According to the American Booksellers Association, an “independent bookstore” is an independently-owned, retail bookstore in contrast to Internet giant Amazon and bricks-and-mortar chains like Barnes and Noble and Borders . From the early days on, these independent book stores have been essential threads in the very fabric of the American community, spotlighting new literary talent, hosting notable author events. supporting free expression of authors and poets from around the world, and so much more.
Why Independent Book Stores Count
Indeed, America has celebrated the voices and accomplishments of her authors and literary set since the very beginning. Bookstores provided an outlet for authors to sell their books and for readers to make their demands and interests known. Independent bookstores, in particular, have played a leading role in promoting new and top talent so much so that in recent years independent bookstores have become tourist and celebrity haunts. City Lights in San Francisco found acclaim as the home of the Beat Poets on their way to literary acclaim. Cody’s in Berkeley became a hub of the anti-war movement. Gotham Book Mark in the Big Apple long hosted literary societies and renowned authors. Since its founding in 1973, Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle has provided over 3,000 afternoons and evenings of poetry, fiction and nonfiction topics by some of the leading and discoverable authors of the day.
Independent Book Stores Under Pressure
Unfortunately, the candle that shined brightest on the American literary scene would soon be extinguished. One by one, under enormous pressure from chain stores and, in recent years, the Internet marketplace, independent bookstores have downsized, relocated or closed. Some have been forced to create an online footprint to compete with the likes of Amazon, Borders and discount chain Books a Million. Many of these independent bookstore closures faced stiff resistance from an adoring fan base that understands the unique perspective that independents bring to the readership each and everyday. For example, when Menlo Park’s Keplers closed, the news was met with protest in the streets. As were others.
Celebrated Washington, DC Independent Book Stores
Fortunately, Washington, DC plays host to a number of independent bookstores that merit your visit. Hopefully, these independent book retailers will survive the financial downturn, online assault, and fickle consumer tastes.
Make sure you visit Presse, one of my favorite independent bookstores, in the historic Georgetown section of Washington, DC. Presse specializes in world literature and foreign cultures. Sure to become one of your stops on your literary tour of Washington, DC.
Where else to find great independent book retailers in the Nation’s Capital? Check out these Top 5 Best Independent Bookstores in Washington, DC. Sure to become among your favorites as well.
Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave. NW Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 364-1919 (local) or (800) 722-0790 (toll free)
Email: Contact email@example.com
Hours: Monday – Saturday 9am-10pm; Sunday 10am-8pm
Politics and Prose is an awesome Washington, DC-based, independent bookstore and coffeehouse, featuring events, book groups, specials, and so much more. For 25 years, Politics and Prose has made a difference with DC readers, and plans to continue long into the future. Check out Politics and Prose bookstore before you get on the Metro at Dupont Circle. Check out DC’s Politics and Prose, where superior service and unusual book choices…serve as a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books.
Kramerbooks & Afterwords
1517 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 387-1400
Hours: 7:30am-1pm Daily, 24 Hours Fri-Saturday
Since 1976, Kramerbooks has been a cultural landmark and institution in Washington, DC. A real gathering place for friends and colleagues. A place to meet authors and discuss ideas. The first bookstore-café. A late night gathering spot for 20-somethings and beyond. Something for everyone at Kramerbooks. Where everyone says, Meet you at Kramers!
Second Story Books
2000 P Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 659-8884
Hours: Open Daily 10am-10pm
Who says bookstores have to sell new books? Since 1973, Second Story Books has become one of the largest used and rare bookstores in the world. Second Story Books is yet another Washington, DC institution that is a must-visit stop on your independent bookstore tour. An awesome place that sells, consigns, repairs, and so much more. Hieroglyphics heaped in deep layers of ink, indecipherable in their mass. Strangers come here picking through faded titles, sifting through the rubble… (Former US Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, inspired by Second Story Books.)
Idle Time Books
2467 18th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009
Telephone: (202) 232-4774
Hours: Open 7 days a week, 10am-11pm
Located in Adams Morgan, Idle Time offers this exciting and diverse neighborhood 50,000 used, recent and out-of-print books, as well as greeting cards, newspapers, records and CD’s. Idle Time Books is a great place to meet friends and dip into the titles that only an independent bookseller could offer. Check out Idle Time’s three floors of books, and comfortable chairs to wile away some time.
Busboys and Poets
2021 14th Street, Washington, DC 20009
Telephone: (202) 387-7638
Hours: Sunday 9am-12pm; Monday – Thursday 8am-12pm; Friday 8am-2am; Saturday 9am-2am
Don’t expect your usual bookstore/Internet café from this independent bookstore. Busboys and Poets is a restaurant, bookstore, fair trade market and gathering place for discussions on social justice and peace. Diversity is key to Busboys and Poets’ appeal. Service is a little spotty, but it’s the independent thought that matters, right? Check out Busboys and Poets, for shared conversations over food and drink allow the progressive, artistic and literary communities to dialogue, educate and interact.
American Booksellers Association
List of Independent Book Stores by State
Northern California Independent Booksellers