The president chatted with other customers at the independent Politics and Prose while daughters Sasha and Malia occasionally wandered away to browse. Obama bought a stack of books that were already waiting for him on the counter.
Asked to describe his purchases, Obama said first it was a "long list" and then added "books for every age group from 5 to 52."
A list supplied by the White House included the children's book "Harold and the Purple Crayon," two novels by Willa Cather, "Ragtime" by E.L. Doctorow, a book about hiking the Pacific Crest trail, books about sports performance and other novels and works of non-fiction.
The president did not buy a tote bag featuring a caricature of Michelle Obama with the message "First Lady of Fabulous." It was on sale in the store for $12.
Customers cheered Obama as he exited.