The Most Loved Bookstore in Every State
Despite the rise of Ebooks and Amazon, the charming independent bookstore is still alive and well in America. From those with the largest selection to the ones with the coziest atmosphere, these are the best bookstores in each of the 50 states, according to customer votes on Nextdoor.com.
Alabama: Page and Palette
The early bird may get the cup of coffee at Page and Palette in Fairhope, but the night owl gets the craft cocktail. That’s because this fourth-generation family-owned shop, which began as a book and art supply store, now has both a cafe and bar, meaning you (almost) never have to leave.
Alaska: Title Wave Books
You’ll find quality and quantity at Title Wave in Anchorage, the state’s largest bookstore. Bonus: The price is definitely right, especially if you shop the $1.99 (yes, really!) and $3.99 tables. Not sure which book to choose? Start with these great books you can read in a day.
Arizona: Changing Hands Bookstore
Come for the pages, stay for the pours. Phoenix’s Changing Hands is home to the cleverly-named First Draft Bar, one of the only “book bars” in the United States, where you can sip a lavender mimosa or a locally made mead while discussing that month’s book club pick.
Arkansas: WordsWorth Books
If you’re looking for a book on Arkansas flora and fauna or even a guide to the most bizarre Southern state lingo, you’ll find it all at WordsWorth, which offers a large selection of local interest reads. As you browse, you’ll be treated to the pleasant sound of chirping from the flock of finches that lives in the back of this store in Little Rock.
California: Bookshop Santa Cruz
Become a regular at Bookshop Santa Cruz and you’ll join 49,000 other people who make up the store’s “Frequent Buyer” program. Whether it’s Bookshop’s extensive new release section or the fact that it’s been a California institution for over 50 years, customers keep coming back for more. And speaking of new reads, here are some books you should add to your reading list before you watch their movies.
Colorado: Tattered Cover Bookstore
The Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver is a literary lover’s paradise. You’ll find tons of comfy couches to pass a rainy day with your nose in your favorite book, the coziest atmosphere, and, with its slew of book signings and celebrity appearances, a solid chance you’ll catch a glimpse of one of your favorite authors.
Connecticut: R.J. Julia Booksellers
One thing that makes a good bookstore a great bookstore is a knowledgeable staff. Which is exactly what you’ll experience at R.J. Julia in Madison, where the salespeople not only read all of the books they recommend but also include a handwritten index card in each novel with a quick summary of the plot and why they liked it.
Delaware: Browseabout Books
Big-city selection with a small-town feel—that’s the vibe at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, where the shelves may be stocked with over 35,000 different titles but the owners have worked hard to keep that quaint and charming bookstore atmosphere that big chains lack. While you’re there, snag one of these books for the person who’s read everything.
Florida: Haslam’s Book Store Inc
What’s better than an afternoon spent with a good book? An afternoon spent with a good book and a cute kitty. At this St. Petersburg institution (it’s been around since 1933!), you’ll likely be joined by one of the four kitties that roam the store as you read. If you aren’t sure what to dive into, here are the 9 books that might just change your life.
Georgia: Little Shop of Stories
There are regular children’s bookstores—and then there’s the Little Shop of Stories. While the magical shop in Decatur hosts four storytimes a week and four book clubs just for kids and teens, its real claim to fame is its nine weeks of wonderfully whimsical summer camps which each feature a different book theme (there’s even a Camp Hogwarts!). And for adults, these are the children’s books you should definitely reread as a grown-up.
Don’t let the size of this Kailua shop fool you. While it may be small, it’s jam-packed with thousands of titles, from Hawaiian history books to page-turning horror stories to easy beach reads. The little ones will love BookEnds‘ playful kids’ spot, too, which has a basket of toys that children can play with while parents browse.
Idaho: Rediscovered Books
A large selection of reads isn’t the only thing that Rediscovered Books has going for it—it’s also well-known around Boise for its foodie-approved events. It all started with “Books and Booze” (aka a book club fueled by wine and beer) and has grown into other edible offerings like “Tasty Tales Storytime,” where kids and adults alike can snack on donuts while listening to their favorite children’s books read out loud.
Illinois: Anderson’s Bookshop
There’s a reason that Anderson’s Bookshop was previously named “Bookstore of the Year” by Publishers Weekly: It hosts author appearances almost every single day of the week! Whether it’s book signings or writer Q&As, the Chicago shop’s four locations are a revolving door of famous faces.
Indiana: Indy Reads Books
As if you needed an excuse to buy more books, this Indianapolis store donates part of all its profits towards Indy Reads, a nonprofit that works to improve adult literacy in the community. After you snag a few page-turners, roam through the eclectic art gallery, where you’ll often be treated to local artist showings, poetry slams, and musical performances.
Iowa: Prairie Lights Books & Cafe
You could easily get lost among the three floors of stacks that make up Prairie Lights in Iowa City. But make sure you find your way to the bottom level before you leave—it houses a cafe in the same space where some of the literary greats of the last century used to meet (think Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, and E.E. Cummings).
Kansas: Rainy Day Books
If you thought your calendar was busy, wait until you see the schedule of events for Rainy Day Books. The Kansas City shop puts on over 300 different author events every year, bringing in some of the most well-known, prize-winning writers. Coming up this month, for instance? Celeste Ng, Rick Atkinson, and W. Bruce Cameron.
Kentucky: Carmichael’s Bookstore
Not much has changed at Carmichael’s since it first opened its doors in 1978, and that’s a good thing. The family-run business in Louisville embodies the “buy local” movement in everything it does, from personal touches woven throughout the store to the fact that all of its titles are hand-picked by staff members. Psst: These are the most iconic books set in every state.
Louisiana: Octavia Books
Meet New Orleans’ hidden gem. Tucked away on a side street, Octavia has something for everyone, whether you’re in search of a classic novel or something off of the New York Times bestseller list. And on the off chance that they don’t have what you’re looking for? They’ll order it and have it in the store for you within a week.
Maine: Longfellow Books
If you’re looking for the quintessential used bookstore, take a trip to Longfellow Books in Portland. It has that well-worn, messy-but-cozy atmosphere that’s perfect for digging through the sale bins to find a book (or two!) on a budget. And if you’re wondering what makes old books smell so amazing, here’s the explanation.
Maryland: Ivy Bookshop
“Ask and you shall receive” seems to be the motto at the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, where you’re welcome to browse freely (without being interrupted or bothered), but, if you do want recommendations or have questions, the warm and knowledgeable staff is always willing to help. Speaking of recommendations, this is the official list of the books everyone needs to read in their lifetime.
Massachusetts: Porter Square Books
Porter Square Books is, well, a bookstore first and foremost, but it’s also a place where locals come to hang out, grab a cup of coffee (and one of the cafe’s famous scones!), and get together with family and friends. And if you do want a little privacy or just some peace and quiet, there are plenty of hidden nooks and crannies throughout the shop.
Michigan: Nicola’s Books Ann Arbor
If the rows and rows of hardcover books don’t get you in the door at Nicola’s, the lure of free coffee and a crackling fireplace will. With walls lined by oversized autographed book covers, the Ann Arbor shop (which constantly smells like fresh-baked bagels thanks to the bakery next door) hosts numerous signings and author events weekly.
Minnesota: Wild Rumpus
You’d be hard-pressed to find a kids’ bookstore quite as quirky or whimsical as Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis. At this store, which is based off the children’s book The Salamander Room, you’ll start “inside” and then, as you move through the different rooms, you’ll work your way “outside” into a space painted to resemble the outdoors and filled with both plush and live animals.
Mississippi: Lemuria Books
For over 25 years, Lemuria Books in Jackson has specialized in first editions, even dedicating an entire room of the shop (which is a converted apartment) to the treasured titles. They also offer two “First Editions Clubs,” one for fiction reads and one for non-fiction. Want to start your own book club? Follow this guide.
Missouri: Left Bank Books
Cute window displays? Check. Friendly store cat named Spike roaming the aisles? Check. A basement full of used books? Check. There’s a lot to love about Left Bank in St. Louis—just ask Hilary Clinton or Jimmy Carter, two of the hundreds of notable celebrities who have made appearances at the store over the years.
Montana: The Book Exchange
This is not a drill: You can leave The Book Exchange with a stack of reads without ever spending a dime. That’s because the Missoula mainstay has a trade-in program where you can swap used paperbacks. If you don’t live nearby, here are some other easy ways to donate your old books.
Nebraska: The Bookworm
This Omaha institution is known for its plethora of book clubs, but its ties to famous billionaire (and Nebraska native) Warren Buffett are a close second. Not only does The Bookworm provide all of the books for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, but it also stocks all of Buffett’s top titles, which he hand-chooses each year.
Nevada: Grassroots Books
While every day is a great day to visit Grassroots in Reno, the best is when the shop is having one of its famous warehouse sales. A few times a year, they’ll open up a back room and fill it with over 10,000 books that cost 99¢ each (plus kids’ books for only a quarter!).
New Hampshire: Gibson’s Bookstore
You don’t even have to live in Concord to take advantage of what Gibson’s has to offer (although nothing really beats its charming, family-oriented atmosphere!). That’s because the bookstore has its very own podcast, The Laydown, in which staff members discuss everything from the latest book news to the upcoming releases they’re most excited about.
New Jersey: [words] bookstore
Walk into [Words] in Maplewood and you’ll notice it’s open and airy, the opposite of most bookstores. But there’s a very important reason for that—the shop was designed by the owners, who have an autistic son, to be very accommodating and welcoming to kids with special needs. Among their large selection of books, they offer an extensive section of resources for parents of disabled children.
New Mexico: Bookworks
Albuquerque’s Bookworks is exactly what you want in an eclectic independent bookstore: rotating racks of quirky gifts, shelves of books ranging from the most popular titles to the most unusual, and a healthy offering of author events each week. And as an added bonus, it’s right next door to the Flying Star Cafe, so you can fuel your book-browsing adventures with a massive slice of homemade cake.
New York: Book Revue
Huntington’s Book Revue manages to make its own very special mark: One of the largest independent bookstores in the entire country, it’s been frequented by not only thousands of happy customers but also plenty of famous authors, including Jojo Moyes, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ken Follett.
North Carolina: Quail Ridge Books
Coming to Quail Ridge feels like coming home, thanks to its inviting atmosphere, ever-smiling staff, and cozy decor. Along with an award-winning children’s section which hosts numerous weekly storytimes and kids’ book signings, the Raleigh shop has a robust music department that throws frequent free concerts for the community.
North Dakota: Zandbroz Variety
The name says it all: The variety of gifts, books, home decor, jewelry, crafts, and more at Zandbroz is jaw-dropping. You could literally spend hours just combing through the racks of quirky cards and eclectic knick-knacks. The fun doesn’t stop there, either. The original location in Sioux Falls also has an old-fashioned soda fountain inside.
Ohio: Book Loft of German Village
There’s not one, not two, not three…but 32 (!!) rooms full of page-turners at the Book Loft, which spans an entire city block. Situated in a pre–Civil War era historic building in Columbus, it’s as charming as it is big—when the weather is nice, you can take your book out to the courtyard, filled with gurgling fountains and shady magnolia trees.
Oklahoma: Best of Books
The first rule of book club: Don’t talk about book club. While that’s not exactly true at Best of Books in Edmond, their “book club” is a lesser-known fact. But it’s also one that’s definitely worth joining: For every 12 books you buy from the shop, you get a store credit to put towards your 13th. We recommend one of these 20 highest-rated titles on Goodreads!
Oregon: Annie Bloom’s Books
It’s hard to nail down exactly what it is that makes Portland’s Annie Bloom’s so special. Maybe it’s the plush dragon rocker in the kids’ section that is rumored to be over 25 years old. Or maybe it’s the store’s mascot, a black cat named Molly Bloom. Or maybe it’s the caring staff, some of whom have worked at the neighborhood bookstore for over three decades!
Pennsylvania: Doylestown Bookshop
If there’s one thing that Doylestown Bookshop prides itself on, it’s how well it preserves the legacy of family-run, small-town bookstores. Whether you want to bring your child to one of the interactive storytimes or comb through the quirky odds and ends tucked between bookshelves, there’s always something new to discover here.
Rhode Island: Wakefield Books
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. These are all things you can find at Wakefield Books, which boasts plenty of new and used titles organized neatly by category on its shelves. Music lovers will also enjoy the locally owned independent bookstore’s ever-growing vinyl record collection.
South Carolina: Mr. K’s Used Books
With locations in four different cities, Mr. K’s is legendary among literary fans who like to sell old books or trade them in for new ones. Bonus: They also take gently used CDs, videos, vinyl, comic books, and more. And all that inventory means one thing for shoppers in the store: that old book smell we all wish we could bottle up.
South Dakota: Mitzi’s Books
Come for the books, stay for the unique furniture and display tables dotting the two-floor store in Rapid City. Each hand-designed piece at Mitzi’s is not only one-of-a-kind and painted by a local artist but is also as comfy as it is creative. Find one of these books you should have read by now, then seek out one of the chairs to call yours for the day.
Memphis’s Novel is much more than a bookstore. It’s a restaurant, a bar, a gathering place, a children’s playroom, and a cozy hangout all in one. What really steals the show, though, is their wildly successful kids’ programming, which includes frequent storytimes and book fairs. These are the best children’s books ever written, according to librarians, teachers, and parents.
Y’all come on in! It isn’t just the quintessential Southern hospitality that makes Austin’s BookPeople such a popular hotspot. It’s also their massive selection (two whole floors of shelves on shelves on shelves), along with the in-house cafe serving up tasty treats, and the eclectic variety of cards, toys, and trinkets for sale.
Utah: The Kings English Bookshop
With an out-of-this-world children’s section funded by famous author James Patterson, The Kings English Bookshop is a must-visit for anyone in the Salt Lake City area. The staff also prides itself on remembering customers’ faces and, more importantly, customer purchases so they can make personalized recommendations. No wonder the store’s slogan is “matching books to customers since 1977.”
Vermont: The Vermont Book Shop
It’s rumored that The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury was a favorite of poet Robert Frost. Whether or not that’s true, it’s definitely evolved into a town landmark over the last 60 years, thanks primarily to its warm customer service and a seemingly endless supply of local-interest gifts and books. Check out these offbeat places where famous works of literature were written.
Virginia: Chop Suey Books
Located in what used to be a Chinese restaurant (hence the name and the store’s cat, WonTon), Chop Suey is what used-bookstore dreams are made of. The unique, funky shop in Richmond is filled to the brim with reads in every genre imaginable. There’s even a “blind date” section of wrapped books where you can buy a book sight unseen to be surprised. If true crime is your thing, you’ll definitely want to find one of these 10 most popular page-turners.
Washington: Third Place Books
Founded on sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s idea that everyone needs three places (home, workplace/school, and a place to interact with others), Third Place in the Seattle area aims to be the latter. The owners literally built a community around books, with the shop itself nestled in a bustling hub that includes a food court, a children’s area, and public commons.
West Virginia: Taylor Books
Bookstore by day, hipster hangout by night, Charleston’s Taylor Books has become a place locals and visitors alike love to go to grab a cup of coffee, catch a live music performance on a Friday evening, or browse the stunning contemporary artwork and artisan crafts in the attached art gallery.
Wisconsin: Boswell Book Company
If you have a book in mind when you come to Milwaukee’s Boswell, great. The incredibly friendly staff will help you find it. But if you don’t know what you want, even better! Because that same staff is made up of fellow bibliophiles who love doling out their own recommendations. You’ll even find picks written on the walls or tucked inside books on handwritten cards.
Wyoming: Wind City Books
Part bookstore, part coffee shop, Wind City Books is the place to go in Casper if you’re looking for a comfy recliner to post up in for an afternoon. And for a tiny bookseller, they have an impressively vast variety of genres. Whichever bookstore you visit, keep this list of the 50 books you need to read before you’re 50 handy.
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