Must-Visit Indie Bookstores

Real-life bookstores as swoon-worthy as The Shop Around the Corner from You’ve Got Mail.


This story was first published on The Reading Room.

Kathleen Kelly’s The Shop Around the Corner will forever be in our hearts as New York’s best Upper West Side children’s bookshop. While we wish the fictional independent bookstore from You’ve Got Mail was real, there are many other indie bookstores that you can actually set foot inside! From California to New York, and London to Sydney, there’s never a shortage of amazing independent bookstores to visit.

The Booksmith, San Francisco, California

The independent bookstore located in the Haight-Asbury neighborhood of San Francisco, is loved for its wide selection of books and its many events—including “Shipwreck” and other author events. Run by husband and wife duo, Praveen Madan and Christin Evans, the bookstore now runs the East Bay’s most successful author events series: Berkeley Arts & Letters.


Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath, United Kingdom

This truly “delight”-ful bookstore located in Bath is full of charm and offers a very enticing Reading Spa package. The package includes a chat with Mr. B’s bibliotherapist (there is such a thing!) and tea and cake to enjoy while they prescribe you a new tower of books to read.


skylight books

Skylight Books, Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles bookstore features many events and great staff picks. The store also hosts book clubs that you can check out on its website. The quirky bookstore is partially-owned by Jeffery Tambor—also known as George Sr. from Arrested Development.


Cow Books, Tokyo, Japan

The Japanese bookseller’s specialties include selling out-of-print books that focus on 1960s-70s social movements, progressive politics and more. The bookstore focuses on books surrounding “freedom”—including memoirs.



Strand Bookstore, New York, New York

Strand Bookstore is one of New York City’s most popular booksellers and features “18 miles of books”. The bookstore features many events including trivia nights and poetry readings and is a staple in New York book culture.


Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The independent store has been open since 1932, operating in Cambridge, Massachusetts—home to Harvard University. While not connected with the school, the book store sells new and used books, hosts author events, delivers books by bike messenger, and can even bind your book for you.


elliott bay books

Elliot Bay Book Co., Seattle, Washington

Featuring many events and author readings throughout the year, the Elliot Bay Book Co. is located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district. The independent bookstore prides itself on being knowledge about all things books and has been helping readers discover them since 1973.


Readings, Melbourne, Australia

With a fully-stocked calendar of events, including conversations, signings, and author panels, this independent bookstore is sure to delight. As a bonus, 10% of its annual profits go to The Readings Foundation—which supports individuals and organizations that wish to further develop literacy, community and the arts.


Slightly Foxed on Gloucester Road

Slightly Foxed, London, United Kingdom

Slightly Foxed started as a quarterly literary journal and in 2009 opened its own bookshop. The bookshop sells both new and used book, with a focus on the second-hand and antiquarian market. The company celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014.


Avid Reader, West End, QLD, Australia

Avid Reader started when a group of friends thought West End needed a bookstore that specialized in new, quality fiction and non-fiction. The charming bookstore hosts frequent events that include book clubs.


Honorable Mentions:

The Poetry Bookshop, Hereford, United Kingdom

Kay Craddock Antiquarian Bookseller, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Gleebooks, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Berkelouw Books, Berrima, NSW, Australia

Lesley McKay’s Bookshop, Woollahra, NSW, Australia

Muirs Bookshop and Café, Gisborne, New Zealand

Page & Blackmore, Nelson, New Zealand

Published on 29 Jul 2015