In 1959, Morris (Moe) Moskowitz and his wife, Barbara, opened a small paperback bookshop on Shattuck Avenue. They soon moved to Telegraph Avenue where Moe’s Books evolved into a renowned emporium featuring hundreds of thousands of books. Moe’s Books was a pioneer in giving honest, fair prices by establishing a fair trade policy of offering cash or a higher value in “Moe Dollars” (“In God and Moe We Trust”) for used books. These innovative trade slips—membership cards to a literary world— give previously read books respect and value. Defying Berkeley’s no-smoking ordinance, the iconoclastic, politically leftist Moskowitz enjoyed his cigars at work, typifying Telegraph Avenue’s anti-authoritarian identity. Since his death in 1997 the bookstore has remained a family-run business, continuing its legendary founder’s traditions.
Berkeley Historical Plaque Project