From neighborhood staples to nationally-lauded destinations, Pennsylvania offers some of the best independent bookstores in the country. Bring the kids or take a much-needed break, and browse the stacks for new finds or old favorites.
Open year-round (save Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day) Baldwin’s Book Barn is a stunning literary experience that is quite difficult to describe. A five-story, 1822 building packed with 300,000 used and rare books, maps, art, antiques, and manuscripts on literally hundreds of shelves. Whether you live in Chester County or make a destination of it, a trip to Baldwin’s is simply a must do for any book lover.
For those of us who must pinch our pennies, a love of books can be an unmanageable pursuit. Enter Book Corner, Philadelphia’s low priced alternative. Indulge your epeolatry and browse their large selection of hardcover ($3-$4), and soft cover ($2-$3) titles, all while the store cats keep you quiet company. Remember to pay it forward and bring your own used books in for donation!
Amazing Books is simply the place to buy and sell used materials in Pittsburgh. Whether your love is reading or music, these dual Downtown and Squirrel Hill locations are certain to please, with plenty of new finds and old favorites.
An elegant store with impeccable service, Wellington Square Bookshop is a one stop solution for your literary and gift-giving needs. Add a locally-sourced café with coffee and goodies galore, comfortable seating areas, and a tranquil atmosphere, and Wellington Square easily earns a slot on my list.
With a stock of 20,000 new and used titles, Werner Books is a bibliophile’s fantasy come to life. Even better, the Erie store offers a Book Exchange Program, trading store credit for your gently used works. Join their monthly evening or daytime book clubs, or tag along on one of their Book Lover’s Bus Trips, which journey to other cities in search of their best independent bookstores, complete with door prizes and book giveaways.
Head House is run for book lovers, by book lovers. This devotion is clear in their Queen Village store, which was ranked “Best Bookstore” by both Philadelphia Magazine and Philadelphia Style. Careful selections and kind salespeople make for a manageable experience for even the most introverted readers among us, and events hosted both on site and off allow for a deeper exploration and appreciation of the City that Loves You Back.
Ironically housed in a converted, 1920s movie theater, a visit to the Midtown Scholar is an experience not to be missed, whether you live locally or make it a destination. Two buildings stocking 200,000 titles, new and used, as well as gallery space, and a stage for readings and concerts. Stop into on site Famous Reading Cafe and fuel up with a coffee or relax with a cup of tea.
East End Book Exchange features gently used finds, many of which are penned by local authors. Originally a roaming bookstall, this Pittsburgh locale put down permanent roots in the East End, and has been delighting locals ever since. Spend a snowy afternoon or slow morning perusing their selection, and keep an eye open for special events.
The classic browser’s bookstore, DogStar is a true find for readers of all stripes. Run by a dedicated staff who love what they do, this Lancaster location offers floor to ceiling stacks and colorful art.
As the oldest bookstore in the country (and possibly the world), Moravian books is not to be missed. They also offer a full range of events, from book readings, groups, and signings to Irish Step Dancing demonstrations, as well as a beautiful selection of Moravian and Bethlehem Stars for sale.