7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things

7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things

I love visiting independent bookstores. I’m a regular at my local store, and visit new ones every opportunity I get. One of the (many) reasons I was so excited about heading out on the road for Don’t Overthink It is I’d get to experience so many old favorites and new-to-me shops. Something I learned on past book tours is that every store has its own personality, and it’s a joy to meet the people who run the stores I love, and see just how many glorious incarnations of bookstores are out there.

Of course, as I’m writing these words in the coronavirus era, I’m not walking through the doors of my local bookstore right now, though they’re delivering to my doorstep on a regular basis. And I’m not able to experience those bookstore I’d planned to visit on book tour—so I’ll have to wait a little longer to meet Interabang, and Read It Again, and Anderson’s, and all the others I’ve longed to visit.

7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things | Modern Mrs Darcy

But these strange times won’t last forever, and in the meantime, independent bookstores across the country are tenaciously and creatively bringing bookish delight to readers everywhere. They’ve taken their events and inventory online to provide patrons with books, puzzles, and entertainment during this stressful time. They’re bringing you books through curbside pickup, local delivery, and the postal service. They’re still shipping out their curated book subscriptions. They’re posting to their social media channels, and partnering with Libro.fm to bring you audiobooks.

Since we can’t visit the bookstores right now, I’m bringing the bookstores to you.

I can’t wait for the day when I can browse these shops again in person, but for now, here are five ways we can support their businesses—because like so many small businesses, bookstores are hurting right now. Consider this whole-hearted encouragement to treat yourself to a book (or two?) in the name of sustaining the shop around the corner:

  • Shop online: order a book from your local bookstore, or one of the amazing indies listed below. Select curbside pick-up if you’re in the neighborhood, or get your books shipped to you. If you need recommendations, just give them a call or email.
  • Pre-order books: order a book that’s coming out later this year. This helps bookstores AND authors!
  • Sign up for Libro.fm: this is the audiobook company that supports independent bookstores. (Use the code ANNE3 to get three books for the price of one with your new subscription.)
  • Purchase a gift card: if your own shelves are full, send bookish delight to a friend or family member.
  • Follow them on social media: this is a free and easy way to promote small businesses. Like, share, and post about your favorite independent bookstores.

7 favorite independent bookstores

These are all stores I’ve had the pleasure of visiting in person. I’ve been visiting some for years; others I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting in the past month. (Hi, R.J. Julia!)

Please note: all the information about shipping and delivery options is current at the time of posting, but as you know, is subject to change.

7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things | Modern Mrs Darcy

1. novel. in Memphis, TN

This huge nonprofit bookstore is the direct result of community effort: when Memphis lost its last indie in early 2017, the community, knowing how important it was for their city to have a bookstore, rallied—and novel is the result. I loved visiting this spacious and well-stocked store when I was in Memphis in early 2019.

7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things | Modern Mrs Darcy

2. R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT

I connected with R.J. Julia and its owner, Roxanne Coady, through Roxanne’s wonderful podcast Just the Right Book, and have been eagerly anticipating a visit for years. About a month ago, I got to visit the Madison store on my very first book tour stop for Don’t Overthink It. I was so impressed with the beautiful layout, abundant selection, and exceptional staff, and can’t wait for a return visit. My only regret is that I didn’t take more pictures—especially of their charming storefront!

7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things | Modern Mrs Darcy

3. Magic City Books in Tulsa, OK

This nonprofit bookstore is doing amazing things in an amazing community; it’s not lost on me that so many of my favorite stores are nonprofits. I so enjoyed my visit to Magic City for Independent Bookstore Day last year. The store is in a beautiful space in the Arts District, packed with an interesting selection, and run primarily by devoted volunteers who believe in what they do, and are great at it. I can’t wait to get back.

7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things | Modern Mrs Darcy

4. The Novel Neighbor in St. Louis, MO

I had the pleasure of connecting with owner Holland Saltsman when she first began scheming and dreaming about this space, and it’s been an absolute joy to see her dream come to life. This unique space in Websters Grove is packed with great books (of course) but also unique arts and gifts that are fun to browse (and even more fun to take home with you!). The children’s section is fabulous; I’ve brought home stacks of books for my kids from the Novel Neighbor.

If you haven’t heard the What Should I Read Next episodes with Holland, you must! Check out Episode 40: Spouses of Readers Anonymous and Episode 210: Book gifts are the best gifts.

7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things | Modern Mrs Darcy

5. Browsers Bookshop in Olympia, WA

I first connected with owner Andrea Griffith through What Should I Read Next, where she joined me for Episode 28: Books that no one’s writing about in Entertainment Weekly. At the time, Andrea was a former medical librarian who’d only recently found her dream job when she called up the owner of an ailing used bookstore and said, Can I buy it?—and the owner said yes!

I’ve so enjoyed watching Andrea blossom in her new role, and watching as the store has grown and changed under her leadership. Browsers is now a beautiful space in downtown Olympia, and home to an extensive collection of both new and used books. I’m dreaming of a return trip, and when I do make it back to Olympia, I hope the timing is right for me to attend one of their Cookbook Club book events, where every attendee brings a recipe they prepared from the featured cookbook.

7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things | Modern Mrs Darcy

6. The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA

Like so many readers, I love following owner Annie B. Jones on Instagram, and was overjoyed when I got to visit the store in person a couple of years ago for a live podcast event. Yes, readers, The Bookshelf really is every bit as beautiful as it looks on Instagram.

Funny thing: a friend just sent me a bookish gift she ordered from The Bookshelf and I can personally vouch for the experience. I loved the books she picked out for me but the beautiful wrapping and packaging really took it to the next level.

7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things | Modern Mrs Darcy

7. Bookmarks NC in Winston-Salem, NC

I adore this store, and its incredible staff and mission. This literary nonprofit is doing great things in its community, bringing authors to schools, packing the school libraries with new books, and putting on a fantastic literary festival each year. I so enjoyed my most recent event at Bookmarks NC with author Charlie Lovett; we recorded it for the podcast and you can listen in right here, in Episode 208: The underappreciated art of literary forgery.

There are SO many other amazing independent bookstores doing good work right now. I could go on for days, but I’ll turn it over to you. Readers, please shout out your favorite indie bookstore in the comments.

P.S. My own indie, Carmichael’s Bookstore, is shipping out copies of my own books: if you’d like a copy of Don’t Overthink It order that right here.

P.P.S. In this post, I was careful not to repeat bookstores I’ve sung the praises of in a similar post before! Please check out 6 more of my favorite independent bookstores, and another 3 indies I love, plus 20 wonderful books about books and bookstores.

7 favorite independent bookstores that are doing great things | Modern Mrs Darcy

98 comments | Comment

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  1. Susan says:

    Anderson’s Bookstore in Naperville/Downers Grove/La Grange IL. They do fabulous author events daily, have great shelf tag recommendations and a good selection plus a sister toy store. During these pandemic days, they are offering 99 cent shipping on books and curbside delivery on books, toys, games and puzzles if you call. Their puzzles aren’t online but if you tell them what you are looking for, they’ll send you some photos of their options.

    • Donna Simon says:

      I agree with Susan. Anderson’s is a fabulous independent bookstore in Naperville. Staff is very knowledgable and helpful as well!

      • Anne says:

        I’ve heard wonderful things about Anderson’s. I thought I was going to get to visit for the first time next week, but that’s all changed now (sniff).

    • Anne says:

      I’ve heard wonderful things about Anderson’s! I had an event planned with them next week but now it’s been postponed. I hope we can reschedule it for the near(ish) future.

  2. Lucy W says:

    Powell’s Books in Portland! More than a bookstore it’s an icon of the city, and reflects the best parts of Portland culture.

  3. Jean Mueller says:

    Story and Song in Fernandina Beach, Florida. It is a wonderful shop with events for all ages, delicious food, and of course, great books. As with many of the best bookstores, the owners are big supporters of the community.

  4. Kasey says:

    The Bookshelf in Madeira, OH (outside of Cincinnati)!! They are taking orders by phone, email and online for no contact pickup outside the store, free delivery to area retirement, assisted living and long term care communities and free shipping on any order over $35. They have a great children’s selection as well as puzzles and journals. Super helpful staff and they make great recommendations. http://www.cincybookshelf.com
    On Instagram @cincybookshelf

  5. Lynne Brooks says:

    Prairie Path Books in Wheaton, IL is absolutely charming. They always offer you personal recommendations from their staff…even the owner’s college daughter offers personal recommendations for the 0-18 crowd. You can order via phone call, text, email & books are shipped directly to your door. Super creative, ultra-friendly, very knowledgeable staff. You’ll love them!

  6. Alison says:

    My favorite is Sundog Books in Seaside, FL. Somehow their book buyer and my tastes really jive so I always find so many selections there I like! We had a trip planned to Seaside for later in May. Not looking good for that though.

  7. Jennifer Geisler says:

    So thrilled to see RJ Julia on the list, because it is, hands down, one of MY favorite bookstores. And the event of the year is a panel discussion at the Mandell JCC, including publishers and the author Matthew Dicks, led by Roxanne Cody each Fall. For 90 minutes, they take turns sharing titles and a brief summary of books they recommend. Then, they release the audience to a room where you can purchase those books!

    • Whit says:

      Kings English in Salt Lake City, UT! They are taking orders online snd doing virtual storytime on Instagram and Facebook.

      Kingsenglish.com

    • Tina says:

      Interabang in Dallas, TX and Monkey & Dog Books in Fort Worth, TX are both amazing. We’re on lockdown here so they’re both closed (I know Interabang is), but you can buy online or support through librofm.

  8. Sonya Leonard says:

    Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC is doing free county wide personal delivery, with the purchase of two books!!! Such a great bookstore and a vital part of the Asheville community.

  9. Sara says:

    Books are Magic in Brooklyn is shipping books and has a special t-shirt design where the proceeds goes to supporting Indie Booksellers

    Also Atomic Books in Baltimore is doing curbside pickup and minimal contact delivery within 2 miles.

  10. Janet says:

    Powell’s in Portland is currently closed, but offering free shipping on $25 orders. My cart is filling up!

    Keep reading (and wash your hands)! 🙂

  11. Nancy Agneberg says:

    Arcadia Books in Spring Green, WI; Birchbark Books owned by Louise Erdrich in Minneapolis, and Next Chapter in St Paul–each is wonderful in its own way.

    • Stacie Kenney says:

      I love Boswell Books on the east side of Milwaukee. They have been a staple in that area for a long time. I recently ordered Code Name Helene from Boswell’s after the zoom meeting with Ariel. I also really love Better World Books, and indie, but online only shop. I believe in their literacy mission.

  12. Great post, Anne! And so important to praise and “shine a light” on the absolutely life-changing independent bookstores in our communities… Between bookstores & libraries, our lives are forever enriched and transformed…

    • Stacy says:

      I’m a Boswell shopper. Stopping there and buying a bag full of books was an absolute must before the quarantine began.

      • Anne says:

        I was going to get to visit Boswell, and Milwaukee, for the first time next week, but now that’s all changed. I’m very much looking forward to visiting one day.

  13. Teresa says:

    Sundog Books in Seaside, Florida is a must to visit! It wouldn’t be a real trip to the beach without a stop (or two or three) to purchase beach reads at Sundog.

    • Traci says:

      Leanne – my daughter just moved to a condo 2 blocks south of the Colfax Tattered Cover location – I can’t wait to visit her and make a trip to one of my favorite local independent bookstores!

  14. Thanks so much for the Memphis & Tulsa shops, Anne! We were supposed to be on a road trip through Tulsa, LR, Memphis, Oxford, & back through the Ozarks. Pretty bummed about that, of course. But I will be hitting Novel & Magic City Books (as well as Square Books, of course) NEXT spring break, I hope! Another on my list–I’D LOVE TO HEAR IF ANYONE KNOWS THIS SPOT–is the Berryville, AR, It’s a Mystery Bookstore. Anyone? Thanks!

  15. Shannon C says:

    Third Street Books in McMinnville, OR! Wonderful little bookstore in the historic downtown area. They’re offering curbside service, free porch delivery in Yamhill County, and regular mail delivery. Order by phone or e-mail.

  16. Brittany M says:

    I love Little Professor in downtown Homewood, AL (just minutes from downtown Birmingham,AL). They have great specials like 20% weekly bestsellers and 20% off for members! I love strolling in on a warm, sunny day! They have an awesome kids section too!

  17. Angela in NC says:

    Bookmarks is also having a lot of online events via Zoom including book clubs and its Spring Book Club Social.

  18. Rainy Day Books in Fairway, KS (Kansas City). They do so many wonderful author events each year. Right now they’re doing free Priority shipping on orders over $75 and $5 Priority shipping for orders under that amount. I just ordered Don’t Overthink It and one other book from them. They’re a true gem in KC.

    • Anne says:

      I just got to visit Rainy Day about this time last year! Thanks for ordering DOI from them. I hope to return one day; I love your town. 🙂

  19. Anne, My favorite independent book store is The Bookmark in Neptune Beach, Florida. Our vacation condo is in Ponte Vedra Beach, between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, and whenever we are there we always visit the nearby Bookmark. We especially love attending the talks by authors and hope that someday you will appear there when we are in the area!

  20. Jessica says:

    Our local bookstore was offering free local deliveries until last week, when our state issued a stay-at-home order. They are still offering $1 delivery when you order from their site. They also are doing book club subscriptions for a variety of genres.
    https://www.ravenbookstore.com/

  21. Stacey Mecca says:

    Hello,
    I was so excited to see this article! We LOVE independent bookstores too! We have a new-ish gem in our little town of Georgetown, Texas, and it is Lark & Owl Booksellers. It was created by a wonderful group of creative women, and has so many offerings beyond just great books and story times. Their cool and unique gifts are beyond! I have attended two great author events with Delia Owens for Where the Crawdads Sing and with Lara Prescott for The Secrets We Kept. They have a fabulous bar and cafe, plus movie nights in the garden and local flea on the weekends. The kids even trick-or-treated there as part of the downtown square trunk-or-treat. Couldn’t be happier to have them as our own little bookstore.

  22. Shauna says:

    I love my neighborhood bookstore, Changing Hands, which has two locations in the Phoenix area. They are currently doing book care packages.

  23. Barbara Gose says:

    We travel to Austin, Texas every winter and never miss trips to Bookpeople, the fabulous indie store on 6th St. The golden retriever has to share room with bags of books as we head home to Wyoming.

  24. Kristin says:

    Literati in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Shuler Books in Grand Rapids and Okemos, Michigan! Both are closed to the public and no longer doing curbside pickup, but they are shipping! 🙂

  25. susie says:

    I love all the clever and interesting NAMES for bookstores….In Bangor, Maine, owner Marc Berlin named his shop BookMarcs, for a variation. And I like The Book Burrow, in Kennebunk, Maine.

  26. Barb B in BC says:

    Munro Books in Victoria BC Canada! One of the great local bookshops (well not local for me but I have books mailed to me and visit whenever I am on the island). The staff are so book smart and friendly. They will give you wonderful suggestions if you are looking for anything. The shop is in a historic building, a Royal Bank of Canada 1909, which makes the ambience even sweeter.
    http://www.munrobooks.com
    Please support your local bookshop!

  27. Traci says:

    My closest independent bookstore is about 45 min away – Ouray Bookshop in Ouray, CO. It’s charming, welcoming, and has a great selection of books and gifts, as well as a complimentary coffee and treat station! I’m looking forward to being able to visit in person again, but in the meantime I’ve ordered a couple of books to be delivered for free and signed up for a libro.fm membership through them.

  28. Sarah Clark says:

    The Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, KS is offering free shipping within Lawrence and $1 shipping anywhere else in the US. They also set up a Book Benefactors https://www.bookbenefactors.com/ where you can nominate someone that could use some books right now, or you can donate towards someone receiving books.

    Twice Told Tales in McPherson, KS is giving bookstore tours on IG Stories and then you can order books through DMs or over the phone. The tours make me so happy right now!

  29. Robyn says:

    Warwick’s in La Jolla, CA is a gem. It is the country’s oldest continually family-owned bookstore. Also, Vroman’s in Pasadena, CA is worth every minute of LA traffic to get there. They’ve just opened a wine bar in the store.

  30. Terry R. says:

    Brilliant Books in Traverse City, Michigan. I have 2 book subscriptions with them and they have chosen the most wonderful books for me based on my interests. I’ve never been unhappy with ANY selection they’ve made for me. They are closed but shipping, please consider them!

    • Anne says:

      I’m so glad I got to pop into E. Shaver when I was in Savannah a few years ago! I can’t wait to visit Fabled. (I was supposed to get to visit for the first time last week 😢)

  31. Jess says:

    Aw, I love Browsers and I am so excited to see them on your list. They have done a porch delivery for me since we have been quarantined!

  32. Susan Scott says:

    Murder by the Book in Houston is great for mysteries – obviously, but they have gifts and other types of books,and will order most other books for you.
    Otherwise I second all the other great Tx independent booksellers.

  33. Kaitlin says:

    Shout out to Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers – a new indie in downtown Auburn, Alabama! They are doing curbside pickup and shipping through Bookshop. I am so happy to have a local indie now 🙂

  34. Kara says:

    The Bookshop in Doylestown PA has friendly staff and a great selection. During this crisis, they have found a way to get books to anyone who needs/wants them with online ordering, and shipping is super fast.

  35. Mary Hunt says:

    This is an excellent post! I just discovered a new indie in Nashville TN, called The Book Shop Nashville. It is adorable and is connected to the coffee shop next door via a short hall.
    My grandson and I call ourselves the CrossCountry Page Turners. We visit as many indie bookstores as we can whenever we travel. We have been to Novel. in Memphis and Square Books in Oxford MS to name a few.
    This post has just added to our list! Thanks so much!

  36. Kara Middleton says:

    I am so surprised, yet thrilled, that Novel in Memphis was your number 1 pick! We never win anything and only rarely receive recognition. I joined Libro.fm last week, just so I could support Novel Memphis. I rarely visit, as I hardly ever buy physical books anymore, but with the virus and everything that’s going on with small businesses, I was determined to do something to help. I got Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe and Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton.

  37. Jessica says:

    Yay! I love the Anderson’s shout out! I was so excited to finally meet you there… until next time I guess! 🙂

  38. I’ve been following Annie Jones for years and just ordered my first book from The Bookshelf, I was so delighted when it arrived! I do almost all my reading from the library but I could get used to this buying books things!

  39. Stacey Thomas says:

    Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont is my absolute favorite Indie Bookstore. It is huge with wonderful treasures around every corner. Fabulous children’s section with books and gifts. A huge gift section. A to die for used book section. More books than it is possible to see in one trip with staff recommendations marked on the shelves. A great cafe. All kinds of special events (many of which are now available online!) And, they are offering curbside pickup and free shipping.
    Let’s just put it this way. I live in Virginia. I had friends who lived in Vermont and every time we visited, Northshire was on the itinerary. Now that they have moved, I am planning a trip to the northeast and Northshire is one of the main reasons 😃

  40. Shelby says:

    So happy to see The Bookshelf on this list! I needed birthday gifts this week for some special kids in my life, and wanted to support small business if at all possible. Olivia at The Bookshelf chatted with me about the kids’ ages and interests, helped me make selections over the phone, and then they wrapped it beautifully and brought it right to my car!

  41. Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia is literally driving books to your door if you live in one of 5 or so zip codes right around their shop. The staffer on the phone said he likes to think it’s the best kind of ding dong ditch! (Because they ring the bell but then just leave the bag.) They also have online shopping as well as curbside pickup for locals. And the municipality is offering 30 minutes of free parking for folks doing curbside pickup from any of the local businesses.

  42. Kaitlin says:

    Hartfield Books in Monticello, IL, is an adorable little nook nestled right in the town square.
    But my all-time favorite indie bookstore is Novel Bay Booksellers in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. They’ve recently expanded their children’s section, and I can’t wait to get the chance to visit again!

  43. Jenny says:

    Interabang Books in Dallas, TX… they are doing free shipping these days… and book recommendations via Twitter on Fridays at 1:00 p.m. Central time.

  44. Ariel says:

    I made a project for myself to order half a dozen new books, each from a different independent bookstore (I ended up with 7 books, actually, since adding one more got me free shipping from one of the stores!) Some of them I’ve been to, often multiple times: Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Octavia Books in New Orleans, A Room of One’s Own and Boswell Books near me in Wisconsin. My other two were Powell’s, which is very important, and Tattered Cover in Denver, at a friend’s recommendation. It’s very exciting to have my books rolling in, and waiting for the shipments gives me something to look forward to!

  45. Sue Duronio says:

    Hi Anne,
    I just recently discovered your podcast and this blog, and can’t believe it’s taken me this long! I’ve been a reading FANATIC all my life and can’t function unless I’m engrossed in a good book! Do you know of Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT? It’s such a great bookstore. And, in my town: Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC. My community cherishes this shop, it’s truly incredible! Come visit us! My bookclub of 15 years would SO enjoy a visit and discussion with you (when this is all over!) Be well!

  46. Jeanette says:

    Literati in Ann Arbor, MI is hands down my favorite bookstore. Their “public typewriter” is a special gem, as well.

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