What’s your favorite independent bookstore?

What’s your favorite independent bookstore?

A reader friend recently quipped that she wished someone would make her a punch card—like one of those frequent shopper cards, you know?—for all the independent bookstores she visits on her travels. She doesn’t really care what the reward is, she just wants the satisfaction of filling it up.

I get it. My own family is always googling local indies when we travel, because we love to hit up new bookstores when we can. Or at least I do, and my family is more or less happy to come along.

(Some favorite stores we’ve visited in the last 12 months: Read It and Eat, Chicago. Church Street Coffee and Books, Birmingham. Sundog Books, Seaside. E. Shaver, Bookseller, Savannah. McNally Jackson Books, Manhattan.)

And even when I’m not on the road, I still stumble across good things related to these stores. On social media, or in newsletters, obviously. But also books and merchandise—when I was browsing for a used copy of a certain title online last week, I was delighted to find a copy for sale by Housing Works Bookstore Café (pictured above), and snatched it right up.

I keep a long list (in my bullet journal, of course) of the independent bookstores I’d like to visit one day, and it’s so satisfying to be able to tick them off the list.

This weekend I’m visiting a favorite indie, the Novel Neighbor in St. Louis, for our What Should I Read Next LIVE event, so I’ve add independents on the brain this week. I have a zillion questions (as always) for its owner, Holland, about the behind-the-scenes from her point of view, and about how I, as a reader, can better support indies.

My list of bookstores to visit is already long, but—much like my burgeoning and impossibly-long TBR—I’m happy to add to it.

Help me build my list? Readers, tell us your favorite indies—and why you love them—in comments. 

P.S. Holland and I discussed our bookstore/travel habits in this episode of What Should I Read Next. And Independent Bookstore Day is coming up soon: mark your calendars for April 29.

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  1. Lori says:

    Like you, I too have a list of bookstores I have visited and want to visit. When I travel, bookstores are the first thing I scout out (even before lodging in most cases). If you come to Colorado, I recommend Tattered Cover in Denver (downtown location is my favorite) and The Boulder Bookstore in Boulder. I’m from Portland, so when missing Powells, I venture to one of these two stores to fill the void.

    • Sarah says:

      Powell’s is amazing. I live 30 minutes from it and come out at least $100 poorer every time I set foot inside. Also my other favorite indie bookstores are The Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, MT, Cannon Beach Books in Cannon Beach, OR and Waucoma Books in Hood River, OR. Though the last three do not have the inventory of Powell’s, they all display their books in such a way that I end up finding treasures every single time!

  2. Jennie says:

    A Room of One’s Own in Madison, WI. The Upstart Crow in San Diego, CA. The Bullshead Bookshop in Chapel Hill, NC.

    • Leira says:

      Yes! I was about to add A Room of One’s Own. I was just in Madison for a month and when I found that store I absolutely fell in love with it.

  3. Kellie Moy says:

    Cornerstone Used Books in Villa Park, IL. So many books, they let you browse as long as you want, and will look up any book! I always come away with treasures.

  4. Karen Allen says:

    Powell’s, of course. Allow a whole day to find all the nooks and crannies. Watch your step!
    Locally (since I may have grown up in Oregon, but now live in Tempe, AZ – the desert!) it would be Changing Hands (which conveniently opens up to a Wildflower Bread Company…) which stocks new and used books.
    The second would be Bookman’s – strictly used books and magazines and record albums.

    • Karen Allen says:

      (There are others, but these are local enough I’d frequent them. Someone can speak to any further north and west in the Phoenix area.)

  5. BVaeth says:

    I love Books, Lines and Thinkers – a tiny bookstore in western Rangeley, Maine (our vacation destination every year). They sell new and used books, as well as art by local artists. The owners have a table of books they recommend with sticky notes on each telling why. They also have a book club open to anyone.

  6. Sarah Katherine says:

    Page & Pallet was my hometown indie growing up and I still think it’s hard to beat! It’s in downtown Fairhope, AL which is such a charming destination in itself. Right on Monile Bay, tons of fun shops and restaurants, it is a haven for artists and writers! (Winston Groom lives here, Fanny Flagg spent lots of time here, etc.) Page & Pallet is small, but well curated with great staff picks, and a local section. They have fun bookish gifts and a coffee shop connected! They also now have a bar in the back for grown up author events! It’s really impressive who all they have come for such a small town. You’d love it!

    • Betsy says:

      I don’t know if it still exists, but Joseph Beth Booksellers was awesome. Lived there in the mid-nineties, so I’m not sure it is still there.

  7. Amy C says:

    Malaprop’ Bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina is one of my favorites. Also Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, also in Asheville, NC – has used books as well as a cafe and wine bar! When I used to live in Seattle, I loved Elliot Bay Bookstore, but it’s been so many years since I’ve been there.

  8. Alicia says:

    Adams Ave Books in San Diego (2 cats live there!)
    The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles
    Green Apple Books in San Francisco

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