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Posted by
Faith Lewis
on April 24, 2018

Best Independent Bookstores for Bibliophiles

Posted by
Faith Lewis
on April 24, 2018
the interior of the tiny Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, California, picture
Photo credit
Photo Courtesy of Gallery Bookshop
Photo caption
From the books to the shop kitty to the view of the coastline, there are many reasons to linger at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, California.

The last several years have seen a resurgence of affection for brick-and-mortar bookstores, a phenomenon both celebrated and encouraged with Independent Bookstore Day. On the last Saturday of April, independently owned bookstores around the country hold special events, sell limited time merchandise, and play host to hordes of bibliophiles. (The 2018 event falls on April 28.)

Here are some of the best independent bookstores in the West—worthy of a trip down the street or across the state. For a full list of Independent Bookstore Day participants, click here.

Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino, California

Perch in the bay windows of Gallery Bookshop and enjoy the view of Mendocino Bay’s cliff-edged coastline to watch the annual migration of gray whales (November through April) or pet the Great Catsby, a stray-turned-bookstore-cat. Tuck yourself among the crowded wooden shelves, and choose from a selection of books on local history, ocean life, wine country, and more.

Book Passage, San Francisco, California

With three locations throughout the Bay Area, Book Passage is known far and wide for its events and conferences and a huge selection of titles across genres. Drop into the teeny but bustling Ferry Building Marketplace location for one of over 700 annual author events or get your hands on a signed copy of the hottest new release. Afterward, stop for a nibble at one of the many local food and drink purveyors that line the halls of the Ferry Building.

A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, California

This is the epitome of a cozy bookstore. The long, narrow layout and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are reminiscent of the aisles of a library and make every chair a front-row seat at events with authors such as Anne Lamott and Michael Chabon.

the second room with table and reading chairs at Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills, California, picture
Photo credit
Photo Courtesy of Face in a Book
Photo caption
In El Dorado Hills, California, settle in with a good read at independent shop Face in a Book.

Face in a Book, El Dorado Hills, California

When owner Tina Ferguson opened Face in a Book in 2012, the future of independent bookstores was uncertain at best. Propelled by the belief that bookstores are not just a nostalgic throwback, but a vital part of every healthy community, Face in a Book now caters to readers of all ages with thousands of titles, gifts, and stationery.

Northtown Books, Arcata, California

High ceilings and rows of windows bring that Northern California sunshine into the store and give Northtown Books a bright, airy atmosphere. You’re likely to find an elusive title among the store’s impressive collection, but you may just snag the last copy on the shelf. If you don’t have a specific book in mind, even the bookstore dog has an online list of recommendations.

Sundance Books and Music, Reno, Nevada

Housed in a historic mansion that dates back to the early 1900s, Sundance Books and Music draws both literary and musical enthusiasts to peruse its extensive offerings. The bookstore shares its space with and sells books published by Baobab Press, whose titles run the gamut from literary short story collections to regional and niche works of fiction.

Weller Book Works, Salt Lake City, Utah

If you’re seeking that already-loved, dog-eared novel or hoping to give a dusty tome a new life, this is just the place you’ve been looking for. Weller Book Works has been offering a selection of used and rare books alongside new titles since 1929.

the exterior of Dudley's Bookshop Cafe in Bend, Oregon, picture
Photo credit
Photo Courtesy of Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe
Photo caption
At Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe in Bend, Oregon, sip Kona coffee from the in-store cafe while you browse.

Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe, Bend, Oregon

Whether you’re a visitor to the Pacific Northwest or a local, if you’re as serious about your coffee as you are your books, Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe is sure to please. Grab a cup of Kona coffee or a chai tea at the in-store café and browse new and used books side-by-side.

Annie Bloom Books, Portland, Oregon

Annie Bloom Books believes there’s nothing quite like that new book smell. You won’t find any used books here. Instead, this bookstore excels with its selection of new fiction, children’s, young adult, travel, and cooking titles. And the friendly bookstore cat, Molly, isn’t a bad touch, either. 

Changing Hands Bookstore, Phoenix, Arizona

Taking the classic books and coffee pairing a step further, Changing Hands Bookstore’s Phoenix location offers books and brews at its in-store First Draft Book Bar. Munch on themed snacks like “Horton Hears a Hummus” (hummus with crudités) and enjoy an adult beverage of your choice. Then explore row upon row of brimming bookshelves set against an Instagrammable backdrop of exposed brick walls.