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Author: BookstoreExplore

after-words – Chicago, Illinois

after-words – Chicago, Illinois

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…

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Book Notes – Pikeville, Kentucky

Book Notes – Pikeville, Kentucky

Since opening Pikeville, Kentucky’s Book Notes in the fall of 2000, owners Toby Weingarten and his mother, Glenda Hall, have seen a lot of local businesses come and go and the rise of online shopping and e-reading. But through it all – even a global pandemic that closed their doors for several months in 2020 – the small shop has persevered.  Located in a shopping plaza in the rural town, Book Notes is warm and welcoming, yet sparsely stocked while I was…

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Argo Books – Buckhannon, West Virginia

Argo Books – Buckhannon, West Virginia

Jon Benjamin never intended to open a bookstore. When the professional graphic designer relocated from the D.C. Metro area to his wife’s hometown of Buckhannon, West Virginia, he began teaching graphic design at the local college. Now, four years later, he’s operating one of the state’s newest book destinations: Argo Books. “When we moved here, I thought I’d try teaching – it’ll be fun,” he says. “But I was overwhelmed teaching fulltime.” It took a while, but once Jon found his…

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Old Town Books – Alexandria, Virginia

Old Town Books – Alexandria, Virginia

Located in the heart of historic Old Town Alexandria, the aptly named Old Town Books is a quaint, intimate general interest shop carrying a nice selection of carefully curated new titles. Founded by Ally Kirkpatrick, the shop began as a short-term pop-up in 2018 thanks to a local economic development program that helps new businesses get a start in available storefronts. The venture was a success. Six months in, Kirkpatrick had hosted several books events, developed fruitful local partnerships, and…

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Second Story Books – Washington, D.C.

Second Story Books – Washington, D.C.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” So reads one of the many literary quotes adorning the walls of Washington, D.C.’s Second Story Books, an impressive used bookstore specializing in rare titles and boasting a massive inventory. In fact, it’s been touted as one of the best shops in the D.C. area and cited by USA Today as one of the best bookshops in the country.  Purchased by Allan Stypeck in 1973, Second Story is D.C.’s oldest…

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The Company of Books – Alexandria, Virginia

The Company of Books – Alexandria, Virginia

One of the D.C. area’s newest offerings is The Company of Books in Alexandria, an impressively stocked used shop that opened its doors in 2020 and operates as a non-profit organization, relying on a couple of paid staff members and dedicated volunteers for its day-to-day operations.  The store was founded by Donald Alexander, the former owner of Book Bank, in an attempt to create a neighborhood space for literature. When first deciding to open the shop, Alexander put out a call on…

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Kramers – Washington, D.C.

Kramers – Washington, D.C.

I mentioned in a previous blog that Politics and Prose might be considered a flagship bookstore in Washington, D.C., but when asking locals what stores to visit, Kramers was mentioned just as often. This landmark shop in the city’s Dupont Circle neighborhood boasts not only books but also a restaurant, bar and popular event space.  The city’s oldest independent bookstore, Kramers opened its doors in 1976 as the first bookstore/café in the city with a “commitment to providing our patrons with access…

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Politics and Prose at the Wharf – Washington, D.C.

Politics and Prose at the Wharf – Washington, D.C.

Before ever visiting a Washington, D.C., bookshop, I was aware of Politics and Prose. I suppose if the city were to have a flagship indie, this would be it? (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!) The website calls itself the city’s premier indie bookshop and cultural hub, operating three locations. The original store was opened in 1984 by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade, staffed by the two of them and a part-time evening seller. The name was meant to…

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Bridge Street Books – Washington, D.C.

Bridge Street Books – Washington, D.C.

Founded in 1980, Bridge Street Books is Washington, D.C.’s second oldest bookshop in operation. (Kramer’s beat them by a hair.) The Georgetown staple is one I discovered while trekking around town in search of bookstores, and it proved to be one of the most memorable shops on my D.C. bookstore crawl. As I approached from across the street on a damp, chilly afternoon, its aged brick façade and old windows conjured images of a musty shop with tall stacks of used books…

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Blacksburg Books – Blacksburg, Virginia

Blacksburg Books – Blacksburg, Virginia

Blacksburg Books in Blacksburg, Virginia, opened its doors in the summer of 2021, filling a much-needed void in the downtown district as the city’s only independent bookstore.  The vision for the shop arose when local attorney Laurie Kelly was gifted the 1,000+ personal library of a recently deceased neighbor. Seeing that as a sign to make her long-held personal dream of opening a bookshop a reality, she then began amassing additional titles. When the shop opened last August, Kelly had…

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