Bookstores are an oasis of color, coffee, and community. Even though digital e-readers and online literature seem to be taking over the world, there is nothing better than holding a new book in your hands. From slick coffee table books to historical tomes and flighty fiction, bookstores are the place to find an escape without taking a flight. Not only a place to find books, book shops are also a valuable gathering space for the community to come together and enjoy meeting authors, booking signings, poetry readings, literary lectures, and a great cup of coffee. Here are some of the top bookstores in the United States.
1. Books & Books
© Books & Books
Located in a beautiful Mediterranean-style building dating back to 1927 in Coral Gables, Books & Books is a renowned bookshop and one of the largest independent booksellers in Florida. Founded by Mitchell Kaplan in 1982, the store has stunning interiors with original tile floors, beamed ceilings, dark-wood bookshelves, a crackling fireplace, and a charming open-air palm-lined courtyard. Listed on the Register of Historic Places, Books & Books not only sells the largest selection of new and used books in the state but also serves delicious farm-to-table cuisine and freshly brewed coffee in their full-service café. Books & Books is open seven days a week.
265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, FL, Phone: 305 442-4408
2. Bart's Books
© Bart's Books
Located in Ojai, California, Bart's Books is an independent outdoor bookstore where bibliophiles can browse bookcases along the street. Founded by Richard Bartinsdale in 1964, the book shop began as a small store selling books on the sidewalk and coffee cans registers and has grown into the largest independently owned outdoor bookstore in the world with expansive inventory that includes new books and some rare first editions. The store has comfortable reading areas in the store and after closing time, still works on the famous original ‘honor system’ where visitors can shop in the evenings by leaving coins in the coin box for the books they buy. Bart's Books is open seven days a week.
302 W Matilija St, Ojai, CA 93023, Phone: 805-646-3755
3. Book Culture
Book Culture is an independent bookstore with three locations in New York City that sells literary fiction, best-sellers, art books, and academic titles. Founded as Labyrinth Books on 112th in 1997 by Chris Doeblin and Cliff Simms, Book Culture became a completely independent company in 2007 and opened its second location, Book Culture on Broadway, two years later. The store has hosted a plethora of events over the years, including 135 in-store events and 245 author meetings, as well as book signings, and bookselling services for offsite events. Book Culture also hosts six children’s storytime readings every week and is open seven days a week.
536 W 112th St, New York, NY 10025, Phone: 212-865-1588
4. Book Thug Nation
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Book Thug Nation is a cozy bookstore and community space that sells secondhand works of fiction, film, and philosophy, as well as one of the best-used fiction sections in New York City. Located in Brooklyn, New York, the bookstore carries a wide range of genres, from fiction, poetry, and drama to science-fiction, foreign language, erotica, and art. Book Thug Nation hosts a wealth of events and functions such as author readings and book signings, lectures and symposiums, movie screenings, neighborhood meetings, special children’s nights, and more. Bart's Books is open seven days a week.
100 N 3rd St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
5. Boulder Book Store
© Boulder Book Store
Boulder Book Store is a vast 20,000 square foot award-winning book shop and Boulder’s largest independent bookstore. Owned by David Bolduc, the bookstore spans three floors and sells new and used books, as well as out-of-print and rare editions across a plethora of genres from fiction and non-fiction to children’s stories and artbooks. The upstairs Ballroom is used as a gathering spot for hosting events such as author appearances and book signings, book and poetry readings, literary lectures and symposiums, and community meetings. The bookstore has a dedicated education section that offers an array of educational services and one-on-one assistance.
1107 Pearl Street, Boulder, Colorado 80302, Phone: 303-447-2074
6. City Lights Bookstore & Publishers
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Founded in 1953 by renowned poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti to present the work of Beat poets like Jack Kerouac, City Lights Bookstore has a rich literary history and is one of the nation’s greatest independent bookshops. Located on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco’s North Beach area, which is famous for housing Beat Generation poets, the bookstore was taken to court in the mid-50s for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and other Poems. Today, the publishing arm continues to release new works and translated works of critical international authors, and an extensive collection of political works, all of which are only available in paperback.
261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA, Phone: 415-362-8193
7. Elliott Bay Book Company
© Elliott Bay Book Company
The Elliott Bay Book Company is a long-standing bookseller that has not only survived the age of Amazon and e-books but has thrived in it. Established over 40 years ago, and still going strong in a city that brought the digital age to light, the quirky bookstore boasts a fresh and contemporary ambiance with solid wood interiors and trendy café and coffee shop. Elliott Bay is ideal for browsing, researching, hanging out, relaxing over coffee, or curling up in a corner with a book, and hosts free book readings every evening featuring a widely published touring author. The Elliott Bay Book Company is open seven days a week.
1521 Tenth Ave., Seattle, Washington, Phone: 206-624-6600
8. Farley’s Bookshop
Founded in 1967 by Jim Farley in New Hope, Pennsylvania, Farley’s Bookshop is a warm and welcoming bookstore with cozy nooks and crannies, knowledgeable booksellers, and a cat called Butter. Owners Jim and his wife Nancy have a passion for reading, and this is carried through in the store with a wealth of new and used books covering all genres from art and music to fiction, non-fiction, science, and children’s books. The science section offers a mix of hard science with an extensive Dover collection and pop science, as well as many books about ideas. Farley’s Bookshop is open seven days a week.
44 S Main St, New Hope, PA 18938, Phone: 215-862-2452
9. Faulkner House Books
Tucked away in an alley off Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Faulkner House Books is one of the city’s hidden gems. Housed in the former home of famous American novelist and Nobel laureate William Faulkner, the bookstore is considered a national literary landmark and cozy, literary sanctuary with a chandeliers-and-shelves vibe. The charming, independent bookstore sells a good selection of literary fiction ranging from classics to current publications, books about New Orleans and local culture, and rare, signed, and out-of-print books, including classic and limited edition books by Faulkner. It is thought that the bookshop is haunted by the author himself with people claiming to have seen him at his writing desk, which is still in the store.
624 Pirate's Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116, Phone: 504-524-2940
10. Henry Miller Memorial Library
The Henry Miller Memorial Library is an art hub and bookstore in Big Sur, California that promotes the literary and artistic works of famous author and Big Sur resident Henry Miller. The nonprofit center focuses on good conversation, freedom of thought, good art, food, and wine and serves as a cultural experience for both visitors and residents alike. The library hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including author appearances, book signings, lectures, symposiums, live music, and community events, such as The Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series, Big Sur Writing Workshops, Big Sur Sound and Story, and the Big Sur Fashion Show.
48603 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, Phone: 831-667-2574
11. J. Michaels Books
© J. Michaels Books
Founded in downtown Eugene in 1975, J. Michaels Books has been selling a curated and compelling general selection of new, used, and antiquarian books for the past 45 years. Located in Eugene’s historic Quackenbush building, the bookstore also offers an ever-changing array of sale books in all fields that will appeal to the most discriminating buyer and provides outstanding individualized service tailored to each customer’s interests and tastes such as ordering books of all kinds from the newest bestseller to the rarest of antique collectibles. J. Michaels Books is open seven days a week.
160 E Broadway, Eugene, OR 97401, Phone: 541-342-2002
12. Left Bank Books
© Left Bank Books
Located in the Pike Place Market, Left Bank Books is a collective bookstore that has been a long-standing fixture of Seattle's literary community since 1973. Collectively-owned and operated by its workers, the anarchist collective publishes and distributes original works, and other used titles with 10,000 new and used books spread across 70 sections, including anarchism, feminist studies, labor history, environmentalism, race and culture studies, and science fiction. Left Bank Books is open seven days a week.
92 Pike St # B, Seattle, WA 98101, Phone: 206-622-0195
Located a few blocks from the University of Michigan's campus in the downtown Ann Arbor in Michigan, Literati Bookstore is an independent bookstore that was established to enhance the vibrant downtown culture and arts scene and provide a gathering space for the community to socialize, interact and share a love of literature. Literati Bookstore also hosts author appearances and readings, poetry nights, book clubs, and lectures, and a team of passionate and experienced booksellers is on hand to provide advice and information and order unique books. Literati Bookstore is open seven days a week.
124 E. Washington Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, Phone: 734-585-5567
14. Powell’s Books
© Powell’s Books
Hailed as the largest independent bookstore in the world, Powell’s Books is a vast book emporium with several locations around the city that has been providing book lovers and bibliophiles great reading material since 1971. Synonymous with the free spirit of Portland, the quintessential Portland brick and mortar flagship store on Burnside supplies hands-on titles the day new books are published, as well as out-of-print titles and rare editions. Built to impress, the store on Burnside is a welcoming space that encourages browsing, wandering, exploring, and reading in a bright and eclectic area. Powell’s Books is open seven days a week.
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland, Oregon, Phone: 503-228-4651
15. Prairie Lights
Located in a historic building that was once home to a 1930s local literary society in the heart of Iowa City, Prairie Lights is a large book shop with three-and-a-half floors of bookstore bliss, boasting shelves packed with works by local, national and international writers. Founded by Jim Harris as a space to showcase established writers of fiction and introduce new voices, the store is within proximity to the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa and enjoys an impressive literary pedigree. It also is home to the long-running literary reading series known as ‘Live from Prairie Lights,’ which is presented live and then streamed over the Internet and has a casual café where freshly brewed coffee and light snacks are served. Prairie Lights is open seven days a week.
15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City, IA, Phone: 319-337-2681
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16. Prospero’s Bookstore
Founded in 1997, Prospero’s Bookstore is a three-floor multimedia store in the heart of Kansa City’s bohemian core on 39th Street. Based in a beautifully maintained historic 1890 building surrounded by bustling restaurants and bars and a short walk from the Plaza and downtown convention district, Prospero’s sells over 50,000 titles of books across 70 genres, as well as vinyl records, CDs and films. The store has cozy nooks and crannies where visitors can curl up with a book and hosts author appearances and readings, poetry nights, book clubs, and lectures throughout the year. Prospero’s Bookstore is open seven days a week.
1800 W 39th St, Kansas City, MO 64111, Phone: 816-531-9673
17. Relay Bookhouse
Relay Bookhouse is the largest and oldest independent bookstore in Bethel, Connecticut, and specializes in new, used, rare, and out-of-print titles, as well as contemporary and hard-to-find titles in all subjects. Located on Greenwood Avenue, the bookstore sells a selection of literary fiction ranging from classics to current publications, covering all genres from art and music to fiction, non-fiction, science, and children’s books. The store also carries a variety of book-related items, such as fine bindings, gift items, and book-related accessories and clothing. Relay Bookhouse is open seven days a week.
102 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, CT 06801, Phone: 203-791-9747
18. San Francisco Botanical Garden Bookstore
The San Francisco Botanical Garden Bookstore is based at the San Francisco Botanical Garden in the Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The cozy bookstore sells a wide range of books related to gardening, garden design, herbs, trees and shrubs, fauna and flora, walking and hiking, and botanical art. The store also sells a wealth of garden-related gifts and garden-centric souvenirs such as notebooks, bookmarks, tote bags, posters, cards and postcards, magnets, calendars and maps, and visitors can also buy a wide selection of plants daily with a team of knowledgeable volunteers on hand to offer advice.
310-312 Martin Luther King Jr Dr, San Francisco, CA 94122, Phone: 415-661-1316 ext 408
19. Taylor Books
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Located on Capitol Street in downtown Charleston’s Historic District, Taylor Books is an independent bookstore, café and coffee shop, and art gallery. Opened by Ann Saville in 1995, Taylor Books sells a wide selection of books covering all genres, from art and music to fiction, non-fiction, science and children’s books, wide variety of hard-to-find magazines, and a unique collection of cards and gifts. Visitors can relax in the casual café over a cup of coffee and light fare and enjoy unlimited wireless Internet or browse the range of local contemporary art and handmade crafts in the Annex Gallery. Taylor Books is open seven days a week.
226 Capitol St, Charleston, WV 25301, Phone: 304-342-1461
20. The Last Bookstore
Located in the historic Crocker Bank Building in downtown Los Angeles, The Last Bookstore is a 22,000 square foot space with a spectacular interior design featuring high ceilings, marble columns, creative shelving packed with colored-coded books and a half-archway made entirely out of used books. Blending a laid-back book-nerd hipness with the classic SoCal vibe, book shop is California’s largest independent bookstore that also houses a vinyl LP shop, a graphic novel shop, and hosts regular literary and musical events throughout the year. The Spring Arts Collective shares a space with the bookstore, which showcases rotating exhibitions of local contemporary artists, and a new concept called the ‘Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore’ offers over 100,000 books all selling for one dollar each.
435 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA, Phone: 213-488-0599
21. The Montague Bookmill
The Montague Bookmill is an independent bookstore in Montague, Massachusetts, that sells an ample collection of used books in a warm and welcoming space. Based in the beautifully restored 1834 Alvah Stone Mill on the banks of the Sawmill River, the bookstore not only sells a wide variety of used books spanning a range of genres such as art and music, fiction, non-fiction, science-fiction and children’s books, but is also a haven for artists and writers with a music shop and an artists’ collective. The Lady Killigrew Café next door serves a menu of farm-to-table cuisine and freshly brewed coffee. The Montague Bookmill is open seven days a week.
440 Greenfield Rd, Montague, MA 01351, Phone: 413-367-9206
22. The Strand
The Strand Bookstore is an independent bookstore in the heart of the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City that boasts “18 miles of books” featuring between two and three million old and new books available for purchase. Established in 1927, the family-owned business is located at the corner of East 12th Street on Broadway just two blocks south of Union Square and is stacked high with piles of books and surrounded by iconic dollar carts. Renowned for having “18 miles of books,” which is the bookstore’s slogan and can be found on all their merchandising., the store has been featured in several films over the years, and several famous people have worked in the store including Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine. The Strand is a literary paradise, and the only remaining survivor of NYC’s lost “Book Row.”
828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, Phone: 212-473-1452
23. The Tattered Cover
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Tattered Cover is a large independent bookstore and café in Denver, Colorado that sells new and used books in a cozy, comfortable atmosphere. Exuding a welcoming ambiance with plush sofas, overstuffed chairs, and a world-class newsstand, the Denver institution is owned by Joyce Meskis and is a gathering place for the community. In addition to supplying a wide range of new and used books, rare editions, magazines, and other literary materials, the bookstore also hosts a variety of events such as author meetings and book signings, poetry readings, and more throughout the year. Tattered Cover has four branches in the metro area and three satellite stores at Denver International Airport, and sells books online.
2526 East Colfax Avenue, Congress Park, Denver, Colorado, 80206, Phone: 303-322-7727
What are the 23 of the Best Bookstores?
The 23 of the Best Bookstores according to local experts are: