Fine Arts and Fest

Mac's Backs Books on Coventry

Image courtesy of
Matt MacDonald
Located at 1820 Coventry Rd. and sharing a door with Tommy's restaurant (a popular restaurant that is heavy on vegetarian fare), Mac's Backs-Books on Coventry is an independent bookseller located in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it portion of Coventry Village in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Much like the Book Loft of German Village in Columbus, Ohio, Mac's Backs is in the business of one thing and one thing only: selling books. They have an enormous selection of books and they also serve as a location for readings, book signings and other literature-centered events.

If there is one downside to visiting Mac’s Backs it lies in the fact that it is incredibly easy to disregard how friggin’ big this place really is!

When you walk in the front door all you can see are the books on the first floor. It may take you a while to realize that the staircase next to the magazine rack is indeed for customers to take upstairs to the second floor where all of their science fiction stock can be found. (The really nice thing about the second floor is the fact that it serves as the perfect eagle’s nest to people watch or eavesdrop on conversations that are drifting in from Tommy’s next door). Added bonus: table and chairs are upstairs for your perusing pleasure. Should you, in fact, make it to the back of the first floor, it might not be that obvious to follow the trail of poetry books in the back hall way down into the basement where all of the non-fiction stock lives.

The history of Mac's Backs is perhaps one of the more overlooked aspects of Cleveland Heights history.

Originally opened by Jim McSherry in 1978, Mac's Backs became a popular book exchange and needed to expand to a second location. The first incarnation of the Cleveland Heights Mac's Backs, managed by Suzanne DeGaetano, was opened in 1982. It occupied two rooms above the original Dobama Theater.

“How is this overlooked?” you ask? I am confident it is because no one who has shopped Mac’s within the last 10 years has realized that it was, indeed, a second location. (I didn’t even know that until I started to gather research for this write-up!).

Through tremendous growth spurts, and a rousing game of real estate hop scotch, the present location at 1820 Coventry Rd. has since become a pillar of the community as the only known book exchange (point of fact: a large portion of their stock is previously read books that people have brought in for store credits) and by providing a free community meeting space for groups and organizations.

Should you find yourself in the Cleveland Heights area, Mac’s Backs-Books on Coventry is well worth the visit.

Mac’s Backs-Books on Coventry
1820 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118
(216) 321-2665
Mon-Thurs: 10am to 9pm
Fri-Sat: 10am to 10pm
Sun: 11am to 8pm