Celebrate Independent Book Stores on Independence Day

Independence sure is sweet. While you’re celebrating America’s this weekend, don’t forget about your favorite independent bookstore. We’re thrilled that BookPeople made the Huffington Post’s list of “Bookstores We Love For Their Spirit of Independence.” Make sure you go vote for us and Austin’s own Domy Books if you get the chance.

I’ve been thinking about the indie bookstore tradition lately while reading Sylvia Beach’s memoir Shakespeare & Company. Beach founded this English-language bookstore in Paris in the 1920s—by herself, with a war on, mind you—and she’s basically the patron saint of independent booksellers everywhere. Her shop attracted the likes of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and most famously, James Joyce, (whose slimy, despicable Ulysses this feisty little lady had the gall to publish).  I’m dying to read the new collection of her letters to those authors and others put out by Norton this spring, which Jessa Crispin over at the BookSlut has been going on and on about lately

Shakespeare & Co is still selling books and housing writers on Paris’s Left Bank, though in a different location—Beach’s shop was closed during the Nazi occupation. They’re famous for their annual book festival. Even though it’s changed hands, it’s one of my favorite places on earth, actually.

Other indie bookstores I love, some of which made the list, include:

Crow Books in Burlington, VT

Monroe St. Books in Middlebury, VT

The Strand in New York, obviously (I prefer the location way downtown, though. Trust me.)

Biography Bookshop, which used to live in the West Village but has since moved uptown

57th St Books in Hyde Park, IL, a division of the University of Chicago’s gorgeous book-chapel at the Seminary Co-Op.

Bookman’s Alley in Evanston, IL

Also, The Millions had a nice list of their favorites a few months back.  It’s a little more West Coast-centric.

Where are your favorite independent bookstores?  Got any bookstore tourism planned for the summer?

–Jennifer  Shapland

3 thoughts on “Celebrate Independent Book Stores on Independence Day

  1. While I love Bookpeople (of course), I have to mention Politics and Prose in Washington DC. Fantastic atmosphere and a good mix of author events from those in political circles to popular authors.

  2. Shakespeare and Co. in Paris was the best book buying experience I’ve ever had, I was 16 at the time.
    But close 2nd is shopping at Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park, Ca. They’re relatively new, 2 years i think. They get better each time i visit.

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