Bookworms & Bibliophiles Unite: 7 Must-Visit Independent Bookstores across the U.S.

Oct 19, 2015
I love reading books for a lot of the same reasons I love to travel.

When I read a great book, I get to take a trip to a place I've never been before. I get to learn about new ways of thinking, new cultures and a lot of the time, just like when I travel,  I come out of the experience looking at the world in a different way.

Powell’s Books: Portland, Oregon

I just visited Powell’s and believe me when I say that it is everything you could want from a bookstore and more. Powell’s started as a single shop in 1970 and has since transformed into four full-service bookstores, two specialty stores and Every branch of Powell’s is complete with new and used, non-fiction and fiction, hardcover and paperback books and more, all living happily together on the same shelf. Did I mention it’s open 365 days a year and is staffed by booklovers who really know their stuff? It’s a Portland institution and a must-visit for any serious bookworm.

BookPeople: Austin, Texas

Located in the heart of Austin, BookPeople offers visitors the widest variety of titles in town and has been recognized as the city’s best bookstore for over 15 years. BookPeople is Texas’ largest independent bookstore and proudly hosts over 300 events each year, including readings, book clubs and author visits. It’s a locally owned, two-story, eclectic booktopia that you can’t miss on your next visit to Austin.

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Strand Books: New York, NY

Do you know how many books can fit into 18 miles? 2.5 million. 2.5 MILLION! Yup, that’s how many new, used and rare books can be found in Strand Books in New York City. Originally opened on Fourth Avenue in 1927, Strands now stands as the lone survivor of New York’s Book Row, which once featured 48 bookstores that ran from Union Square to Astor Place. Now located on Broadway, Strand houses books and literary gifts, covering topics spanning from philosophy to finance. The family-owned store employs over 200 people and hosts events featuring diverse personalities spanning from James Franco to Hilton Als.

Seminary Co-op Bookstore: Chicago, IL

In 1961, 17 people each chipped in $10 to serve the diverse reading needs of the University and Hyde Park communities.  Today, the Seminary Co-op Bookstore has 46,000 shareholders who contribute to the store’s 150,000+ titles, which focus on a myriad of topics in the humanities and social sciences. The store employs 12 full-time and 6 part-time employees who collectively have over 225 years of experience in the book business. Publisher Weekly, along with many others, have hailed the Seminary Co-op “hands down the finest scholarly bookstore in the country.”

Chamblin Bookmine: Jacksonville, Fla.

Chamblin Bookmine has been selling books for nearly 40 years. Between its two locations, the Bookmine houses over 55,000 square feet of books and only 2% of those books are new. That’s right, the vast majority of Chamblin’s books are used or rare thanks to its unique book trade-in policy. Bring a book back to Chamblin and you can receive store credit, giving you access to the ever-changing, diverse collection of books that make Chamblin a sanctuary for booklovers. If you’re in Jacksonville, don’t miss it.

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Moe’s Books: Berkeley, Calif.

Built in the heart of the Beatnik era mere blocks away from the University of California campus, Moe’s Books has become a beloved landmark institution for the people of Berkeley for good reason. Throughout its history, the bookstore has mirrored the famously tumultuous events in Berkeley, including the Free Speech Movement and the famous anti-war protests. Owner and founder Moe Moskowitz has insured the highest quality of used books in his store through his policy of paying top-dollar for fresh, interesting and high quality literature. Moe’s is also home to an active reading series featuring prominent local and national authors.

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Politics and Prose: Washington, D.C.

Politics and Prose is a D.C. cultural institution. As you enter the shop, you’ll find 8,000 square feet devoted to non-fiction and fiction books that address national global issues and the human experience. The store is known for its committed, enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff and its author events which have featured famous speakers (including Harry Potter’s own J.K. Rowling!) While the shop was once owned by two D.C. locals, Politics and Prose is now in the hands of former Washington Post writer Bradley Graham and his wife Lissa Muscatine, former speechwriter to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Lead Photo By: Supannee Hickman /

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