These were touted as being among the most unique bookstores:
Harvard Book Store: Cambridge, MA
Locally owned and independently run since 1932, Harvard Bookstore (harvard.com) has become known as a Harvard Square landmark. Stocked with an extraordinarily diverse selection of new, used, and remaindered books, you’re guaranteed to find something of interest here. Don’t miss the beloved used book basement, where the walls are plastered with old newspaper clippings, book covers, and bookmarks, most of which were found by the staff in the previously read books. The store hosts an award-winning author series with more than 300 author events a year, and a Signed First Editions Club. For writers interested in self-publishing, they also have a print-on-demand machine on site that can print books in the store at an affordable price.
I was just at the Harvard bookstore last July. I was particularly interested in the print-on demand machine, but it was broken. Perhaps an omen? The store also has great clothing, school supplies, periodicals, and items of general curiosity.
And my all time favorite:
Founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin, City Lights is one of the few truly great independent bookstores in the United States, a place where booklovers from across the country and around the world come to browse, read, and just soak in the ambiance of alternative culture’s only “Literary Landmark.” Although it has been more than fifty years since tour buses with passengers eager to sight “beatniks” began pulling up in front of City Lights, the Beats’ legacy of anti-authoritarian politics and insurgent thinking continues to be a strong influence in the store, most evident in the selection of titles.
The nation’s first all-paperback bookstore, City Lights has expanded several times over the years; we now offer three floors of both new-release hardcovers and quality paperbacks from all of the major publishing houses, along with an impressive range of titles from smaller, harder-to-find, specialty publishers. The store features an extensive and in-depth selection of poetry, fiction, translations, politics, history, philosophy, music, spirituality, and more, with a staff whose special book interests in many fields contribute to the hand-picked quality of what you see on the shelves.
I am not sure if I love the history more than the books themselves. One other great feature: the store is close to many great places to eat, nearby Chinatown, and North Beach. You can choose, Chinese food or Italian.
Perhaps the best place to spend a rainy day is the famous bookstore in Portland, Powell’s.
Powell’s Books is an independent bookseller serving Portland, Oregon, since 1971. We’ve grown to employ over 530 people across five Portland-area stores and Powells.com, and our book inventory exceeds two million volumes. In spite of our substantial size and reach, we remain grounded by our company’s core values, which have guided us through the ups and downs of the bookselling industry. Each and every employee’s love of books drives us forward.
We have an especially intimate relationship with Portland — what other city in America can name a bookstore as its top attraction? We host over 500 author events a year, in addition to children’s story times, writing workshops, game demonstrations, and book clubs. Through Powells.com and our expansive online community, we also reach readers around the world, people who are as excited about books as we are.
Powell’s claims to be the world’s largest independent bookstore. I can hardly argue with that statement. But the thing I like best about Powell’s?? They place both used AND new books on the SAME shelf!!!! Yes, a used one might reside next to a new one. Who does that? Only Powell’s!!!!!
Another favorite: The Last Bookstore is California’s largest used and new book and record store. Currently in our third incarnation, we began in a downtown loft in Los Angeles in 2005. That’s when owner Josh Spencer took his decade of experience selling everything from cars to clothes online and focused instead on his first love: books. During the revitalization of downtown LA, we grew quickly to our current 22,000 sq. ft. space in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th & Spring.
The name was chosen with irony, but seems more appropriate with each passing day as physical bookstores die out like dinosaurs from the meteoric impact of Amazon and e-books. We continue to BUY, SELL, and TRADE like we have from day one. In addition to over 250,000 NEW and USED books on two floors, including our new Arts & Rare Book Annex, our shared space includes tens of thousands of VINYL RECORDS and GRAPHIC NOVELS, a huge mezzanine level that includes the Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore, Gather Yarn Shop, and the Spring Arts Collective gallery shops. Truly something for everyone.
Somehow we became one of the largest independent bookstores in the world still standing. We continue to be amazed at how we got here. It’s ALL thanks to people like you who want to keep actual books and records existing in the world. Join the cause — visit us soon!
My only problem with the place is it has a rather confusing layout. It is also very dark and musty, like an old bookstore should be! You may find a hidden gem here as well.
So, there are places better than Amazon to find books. These are just four. And they are definitely more fun than shopping on the Amazon website!!!