In honor of Independent Bookstore Day this May, I wanted to share some of my favorite bookstores across Pennsylvania and give some reasons for why you should spend some bucks at these places. I’ll also note that according to that Washington Post link I shared, since 2009, indie bookstores have increased nationwide by 25 percent. That is indeed something worth celebrating, especially since so many people declared bookstores would be dead by now, once Borders went out of business in 2009 and Barnes n Noble closed a slew of stores. Maybe the gradual demise of the behemoths led to the increase in indie bookstores. Regardless, indie bookstores provide important community spaces, so their growth is worth nothing.
With that said, here are some of my favorites:
Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Harrisburg PA. This store sells new and used books as well as some oddities and rarities. Simply put, this shop is HUGE and features thousands and thousands of books. Each genre, including poetry, features walls and walls of shelves. Furthermore, the staff is helpful and friendly and can help you find the book you’re looking for, or order it for you if it’s not in stock. Next to The Strand, this is the biggest bookstore I’ve ever been to. Furthermore, the Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel runs a wonderful reading series every Thursday, which includes a featured reader and open mic. Check it out!
Farley’s Bookshop, New Hope, PA New Hope is a gorgeous Philadelphia suburb with a lot of colonial history. On its main street is Farley’s. I included this shop on the list because it has one of the largest indie press collections for fiction and poetry that I’ve ever encountered and handwritten notes about each press taped to the bookshelves. This display is front and center of the store. Also, check out the monthly poetry reading series, which includes a feature and then open reading. Make sure to pet the store cat, too!
Doylestown Bookshop Doylestown, PA Doylestown is another quaint Philly ‘burb. Though the bookshop has reduced its stock in recent years, it can’t be understated how much local authors are welcome to do events, including monthly poetry readings, book signings, and discussion groups.
Sellers Books & Fine Art, Jim Thrope, PA This is one of the finest second-hand bookstores I’ve ever been to, period. Enough said. Oh, and it has a store cat.
This is my list, and I’ll also add Caroll & Caroll’s in Stroudsburg and the Book barn in West Chester. Let’s make sure that we celebrate and shop at the indies as much as possible.