One of my favorite things to look up when I travel is used bookstores. These bookstores are what give a city its individual flavor, encapture its originality and gives a sneak preview of what locals read, as opposed to mass market appeals of chain bookstores like Barnes & Nobel and Borders.
I try to avoid B&N and Borders as much as possible, opting for local Mom & Pop bookstores that, in my opinion, tend to put more thought and care into the presentation of the bookstore and the overall atmosphere.
I haven’t traveled to many places, but I have come across a few notable Used Bookstores that I think require at least poking your head through the door, if not actually purchasing a few books.
In no particular order:
23 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL
This place is comfy, a little hole in the wall bookstore that is about 3 blocks off the Magnificent Mile, and can be easily missed…Don’t miss it!!
They had a great selection of materials, cleverly named sections (Spring Training for sports books, Sandstorms for books on the Middle East). The staff is friendly, its a two-story building, with a reading area downstairs complete with sink and 4 computers for internet access. Prices are moderate, but there is a special rack for autographed books and advanced reading copies.
Eliot Bay Book Company
101 S Main St, Seattle, WA
I’m pretty sure this has been my favorite bookstore to date. Its a few blocks away from the Waterfront in Seattle’s downtown Financial District. It feels old and rickety due to the wooden interior, but its in very stable condition. The books are unique and range from various topics and prices. There is a strong selections of zine’s and the staff recommendations are some of the best books I have read. They also host author readings, from local and well known authors.
Seattle Mystery? Bookshop
117 Cherry St, Seattle, WA
Now, this bookstore was really hidden and tucked away in a lonely little street also in downtown Seattle. This bookstore caught my eye, just by the sign hanging outside the door. Seattle Mystery? Bookshop. The entire bookstore is all mystery books. I’m not a big mystery reader, but I do appreciate that there is a huge population of mystery readers out there in the world. I even picked up 3 complimentary bookmarks that have quotes, which are taken from some of the worst written mystery books out there. Hilarious quotes.
1066 The Alameda, San Jose, CA
(408 ) 286-6275
This is a good local, for me, bookstore that I like to frequent. Its a pretty large bookstore, with really good staff recommendations as well as a friendly in-house kitty that comes across your way every once in a while. Great selection, great prices, great location as well. Its walking distance from Peets and Starbucks (which are also right across the street from each other).
I should mention Powell’s bookstore, but its so well known, that I don’t want to say too much about it. There are 3 Powell cousin used bookstores in Chicago, but I only went to one on Lincoln St. Even though they had a good selection and it was in a two story building, the bottom floor was so crammed with books, that I almost passed out from lack of air to breath.
I’ll try to add more to list as I go along. I’m always glad to take recommendations also.