14 Authors Share Their Favorite Indie Bookstores

On August 29, over 600 bookstores around the U.S. will be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day! Join us in giving support to the stores that always welcome us readers with open arms. We love any excuse to recognize the incredible booksellers and staff members who make these stores places where bookworms can find their new favorite book, attend events, and discover their local reading community. Participating bookstores will be hosting virtual events all day long, so clear your schedule! In honor of the day, we asked 14 authors to share their favorite indie bookstore with us.


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“Stepping into Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia is like slipping into my favorite worn-soft hoodie. There’s something warm and comforting about the copper floor made of pennies that leads to a ‘We Love Local Authors’ section or cozy author events where no one feels like a stranger. It’s the familiarity of finding young readers planted on the floor, books in their laps, falling in love with words. Or how every ‘Hello!’ from a staff member sounds a lot like ‘Welcome home,’ whether you’re a first-timer or a regular. It’s unforgettable magic I’ll always return to.” —Julian Winters, author of The Summer of Everything


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“The slogan for One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia is ‘Where we take books, wine, and chocolate more seriously than we take ourselves!’ and it sums them up perfectly. The booksellers here are joyful, irreverent, and fiercely feminist. Their passion for books is obvious: They hand-sell like a friend making a book rec. Their chocolate is… just trust me and get the chocolate bourbon caramel bar. My signing event there last fall was followed by a field trip with the staff to the Maryland Renaissance Festival—huzzah! Preorders of my next release, Well Played, made through One More Page come with a signed bookmark!” —Jen DeLuca, author of Well Played


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“The warmth, enthusiasm, and personality of the staff at Once Upon A Time Bookstore is unlike any other store I’ve visited. The charm and efficiency with which they stock their cozy space makes every book feel special, and the staff (and bookstore cat!) is always close at hand. Their online ordering system is organized and fast, often with personal thank you notes tucked into the confirmation emails. I got a crush on this store as a reader, but fell in love as an author. They’re so invested in diverse, inclusive debut books of every kind. Please support this gem!” —Jordan Ifueko, author of Raybearer


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“Book Soup is a sparkling gem on Sunset Boulevard, below the Hollywood Hills where I lived for many years with my husband and sons. Its cozy aisles lead book lovers on a labyrinth of literary discoveries and truly special gifts. They carry signed copies of The Ninja Daughter and The Ninja’s Blade, the second book in the Lily Wong series. They hosted a magical event for my debut and are hosting a virtual event for me in conversation with Rachel Howzell Hall on September 3. Whether in person or online, Book Soup booksellers truly care.” —Tori Eldridge, author of The Ninja’s Blade


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“I’ve attended tons of events and bought a countless number of books (in-store and online) from this beautifully curated bookshop. When I had to choose a cover for Loathe at First Sight, I agonized over the decision. I went to The Ripped Bodice to see what other covers looked like and one of their booksellers walked around with me that day, and we discussed what colors and cover designs would work well for this book. I ended up with a wonderful option and it speaks to what kind of service you’ll get at The Ripped Bodice: It’s always above and beyond, and they know their shit.” —Suzanne Park, author of Loathe at First Sight


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“Growing up, we didn’t have much money, so a trip to the bookstore was a special occasion. Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan was my bookstore, not just for their huge selection of books, but they also carried CDs. I worked at McDonald’s in high school, saving all the money I made for college, and the only things I would splurge on were books and CDs of my favorite musicals—and they had a glorious selection. To this day, whenever I stop into Schuler Books, or their sister store (Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor), it still feels like a special occasion.” —Jeni McFarland, author of The House of Deep Water


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“I might not live in the Bronx, New York anymore but The Lit. Bar will always be my bookstore. Before they had a brick and mortar store, owner Noëlle Santos was my bookseller for the New York launch of my 2017 debut The Education of Margot Sanchez. Last year, she allowed us to celebrate my second novel Dealing in Dreams at The Lit. Bar before its official opening. The event was standing room only with people trying to get in! I’ll always support Noëlle and The Lit. Bar, the only Bronx bookstore in a borough that sorely needs it.” —Lilliam Rivera, author of Never Look Back


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“Whenever I go to Skylight Books, I run into someone I know. In a city with eight million people, running into someone I know and having a chat, as though we live in the same small town, has never felt anything short of a miracle—the kind of small, everyday miracle you get when you create a community hub. This kind of modern-day piazza was what I was going for when I sat down to write my latest book, This Is All Your Fault, and re-create the feeling of an indie bookstore. Skylight Books has this magic. A place that feels like you’ve been there before, like it’s always known you. Where you browse the shelves, looking for books, yes. But also where you sit under the indoor tree and listen as someone reads from their book. Where you gossip by the register and update someone on what’s been going on in your life, if they hadn’t heard already. It’s a place that makes you want to stay a while. It’s a place that lets you linger. It’s a place that makes you feel at home.” —Aminah Mae Safi, author of This Is All Your Fault


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“My favorite indie bookstore is Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They have a friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable staff. The store is large enough to offer a variety of selections—including several romance titles and a wide range of books written by BIPOC authors. They also have a great little selection of used books, including beloved classics. Flyleaf hosts lots of author events—including the author panels they’ve done for each year of Bookstore Romance Day. The store is nearly an hour’s drive from me, but it’s always worth the visit.” —Reese Ryan, author of A Reunion of Rivals


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“Our family has a tradition of birthday books. Every year, when one of my girls has a birthday, we head over to Joseph-Beth Booksellers and my daughters get to pick out any book in the whole store that they desire. We’ve spent as many as three hours picking out a book, to the delight of the booksellers. We’ll often end up with more, but that one no-holds-barred book takes some hard decision making! And Joseph-Beth’s amazing selection of children’s books doesn’t make it any easier. Admittedly, I’m also in trouble with the fantastic YA and adult sections!” —Intisar Khanani, author of Thorn


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“One of my favorite indie bookstores is a little shop sequestered in Rhinebeck, New York. Oblong Books & Music—specifically the Rhinebeck store—has such a cute and fun atmosphere, I want to stay there from opening to close. But what makes this bookstore truly magical are the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep it running, from the owner and manager all the way down to the high school part-timers. You know when you just walk into a store and it feels like home? It truly is a rare and wonderful gift, and Oblong Books & Music understands that sort of magic.” —Ashley Poston, author of Bookish and the Beast


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“Before the pandemic, I visited Dog Eared Books (and its sister, Alley Cat Books) nearly every week. I didn’t always buy a book, though often I did—it’s the collection of small press books and local zines in particular that made leaving empty handed difficult. Happily, they’ve opened their doors for browsing again, and seem set to remain a beloved neighborhood fixture for years to come.” —Shruti Swamy, author of A House is a Body

“No exaggeration: I love all independent bookstores. But The Concord Bookshop is the store in my hometown, the shop where I fell in love with Babar, Amelia Bedelia, and all of Judy Blume’s books. At once intimate and spacious, packed with books of the history, literature, environmentalism, and philosophies born in this town, as well as the latest bestsellers and cult favorites, The Concord Bookshop is a quiet, calming, serious (but not stodgy) store. It’s a store with an area to sit and page through books, and another to read to children. A place that truly understands and treasures readers.” —Heidi Pitlor, author of Impersonation

“Growing up in southeastern Kentucky, the closest thing I had to a bookstore was a used furniture shop with a shelf of Christian pamphlets in the corner. So Read Spotted Newt in Hazard, Kentucky is a literal dream come true thanks to owner Mandi Fugate Sheffel. At 150-square feet, the shop brims with Appalachian classics, recent releases, comics, children’s stories, and artwork from local artisans. It is home to author events and book club meetings that both celebrate our rich Appalachian literary tradition while welcoming new generations of readers and writers.” —Ashley Blooms, author of Every Bone a Prayer

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.

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