Most things can be bought online these days, books included. With the invention of Kindles and online newspapers, bookstores have some competition... but bookstores are more than just businesses, they are a place for University students to study with a large latte or a hub for first dates. It’s an atmosphere that offers stimulation and peace. For the people who still love that old-book smell, finding a good bookstore is the ideal Sunday afternoon.
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While big chains like Barnes and Noble are always fun to browse, it’s the independent bookstores that don’t get nearly enough credit. Here are 10 of the best book stores in the Southern United States that are just as good, if not better than Barnes and Noble!
10 Dickson St. Bookshop
This bookshop located in the heart of Fayetteville’s Entertainment District has been open since 1978. Its central location is great for visitors to the city and is close to the University of Arkansas campus as well. Dickson St. Bookshop offers thousands of books onsite ranging from literary classics to rising authors. They buy from their clients as well, providing a place for donations of well-loved secondhand books. With its variety of books and a cozy atmosphere, this shop is not only one of the best in the south, but one of the best in the country!
9 Books and Books at the Studios of Key West
With more than a couple locations for Books & Books shops around South Florida, The location at The Studios Of Key West is the best one. While all the locations carry pretty much the same stock, Judy Bloom and her husband George Cooper founded the one at The Studios of Key West. There are books in this shop that are personally recommended by Judy herself. This bookstore is also an independent non-profit, meaning they do take donations and encourage them so that they can continue to keep this bookstore alive for all their dedicated clients.
8 Charis Books
Charis Books in Atlanta, Georgia does an amazing job of providing socially relevant books to support people of all ages, genders, sexualities and more. They’ve been giving a voice to their clients since 1974. They call themselves an independent feminist bookstore although the diversity in their products includes children’s books, cultural studies, lesbian, gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer literature as well. Charis Books does something a lot of other bookstores don’t; provide a safe space where every single human being, despite their differences, can find something applicable to their lives.
7 Alabama Booksmith
What started off as a second-hand book shop is now one of the most respected bookstores in Alabama. This all changed on June 21st in 1995 when Don Keith, author of The Forever Season, read at this bookstore which led thousands of other writers to follow his lead. These readings and signings are what first put Alabama Booksmith on the map.
In 2012, every single book copy in this bookstore was signed and they continue to fill their shelves with signed copies to this day. Although this store did change location within the state a few times, it can now be found in Birmingham, Alabama.
6 Joseph-Beth Booksellers
This chain of bookstores has multiple locations, but their store in Lexington, Kentucky is rumored to be the best one. Twenty-five years in the book scene and Joseph-Beth Booksellers has definitely made an impact on their community. They’ve donated more than $175,000 to local charities as well as hosted many authors, celebrities, politicians and other public figures.
Their in-house café Bronte Bistro served fresh food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It provides a peaceful setting for casual business meetings or makes for a nice personal day full of good books and good quality food.
5 Faulkner House Books
It’s not hard to guess where this New Orleans-based bookshop got their name. Founded 15 years ago on William Faulkner’s birthday, it’s been a successful secondhand bookstore ever since. Located in the French Quarter, this bookshop is visited by many tourists as well as the locals. Faulkner House Books specializes in everything Faulkner but they also have a variety of titles to choose from. They hire passionate staff members who go on "buying trips" around the world to bring back relevant books for this tiny shop. They are always willing to take on special requests and help their clients find what they’re looking for.
4 Square Books
Square Books in Mississippi are known for their wide selection of literary fiction, southern writers and children’s books. This shop has 3 locations, all about 100 feet apart located in a very historic part of town. Mississippi has been home to many famous writers which are celebrated at Square Books along with its rich history.
In 2003, Square Books decided to grow their children’s literature section, and so the second location was born. The 3rd location lends itself to lifestyle and leisure books including books about travel, culinary arts, photography, art and more.
3 Parnassus Books
Any Greek mythology fans reading this can probably already guess why this shop named itself Parnassus. In short, Mount Parnassus was the home of learning and literature according to Greek mythology. Parnassus Books is the Mount Parnassus of Nashville, Tennessee. This shop is anything but ordinary. It travels around Nashville in what they call, a bookmobile. They also have a location in airports, providing travelers with good reads. Lastly, they’re an online magazine! Their site Musing has staff-picked reading lists, author interviews and much more. Parnassus Books finds itself bringing books to the population in many different mediums. They truly are the home of literature in Tennessee!
BookPeople is the largest independent bookstore in Texas. It was also named Bookstore of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly in 2005. It’s been open since 1970 and has hosted visits from public figures like former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. This bookstore is definitely a tourist attraction in Austin, Texas. Some features that BookPeople include to make their shop all the more unique and inviting is their CoffeePeople café and array of signed books for various genres, including kids! It’s the perfect place for a book-lover to spend their afternoon off.
1 Chop Suey Books
Chop Suey Books was founded in 2002 in Richmond, Virginia. Its location was originally George’s Chop Suey, a restaurant in the 1970s. The sign was still attached to the wall when this bookstore bought the place and adopted the name along with the space. This store’s vision was to combine many different art-related genres such as photography, architecture, design, poetry, film and more. They buy gently used books from their clients, offering cash or store credit as a way to encourage people to find their old books a new home. The fun and colorful interior design along with its unique inventory is what has attracted many locals and tourists over the years.