The Ultimate Guide to Wondrous Independent Bookstores - Atlas Obscura Lists

The Ultimate Guide to Wondrous Independent Bookstores

We think book havens are heaven.

Some things never change, technology be damned. Books can be downloaded and read on your phone or other device, or listened to in the car, but nothing beats walking into a bookstore. We’re far from the golden age of the bookstore and many have shuttered in the face of technology, but there are still hundreds of independent and secondhand bookstores that are more than just relics. The smell of paper and wooden shelves, the sight of endless rows of spines, the thrill of discovering something you didn’t expect. Our favorite bookstores aren’t just a bibliophile’s dream, but many are also architectural wonders, or home to amazing proprietors, or specialized in a delightful way. Some are palaces to reading, others are more like amazing, book-lined closets. 

In a Victorian train station in Alnwick, England, is a bookstore that lives up to its name: Barter Books. There, customers can exchange their old books for in-store credit. The collection is so vast that it has been described as the “British Library of secondhand books.” Meanwhile in the small farming town of Hobart, New York, visitors will find more bookstores than restaurants. This booktown was created by Don Dales, a local entrepreneur who leased vacated buildings to independent book dealers. Along Hobart’s main street are six independent bookstores, all within walking distance. From one of the oldest used bookstores in the United States to a Parisian tradition that dates back to the Renaissance, join us for a wondrous journey through these delightful independent bookstores all over the world.