Independent bookstores are a principal cornerstone of our democracy. Sadly, they're all under constant pressure from the corporate giants who dominate book publishing & book distribution in today's economy.
But we need not simply hand our country's book business over to the chain stores & e-marketers. Any of the bookstores listed here can find you most any book, & have it available within a few days' time. Dealing with them is just as convenient as dealing with mega-marketers; & many will go the extra mile to dig up hard-to-find, out-of print items that are not available in the big dealers' current inventories.
Best of all, an independent bookstore is a fun place to hang out & browse, & to talk about books with other readers & knowledgeable staff. Many of them regularly bring well-known writers to town to talk about their work & sign copies of their books for those who buy them. If we've missed a great independent bookstore in your town, please click on the bottom right of this page, send us its name and/or URL, & we'll post it!
Apple Valley Books (Winthrop, ME).
Barbara's Bookstore (Chicago, IL).
Black Oak Books (Berkeley, CA).
Black Planet Radical Bookstore (Baltimore, MD).
Bloodroot (Bridgeport, CT).
Bluestockings (NY, NY). Radical books on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
Bolerium Books (San Francisco, CA). Rare & out-of-print books on American social movements.
Book Counter (San Luis Obispo, CA). Progressive/liberal books online.
Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza (Albany, NY).
Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA).
Book People (Austin, TX).
Book Sense (helps connect with an independent book dealer near you).
Books & Books (Coral Gables, FL).
Bookshop Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA).
The Bookstall at Chestnut Court (Winnetka, IL).
The Booksmith (San Francisco, CA).
Bookworks (Albuquerque, NM).
Bound Together Anarchist Collective Bookstore (San Francisco, CA).
Bound to Be Read (St. Paul, MN).
Bound to Be Read (Albuquerque, NM)
Capitola Book Cafe (Capitola, CA).
Chapter One Bookstore (Ketchum, ID).
City Lights (San Francisco, CA).
A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books (San Francisco, CA).
Cultura Latina Bookstore (Long Beach, CA).
Avenue Victor Hugo (Boston, MA).
Big Blue Marble Bookstore (Philadelphia, PA).
Casco Bay Books (Portland, ME).
Chaucer's Books (Santa Barbara, CA).
Cody's Books (Berkeley, CA).
Diesel: A Bookstore (Oakland, CA).
Dutton's Brentwood Bookstore (Los Angeles, CA).
Elliott Bay Book Co. (Seattle, WA).
El Primer Pueblo Librería (San José, CA). No website at present.
Forest Books (San Francisco, CA). No website at present.
Giovanni's Room (Philadelphia, PA). Lesbian, gay, transgender & bisexual books.
Green Apple Books (San Francisco, CA).
The Happy Bookseller (Columbia, SC).
Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops (Milwaukee, WI).
Harvard Bookstore (Cambridge, MA).
House of Our Own (Philadelphia, PA). No website at present.
Hungry Mind (St. Paul, MN). No website at present.
Inkwood Books (Tampa, FL).
Joseph-Beth Booksellers (Cincinnati, OH & Lexington, KY).
Left Bank (St. Louis, MO).
Left Bank Books (Seattle, WA).
Left Hand Books (Boulder CO).
Librería Martínez (Santa Ana, CA).
Liberty Tree (Oakland, CA)
Literary Guillotine (Santa Cruz, CA).
Lucy Parsons Center (Boston, MA).
Marcus Books (San Francisco & Oakland, CA). African American history. No website at present.
Midnight Special Bookstore (Santa Monica, CA).
Modern Times Bookstore (San Francisco, CA).
Moe's Books (Berkeley, CA).
Monkeywrench Books (Austin, TX).
Normal's Books (Baltimore, MD).
Northshire Books (Manchester Center, VT).
Olsson's (Washington, DC)
Orinda Books (Orinda, CA).
Out Word Bound (Indianapolis, IN).
Paul's Bookstore (Madison, WI). No website at present.
Pegasus & Pendragon Books (Berkeley & Oakland, CA).
Politics & Prose (Washington, DC).
Powell's (Portland, OR).
Prairie Lights (Iowa City, IA).
Quimby's (Chicago, IL).
Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative (Madison, WI).
Rainy Day Books (Kansas City, MO).
Readers' Books (Sonoma, CA).
Regulator Bookshop (Durham, NC).
R.J. Julia's Booksellers (Madison, CT).
Rodney's Bookstore (Cambridge, MA).
Schuler Books & Music (Okemos, MI).
Seminary Coop (Chicago, IL).
Shaman Drum (Ann Arbor, MI).
Splintered Light Books (Charlottesville, VA). Center for Christian Study.
St. Mark's Bookshop (NY, NY).
Strand Book Store (NY, NY).
Talking Leaves Books (Buffalo, NY).
Tattered Cover Bookstore (Denver, CO).
Village Books (Bellingham WA).
Vox Pop (Brooklyn, NY).
To find even more of these invaluable institutions, see the US map of them at Map Muse.
On Book Clubs & Reading Groups
Reading Group Center (Random House).
The Reading Group (London).
Fowler, Karen Joy. The Jane Austen Book Club (NY: Putnam's, 2005).
Jacobsohn, Rachel. The Reading Group Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Own Book Club (NY: Hyperion, 1998).
For a sampling of these groups, see the US map of them at Map Muse.