In today's world of big-chain bookstores, Books Inc. remains a contender. As "The west's oldest independent bookseller," the company has stood tall against the book-selling corporate giants using old-fashioned customer service and true book knowledge to keep customers rolling in. At least that's the tactic that Books Inc. in Alameda has taken under the guidance of manager Nick Petrulakis. Petrulakis is a writer himself and has a deep passion for literature. This comes through in the people he hires, who are avid readers themselves. They write regular reviews of the books they carry, allowing customers to get a peek inside the covers before buying. Plus, they're not only knowledgeable but extremely helpful. They're well-versed in authors, titles (both new and old), and can make recommendations, suggestions, or order items that aren't in stock in the store. They've been known to carry on long discussions with customers on best-sellers as well as more obscure titles. For East Bay book lovers, Books Inc. in Alameda is heaven.