The Most Beloved Bookstore in Every State (#21 Isn't Just for Ivy Leaguers)

Experience the allure of a cherished bookshop, where every page holds a story.

choosing a book to buy
Updated May 28, 2024
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Whether it’s that fresh book smell or the thought of curling up in a cozy corner with a cup of coffee, there’s something special about stepping into a bookstore.

Finding the best bookshop in any state is worth the trip, no matter if you’re looking for trendy and modern or as homely as possible.

So, grab your favorite travel credit card and let us guide you to the most beloved bookstores in each state.

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Alabama: Jim Reed Books (Birmingham)

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Jim Reed Books, also known as the Museum of Fond Memories, is a fabulous bookstore in the historic Downtown Birmingham area.

What makes it particularly special is that it has over 50,000 books, newspapers, and magazines, including many rare titles.

Even more interesting, they have about 250,000 items in the store that are not cataloged, meaning there’s a treasure to find here.

Alaska: Title Wave Books (Anchorage)

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For new and used books, check out Title Wave Books, which boasts 25,000 square feet of space. You’ll also find music, audiobooks, vinyls, and DVDs.

A very community-friendly location, they often have readings and meet-the-author experiences. The kids will love the huge children’s section.

Arizona: Changing Hands Bookstore (Phoenix)

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An independent bookstore with both new and used books, Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix (though they are also in Tempe) offers a huge selection and really great service. You can trade in your old books for new ones, too.

If you need another reason to visit, it’s the First Draft Book Bar, where you can enjoy a coffee and pastry or perhaps a beer or a glass of fine wine.

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Arkansas: WordsWorth Books (Little Rock)

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A small business that’s super friendly and feels like a reading room in your home, WordsWorth Books & Co. has plenty to offer avid readers.

This community-centric location is all about supporting local schools through fundraisers and book donations.

When you visit, consider checking out the events calendar for book signings, shop and sip events, and story time.

California: The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles)

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A fun and beautiful destination for readers, The Last Bookstore is like a treasure trove of options.

This multi-level location offers both new and used items (including a huge record collection), and it is easy to get lost over time.

With over 22,000 square feet of space for books, along with five art studios, a yarn shop, a fabulous comic book shop, and a book tunnel, this is the best place to visit in Los Angeles.

Best of all, it’s all in a century-old bank where the old vaults are now little book experiences.

Colorado: Tattered Cover Book Store (Denver)

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Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver is the best in the region, with several locations throughout the state. From the latest releases to old, signed copies, this location offers something for everyone.

Make sure to join the Signed First Editions Club, check out their staff picks, and explore their various in-store events throughout the year.

Since 1971, this destination has been a must for finding a special gift or the perfect book.

Connecticut: R.J. Julia Booksellers (Madison)

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R.J. Julia Booksellers is right on the shoreline and is the perfect location for inspiration or quiet reading. There’s a cafe and bistro for a quick bite to eat while you relax.

They have a fantastic kids' and young adults' program with events and activities to help support the next generation, too.

Delaware: 2nd & Charles (Newark)

N Lawrenson/peopleimages.com grandmother reading a book

At 2nd & Charles, you can buy new or used, sell your books, or trade them in (along with video games, CDs, and more).

Every corner is filled with nostalgic or new items with plenty of toys, puzzles, and interesting things to look at, too.

They also have a large gift shop where you can find something inspirational to gift, a really cool themed t-shirt, the perfect Funko, or every type of Manga you can imagine.

Florida: Books & Books (Coral Gables)

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Books & Books opened in 2001 in a fabulous building that dates back to 1927 (after being located in a 500-square-foot shop beforehand).

When you visit this location, you’ll find exceptional books, a cozy atmosphere, and authors and poets every now and then.

They’ve grown to include virtual book clubs, live events, and a cafe for the perfect drink.

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Georgia: A Cappella Books (Atlanta)

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A Cappella Books is considered one of the few full-service bookstores offering new and used items and a large collection of rare items.

They opened their doors in 1989 to provide an important service to the community. It’s an excellent place to have a conversation and learn.

One great experience here is Writers at the Wrecking Ball, a series of events in which live author interviews take place with writers around the world.

Hawaii: Basically Books (Hilo)

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If you want to learn the history of the Island, find the perfect map to navigate, or hope to meet a local author, the best bookstore in Hawaii is Basically Books in Hilo.

Noted for its live music and fun-themed gift shop, this has been a destination for locals and tourists since 1985. It’s a family-owned shop and the perfect place for higher-quality souvenirs.

Idaho: Rediscovered Books (Boise)

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Rediscovered Books opened its doors in 2006 to offer a location for great books but also a location where it was possible to meet new people.

They offer book clubs, small events, and a huge children’s section. They particularly make it a point to get books into the hands of children to support a lifetime of learning and reading.

Illinois: Powell's Books (Chicago)

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Powell’s Books is a used-book emporium with a large collection of academic books along with others, including antiquarian and out-of-print books.

Their location near the University of Chicago makes this a popular location for textbooks and other educational resources, too.

They are fantastic for trading in old and getting new or finding the perfect rare or bargain book to gift to a friend.

Indiana: Indy Reads Books (Indianapolis)

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As a non-profit organization, Indy Reads Books is a community bookstore with a mission to build literacy. They also teach job readiness skills and offer English language education.

Every time you come in to purchase a book, you’re working to support their mission of adult literacy. It’s an ideal place to find a good book and feel good about that purchase.

Iowa: Prairie Lights Books (Iowa City)

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Prairie Lights Books opened its doors in 1978 in a small nook, has expanded to offer a range of services, and is the hub of the local literary society. There’s a big coffee house here, too.

The bookstore, which is near the University of Iowa, is a downtown city destination perfect for an adventure. Explore the three and a half floors of books to find something special.

Kansas: Rainy Day Books (Fairway)

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Rainy Day Books is in The Fairway Shops and is noted for its original and unique books and events.

Since 1975, the location has provided the community with a location for creative thought, whether it’s a gathering to have a conversation or to raise awareness of literacy needs.

Kentucky: Carmichael's Bookstore (Louisville)

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One of the oldest indie bookstores in Louisville, Carmichael’s is a local treasure. It’s a noted place to buy books, meet authors, enjoy book club meetings, and find the perfect gift (even for non-readers).

Located in a busy, walkable community, Carmichael’s Bookstore is the perfect stop after visiting one of the restaurants or cafes in the area.

Louisiana: Faulkner House Books (New Orleans)

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Faulkner House Books is tucked into the former William Faulkner home in the historic French Quarter. Step into a mansion-style property with stunning floor-to-ceiling shelving.

You’ll find lots of history here, along with rare books. Often called one of the most charming bookstores in the country, it is certainly worth a tour when you’re in New Orleans.

Maine: Sherman's of Bar Harbor (Bar Harbor)

Sherman’s of Bar Harbor is a fantastic bookstore located near the waterfront and is one of several locations owned by Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shops.

The building was used as a printing press in 1886 and was a location to purchase books from the start. Though it’s often changed hands, it remains a historic and charming location.

Maryland: The Ivy Bookshop (Baltimore)

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The Ivy Bookshop is a modern, updated bookshop offering everything from classics to current releases. They partner with numerous schools and educational resources throughout the state.

It’s easy to find something interesting to read here, and the events are fantastic. They offer everything from history lessons to celebrations of various authors.

Massachusetts: Harvard Book Store (Cambridge)

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For the Harvard student, at least some time will likely be spent finding the perfect resource or gift at the Harvard Book Store. This independent location has both new and used books from nearly any genre.

Join a club if you’re local, or check out this Cambridge landmark that dates to 1932 firsthand just for the architecture and history of it all.

Michigan: John K. King Used & Rare Books (Detroit)

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With over a million books available, including new and used books, John K. King Used and Rare Books is worth exploring if you genuinely love hard-to-find books.

The rare book room is a good starting point, but this multi-floor bookstore will take you on a journey through time and many adventures as you explore it.

Minnesota: Next Chapter Booksell (St. Paul)

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Long known as the Common Good Books, it was recently purchased and renamed Next Chapter Booksellers.

A full-service, modern bookshop, there are plenty of trending authors, kid’s books, and best sellers to explore.

You’ll also find various events taking place throughout the year, including book signings to meet the author and educational workshops.

Mississippi: Square Books (Oxford)

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Take a trip to Square Books, which dates back to 1979. The location, which buys and sells books and offers consignment services, is also the perfect place for gifts.

They have collectibles, rare editions, and events throughout the year with authors and local book clubs. The history of the building alone is fantastic in itself.

Missouri: Left Bank Books (St. Louis)

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Located on N. Euclid Avenue, Left Bank Books is a smaller location with a huge selection of books and a very knowledgeable staff.

It opened its doors in 1969 and is one of the region's largest independently owned full-line bookstores.

Located in the historic Central West End neighborhood, there are some fabulous art galleries and tasty restaurants nearby for the perfect day out.

Montana: Country Bookshelf (Bozeman)

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Country Bookshelf is the largest independent bookstore in the state and is also a solid location for finding a small but special gift.

A local favorite for its collections and staff, Country Bookshelf offers two floors of hand-selected books set in the historic downtown district.

Since 1957, it’s offered a wide range of unique items while also working to support literacy in the community.

Nebraska: Indigo Bridge Books (Lincoln)

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Indigo Bridge Books is a solid choice for finding a book, but it’s also a community gathering space.

What makes it particularly enjoyable is that it’s all about inclusiveness (and they also serve a great cup of coffee).

Nevada: Sundance Books and Music

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Located in the Levy Mansion, Sundance Bookstore is super fun with a unique, quirky ambiance. You’ll certainly find used and rare books here.

For over 35 years, the location has been the destination for music, books, and meeting people.

New Hampshire: Gibson's Bookstore (Concord)

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Gibson’s Bookstore was first founded in 1898, making it the oldest bookstore in the region. While it’s moved to a new location since then, it continues to offer community-focused programs and events and a large collection of books.

It’s also the perfect place for children’s books (they are noted for their selection) and educational toys.

New Jersey: The Little Boho Bookshop (Bayonne)

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You can always find the latest Oprah’s Book Club pick available at this vibrant bookstore.

This cozy and beloved bookstore in Bayonne NJ is known for its activities and community. For instance, kids can guess the number of jellybeans in the jar at Easter time and parents also appreciate the Read & Craft packs to take home.

The Little BOHO Bookshop typically features storytime hours for children as well and to everyone's convenience, you can buy used books on their website.

New Mexico: Collected Works Bookstore (Santa Fe)

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Having opened its doors in the 1980s, Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse is a full-service store with local book readings and author signings.

It’s a fantastic place for coffee and a good reading nook, and it's located within a few minutes of the historic downtown Plaza.

New York: Strand Bookstore (New York City)

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Are you looking for a used book, perhaps a rare book, to give as a gift? The Strand Book Store is a charming history option that’s hard to beat.

This landmark bookshop is also noted for its signed books, gifts, and various events throughout the year (and, of course, its ideal location in the heart of the city).

North Carolina: Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe (Asheville)

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Malaprop’s Café first opened its doors in 1982 and has since become an institution in this city, offering a large selection of books.

They are also noted for bringing authors and readers together, supporting local community events focusing on literacy, and offering good food and coffee onsite. What’s not to love here?

North Dakota: Zandbroz Variety (Fargo)

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Zandbroz Variety is a quirky, fun location that’s much more than just books.

Though they have modern and older books, including the classics, they are very much a gift shop with options like candles and jewelry.

If you’re creative, you’ll love the journals, art supplies, and writing items here, but for book lovers, it’s all about what’s new or finding the perfect vintage book to dive into.

Ohio: Joseph-Beth Booksellers (Cincinnati)

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Joseph-Beth Booksellers in the Rockwood Commons area is a full-service bookshop (and home to the Bronte Bistro when you get hungry after exploring the endless books here).

Larger and modern, they are a local and independently owned bookstore that’s a fixture in the area.

Oklahoma: Magic City Books (Tulsa)

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In Tulsa, you’ll find Magic City Books, a bookstore operated by the Tulsa Literary Coalition, a local nonprofit organization. They’re a very specialized location, noted for their literary and fiction works.

Everything they serve here, from hot chocolate and coffee to exceptional books, is for a good purpose to support the community as a whole.

Oregon: Powell's City of Books (Portland)

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Powell’s City of Books is perhaps the most iconic location in the area for both new and used books and calls itself the world’s largest bookstore.

It’s been operating in the region since 1971 and remains a family-owned bookstore noted for having just about anything you can imagine.

Pennsylvania: The Doylestown Bookshop (Doylestown

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If you’re looking for a bookshop where you can share conversations with the staff over the book you’re reading, check out The Doylestown Bookshop.

This locally owned bookstore has worked hard to preserve the heritage and ideals of independent bookstores. They offer it all, including a boost to inspire intellectual growth and discovery in all ages.

Rhode Island: Books on the Square (Providence)

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Books on the Square has one of the region's best children’s book areas, but adults are sure to find the rows of unique and interesting books worthy of a visit as well.

This bookstore is in the historic Wayland Square area. You’ll find story times and author events throughout the year, too.

South Carolina: Blue Bicycle Books (Charleston)

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Blue Bicycle Books is the place for avid readers who want to find great prices on used books of all genres.

It’s a small, charming location, amongst a nook in the wall, that offers a wide range of books.

It was founded in 1995 and is the long-running host of the Piccolo Spoleto reading and various other activities, including writing camps for kids and the YALLFest.

South Dakota: Mitzi's Books (Rapid City)

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Mitzi’s Books at The Shops at Main Street Square is the perfect place to duck in on a hot day or a cool afternoon to find a fun book to read.

With a cozy vibe and friendly staff. It has an old-world, most enchanting experience to offer. You can tell the owners are true book lovers from the collection, knowledge, and quality of service here.

Tennessee: Parnassus Books (Nashville)

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Opened by a novelist in 2011, Parnassus Books is an independent bookseller with so much to offer (including a comfortable location to simply sit and read).

You’ll find a variety of fun things here, including subscription boxes, unique gifts for book lovers, and events such as readings, poetry, and author signings.

Texas: BookPeople (Austin)

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BookPeople is recognized as one of the largest bookstores in the state but remains locally owned and managed.

Come in, go up and down the rows of books, enjoy a coffee made your way, and then pick up a fun gift for a friend.

Opening their doors in 1970, they have worked to become an award-winning destination supporting the Austin community and the authors within it.

Check out their consignment program, book club, and teacher resources, too.

Utah: Weller Book Works (Salt Lake City)

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At Weller Book Works in Trolley Square, you’ll find rare books, lots of used books that are well-priced, and new products.

Noted for their passion for rare books, this is the place to go if you’re looking for something special (or someone who can offer insightful recommendations).

Note that this is a long-standing destination in an area that’s recently revitalized. It’s fun to come down, find a book or gift, and enjoy a meal nearby.

Vermont: Northshire Bookstore (Manchester)

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Northshire Bookstore is an “everything” bookshop with a huge selection of books for most needs, a large gift selection for booklovers and non-readers alike, and some great breakfast sandwiches and coffees.

The original storage was founded in 1976, and while the new location is larger, the vibe and feel of a historically charming location remains.

Virginia: Shelf Life Books (Richmond)

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With over 45,000 books, Shelf Life Books is a fun, vibrant location perfect for finding something weird. It’s not too big, but certainly offers something for anyone.

It’s easily a hub for readers and authors, with events with top-rated authors often occurring. Once called Chop Suey Books, the new name hasn’t changed the long-time patrons coming to this location for all their reading needs.

Washington: Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle)

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Elliott Bay Book Company offers floors of books and gifts to explore as a full-service bookshop. It’s the ideal place to sit and read or even to get some work done with a cup of coffee.

Located in the Capitol Hill area, it has a large selection of new books and vintage treasures. The location has provided everything from author signings to the latest releases for more than five decades.

West Virginia: Taylor Books (Charleston)

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Taylor Books in the Downtown Charleston Historic District is an independent bookstore, art gallery, and cafe, and it is the perfect place for anyone to find a gift.

There’s live music from time to time, free Wi-Fi always available, and little nooks to hide in as you read and relax. You can also take an art glass in the Annex Gallery.

Wisconsin: Boswell Book Company (Milwaukee)

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Over at Boswell Book Company, you’ll find a solid standard bookshop with a wide selection of items and competitive pricing.

They have an extensive line-up of author signings, various events for the whole family, and secondhand books to explore.

Wyoming: Wind City Books (Casper)

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At Wind City Books, you can take full advantage of coffee, the latest releases, and old favorites.

The location hosts various events throughout the year, including book signings.

Bottom line

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Visiting iconic bookshops is the best way to get a feeling for the local community or to strike up a conversation with other book lovers about the latest releases or a tried-and-true classic.

If you’re trying to travel more this year, make it a point to find the best small bookstore in each community to get a glimpse into what independent bookshops do for the community.

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