Mother Foucault’s Bookshop – Portland, Oregon

Mother Foucault’s Bookshop – Portland, Oregon

My pre-trip research on Portland, Oregon’s Mother Foucault’s Bookshop led me to some interesting descriptions. Most glowed about the enviable antiquarian stock, with some varying descriptors ranging from the negative (pretentious) to gushing (old-world charm, eclectic, cozy, high-brow) to creatively unique (it’s setup like a 1900s living room, it smells like old book glue and whiskey).  Each of these (with the unfortunate absence of the whiskey smell) played a part in my rather unusual trip. Upon arriving, the gentleman working…

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Cameron’s Books & Magazines – Portland, Oregon

Cameron’s Books & Magazines – Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon’s oldest independent bookstore, Cameron’s Books & Magazines, is in trouble. After 80 years, shop owner Jeff Frase announced in early October that the building’s new owner is terminating his lease, leaving two months to vacate. The beautiful old shop full of vintage books and a wealth of magazines is looking for a new home – fast.  Located along Third Avenue in downtown Portland, the shop opened in 1938 in another location before moving to its current spot more than…

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Powell’s City of Books – Portland, Oregon

Powell’s City of Books – Portland, Oregon

Much has been written about Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. A mainstay on “best bookstore” lists not only throughout the U.S. but the entire world, the multi-location behemoth of a store has been serving Portland since 1971 and has become deservedly described as legendary. The shop’s family-owned history began in Chicago, where Michael Powell opened a bookshop in 1970. His father, Walter, spent a summer working in the shop and was so enamored with bookshop operations that, upon…

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Speaking Volumes – Burlington, Vermont

Speaking Volumes – Burlington, Vermont

Regular readers of Bookstore Explorer know I love a good used book shop, although when I actually began thinking about how I define “good,” I wasn’t necessarily sure. A trip to Speaking Volumes in Burlington, Vermont, however, has helped to provide some clarity. The inventory is vast and varied, covering genres across the literary spectrum. Décor is eclectic and spirited, resulting in what the shop’s website calls a “cozy living room atmosphere.” The shelves are tall and jam-packed with used…

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The Flying Pig Bookstore – Shelburne, Vermont

The Flying Pig Bookstore – Shelburne, Vermont

“It’s the symbol of the impossible dream,” says Elizabeth Bluemle when describing how her shop, The Flying Pig Bookstore, got its unique name.  Elizabeth cofounded the shop along with Josie Leavitt in 1996 after moving to small-town Vermont from New York City. Originally located in Charlotte, Vermont (pronounced shar-LOT), the shop moved to its current location in nearby Shelburne thirteen years ago and has served the community ever since.  Conceived as a children’s bookstore, the pair wanted a name with child appeal…

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Phoenix Books – Burlington, Vermont

Phoenix Books – Burlington, Vermont

For bookstore explorers seeking the expanded offerings of a chain shop with the attentive customer care and community spirit of an indie, look no further than Phoenix Books, Vermont’s regional independent shop with locations in Burlington, Essex, and Rutland. Phoenix was opened in 2012 by husband-wife duo Michael DeSanto and Renee Reiner with a clear mission. “If the community is an organism, then the bookstore or library can be viewed as a vital organ of that system,” Michael told the…

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Crow Bookshop – Burlington, Vermont

Crow Bookshop – Burlington, Vermont

Located in downtown Burlington’s charming Church Street Marketplace pedestrian mall, Crow Bookshop has served as the city’s local, independent bookshop for more than two decades. The shop was opened in 1995 by Keith Terwillegar, who had worked at frontlist stores before opening up Crow, which carries a large selection of new, used and vintage titles. When stepping off the bricks of Church Street into the charming shop, visitors are greeted with hardwood floors, creative displays, and shop ladders to reach…

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Octavia Books – New Orleans, Louisiana

Octavia Books – New Orleans, Louisiana

Located in uptown New Orleans, the charming Octavia Books was voted Best Locally Owned Bookstore in Gambit’s Best of New Orleans 2018 poll, and it isn’t difficult to see why.  The shop is beautifully decorated, impressively stocked with a wealth of genres, and operated by a friendly and well-read staff that is quick to offer a recommended read or a cool place to grab lunch. (I took them up on the latter during my afternoon visit.) Octavia Books was established by Tom…

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Garden District Book Shop – New Orleans, Louisiana

Garden District Book Shop – New Orleans, Louisiana

Located inside the historic Rink, at the corner of Washington Avenue and Prytania Street in the beautiful Garden District of New Orleans, is Garden District Book Shop. The quaint bookstore packs an impressive inventory of regional works, fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, art, gardening, and several other genres into a relatively small space lovingly adorned with literary posters and artwork.  Carrying mostly new books, with some used titles here and there, one of the most impressive things about Garden District Book Shop…

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Crescent City Books – New Orleans, Louisiana

Crescent City Books – New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans’s Crescent City Books specializes in vintage, rare, and out-of-print books, plus antique prints and maps from around the world. The shop opened in 1992 and moved to its current location, across from the famous Roosevelt Hotel, in 2010. With section titles such as “Creative Non-fiction” and “Esoteric,” the shop’s inventory is vast, varied, and nicely organized throughout the large shop. Book-themed quotes are hanging throughout, as is a variety of beautiful artwork and prints. Near the back is…

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