A busy long weekend in Chicago didn’t allow much time for bookstore exploring, but within walking distance of my Navy Pier venue was what is apparently one of downtown’s few remaining independent bookstores, after-words. And if I were only able to make it to one bookstore on my trip, this one did not disappoint. The two-story shop houses a vast inventory of over 70,000 new and used titles.
Upon entering the shop, you’ll find mostly children’s books and poetry on the main level, along with a large event space, a rare-books cabinet, some gifts and cards, and the usual table displays.
Head downstairs, though, and step into an expansive space featuring shelf after tall shelf of every genre imaginable. The inventory is well labeled and nicely organized, and the selection impressive. The blend of new and used titles means you can find plenty of books a great prices.
During my visit in April 2022, it was interesting to see a shop maintaining strict COVID-19 protocols. As most businesses begin to lift restrictions – or have already done so – after-words was still requiring face masks and had hand sanitizer at the entryway.
Outside of pandemic times, after-words hosts author events and conducts a book buyback program. The aforementioned event space is available for private parties, and after-words is equipped to sell books at off-site events as well. Special ordering is available, and a partial selection of the inventory is available to browse online.
When visiting Chicago, put after-words on your list. It is located at 23 East Illinois Street. Open daily.