. Just over the bridge across the Newport Bay, onto the Balboa Peninsula, head toward Lido Isle, go 50 paces into the heart of the quaint, brick-lined Lido Village, and the booty awaits.

A big part of the riches lay not just in the books themselves, but in the overall experience at Lido Village Books.

Cozy. Intimate. Inviting. Unique.

Four words one can rarely associate with buying books today.  Although we have come to enjoy the conveniences and massive selection of books online or in big corporate owned bookstores, many still cling to the personal experience of buying books from an independent bookstore.

The actual storefront of Lido Village Books would be unassuming were it not for the impressive magazine and newspaper racks that flank the entrance. The racks offer an impressive selection of magazine and newspapers. (If you are having a hard time finding your copy of the Irish Times, look no further.)

One thing you will not find in the store are any huge cardboard cutout merchandising displays.  At Lido Village Books, there are homey rugs, interesting carved wood book ends, live plants, and, of course, books lovingly placed on tables with tableside lamps, or on shelves with small signs indicating the sections.  In addition to fiction and nonfiction, there are dedicated spaces for local authors, gardening, photography, philosophy, current affairs, poetry and more.

An old wine crate is home to “Used Nautical Books 50% off.”

The children’s nook’s miniature table and four chairs with a homey rug underneath, invite budding book lovers to peruse the high quality selections.

Lido Village Books has an interesting story of its own.  Owner Dan Schmenk took some time to answer some questions about his store.


PT:  When did your bookstore open and what is the story behind getting it open – was it a longtime dream of yours? Did you do something different before, or were you always in the book business?

DS:  Just days after 9/11 the bookstore closed.  It had been in Lido Marina Village for almost 30 years.  I had just retired from 30 years of teaching high school English in Irvine and missed shopping at the store which, back then, was called Lido Book Shoppe.  A few months later (2002) I worked something out with the owner of the Village and have been here with my own bookstore ever since.



PT:  How do you survive in a world with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders?


DS:  I have never considered my store to be in competition with the big box stores or with Amazon.  We offer friendly, personal, and knowledgeable service.  Besides offering the usual blend of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books, we also have a good number of nautical books and a magazine stand that includes a good selection of European magazines and newspapers.  I think all of this helps us maintain a strong, local, repeat customer clientele.


PT: Do you have events at the store?
DS:  Our floor space is rather limited but we have had a few terrific, albeit intimate, author signings including recently a really enjoyable one with local author Craig Smith and some of his author friends.  We also help host events at the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation, the Newport Nautical Museum, the Southern California Writers Association, and Alta Coffee.


PT:   About how many customers do you know by name?

DS:  I easily know over 50% of my customers by name.


PT:   If you had a magic wand for your store, what would you use it to do?


DS: On Sundays, with the Farmer’s Market in full swing, the business at Lido Village Books often triples.  Simply put, the foot traffic helps us tremendously.  I’d use the magic wand to give the local Newporters even more reason to come by Lido Marina Village.  Among other stores, we have some really well-respected restaurants here.  The more good tenants we have, the more often Lido Marina Village will become a desired destination.


Lido Village Books is at 3424 Via Oporto # 1 Newport Beach, CA 92663; phone 949-673-2549      





Hed: Dan’s Picks and Customer Favorites



“Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen

“The Help” by Kathryn Stockwyn

“Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese

“Star Island” by Carl Hiaasen

“The Little Bee” by Chris Cleave


NON-FICTION (harcover and paperback)

“Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell

“Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson

“Food Rules” by Michael Pollan

“Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations” by John Wooden with Steve Jamison

“Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert



“Lady Bug Girl at the Beach” by David Somar

“The Very Fairy Princess” by Julie Andrews

“The Lion and the Mouse” by Jerry Pinkney

“How Rocket Learned to Read” by Tad Hills

“Shark vs Train” by Chris Barton



“You Wish” by Mandy Hubbard

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

“Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins

“Theodore Boone” by John Grisham

“Scat” by Carl Hiaasen




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