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12 Local Bookstores to Keep Every Bookworm's Shelves Stocked

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Bored of the predictable best sellers at your local Barnes & Noble? Given our region's literary history and brainiac universities, it's only right that Boston and Cambridge are full of indie bookstores. In map form, we've compiled some favorites on both side of the Charles, many of which have longstanding relationships with authors and the neighboring community. And for the budget-conscious, rest easy knowing that several of these stores stock top notch and rare used books. Now, who's curling up with a coffee and a new read this weekend?


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1. Porter Square Books

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25 White Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 491-2220
Visit Website
Tucked into a huge shopping plaza, Porter Square Books is a refuge for readers who like their store owners local and their event schedule packed. The staff here is quick to give a recommendation and the children's section boasts story hours and a program called Fresh Ink, allowing kids and teens the chance to read books before they are published. Another strong community link is a consignment program designed to allow local self-published authors a chance to sell in-store. [Photo]

2. Bryn Mawr Book Store

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353 Huron Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Bryan Mawr has quite a nifty operation over in Huron Village. The bookstore was founded by alumni of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and is staffed by volunteers, accepting books only through donation. All the proceeds of the store provide scholarships for New England students of the college. Why not help something learn while educating yourself on a topic of interest? [Photo]

3. Harvard Book Store

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1256 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 661-1515
Visit Website
Block out a chunk of time when you visit this landmark indie bookseller, founded in 1932, which contrary to its name has no affiliation with Harvard University. Readers can pore over the latest bestselling titles or poke around an extensive selection of used books—and then maybe stay for one of the many author lectures in a packed event series schedule. A history of innovation includes eco-friendly bike delivery in the area and a book-making robot to aid in self publishing. [Photo]

4. Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Inc.

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6 Plympton Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-4648
Visit Website
Rumor has it that Grolier is the oldest poetry-dedicated bookshop in the country, opening in 1927 with just 400 square feet of space. While it may be small, it is loaded to the brim and linked to bigshots like E. E. Cummings, Allan Ginsberg, and T. S. Eliot. It remains relevant in poetry circles with regular events and readings, ties to Harvard, and continuously stocking obscure international work. [Photo]

5. Lorem Ipsum Books

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1299 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 497-7669
Visit Website
This Inman shop caters to the Harvard and MIT audiences it sits between, with a browsable mix of used books in anthropology, mathematics, transportation, urban planning, classics, and typography. The store cleverly marks down its inventory on bad weather days and has an event calendar to keep customers coming back (even in rain, snow, and sleet). [Photo]

6. Rodney's Bookstore

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698 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 876-6467
Visit Website
Rodney's bills itself as having more than just books—but its selection of used and discounted new titles is also noteworthy. An in-store large-scale print can make posters and inexpensive pine shelving units are available to organize your reading haul. Explore a sample of the current inventory on their website if you'd like to shop from your own couch. [Photo]

7. Brattle Book Shop

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9 West Street
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 542-0210
Visit Website
Brattle is a place where book lovers are guaranteed to freak out: Over a quarter million books, maps, prints, and postcards from all fields and time periods are in this three-story Downtown Crossing space. The specialties here span from general used books to out-of-print titles, as well as first editions, collectibles, and fine leather bindings in a "Rare Book Room" on the third floor. Also be sure to shop the sale lot adjacent to the giant-pencil adorned storefront. [Photo]

8. Raven Used Books

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263 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 578-9000
Visit Website
Raven has received much praise for its used book selection (primarily scholarly and literary titles), with its original store in Harvard Square. This Newbury Street space is certainly brighter than its garden-level predecessor, and conveniently located on a popular shopping route. Each store adds about 1000 books weekly and prices anywhere from 50% to 80% off the original cover price. [Photo]

9. Trident Booksellers & Cafe

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338 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 267-8688
Visit Website
Trident has nailed the bookstore-slash-cafe on Newbury Street, with an award-winning magazine selection and plenty of new and discounted books that pair nicely with brunch. The success of a "Mom and Pop" store in such a high-rent, commercial neighborhood does not seem to deter the owner from cultivating a strong fanbase through author talks and trivia nights (obviously you need to show off the facts you've been reading about!). [Photo]

10. Brookline Booksmith

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279 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 566-6660
Visit Website
This award-winning bookstore in charming Coolidge Corner is much more extensive than it looks from the street. Over 50 years old, the shop is distinguished by its helpful staff, events ranging from grad students reading poetry to best-selling author series, a used book basement, and a monthly book club going 10 years strong. It's a true neighborhood center drawing shoppers from all walks of life. [Photo]

11. Tres Gatos

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470 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02130
(617) 477-4851
Visit Website
A bookstore-meets-tapas restaurant hybrid, Tres Gatos is a true cultural hub for JP, also housing a record collection and live music performances. The space is small, cozy, and hip, begging guests to peruse the shelves with or without a table reservation. [Photo]

1. Porter Square Books

25 White Street, Cambridge, MA 02140
Tucked into a huge shopping plaza, Porter Square Books is a refuge for readers who like their store owners local and their event schedule packed. The staff here is quick to give a recommendation and the children's section boasts story hours and a program called Fresh Ink, allowing kids and teens the chance to read books before they are published. Another strong community link is a consignment program designed to allow local self-published authors a chance to sell in-store. [Photo]
25 White Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

2. Bryn Mawr Book Store

353 Huron Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Bryan Mawr has quite a nifty operation over in Huron Village. The bookstore was founded by alumni of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and is staffed by volunteers, accepting books only through donation. All the proceeds of the store provide scholarships for New England students of the college. Why not help something learn while educating yourself on a topic of interest? [Photo]
353 Huron Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

3. Harvard Book Store

1256 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Block out a chunk of time when you visit this landmark indie bookseller, founded in 1932, which contrary to its name has no affiliation with Harvard University. Readers can pore over the latest bestselling titles or poke around an extensive selection of used books—and then maybe stay for one of the many author lectures in a packed event series schedule. A history of innovation includes eco-friendly bike delivery in the area and a book-making robot to aid in self publishing. [Photo]
1256 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

4. Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Inc.

6 Plympton Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Rumor has it that Grolier is the oldest poetry-dedicated bookshop in the country, opening in 1927 with just 400 square feet of space. While it may be small, it is loaded to the brim and linked to bigshots like E. E. Cummings, Allan Ginsberg, and T. S. Eliot. It remains relevant in poetry circles with regular events and readings, ties to Harvard, and continuously stocking obscure international work. [Photo]
6 Plympton Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

5. Lorem Ipsum Books

1299 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
This Inman shop caters to the Harvard and MIT audiences it sits between, with a browsable mix of used books in anthropology, mathematics, transportation, urban planning, classics, and typography. The store cleverly marks down its inventory on bad weather days and has an event calendar to keep customers coming back (even in rain, snow, and sleet). [Photo]
1299 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

6. Rodney's Bookstore

698 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
Rodney's bills itself as having more than just books—but its selection of used and discounted new titles is also noteworthy. An in-store large-scale print can make posters and inexpensive pine shelving units are available to organize your reading haul. Explore a sample of the current inventory on their website if you'd like to shop from your own couch. [Photo]
698 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

7. Brattle Book Shop

9 West Street, Boston, MA 02111
Brattle is a place where book lovers are guaranteed to freak out: Over a quarter million books, maps, prints, and postcards from all fields and time periods are in this three-story Downtown Crossing space. The specialties here span from general used books to out-of-print titles, as well as first editions, collectibles, and fine leather bindings in a "Rare Book Room" on the third floor. Also be sure to shop the sale lot adjacent to the giant-pencil adorned storefront. [Photo]
9 West Street
Boston, MA 02111

8. Raven Used Books

263 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116
Raven has received much praise for its used book selection (primarily scholarly and literary titles), with its original store in Harvard Square. This Newbury Street space is certainly brighter than its garden-level predecessor, and conveniently located on a popular shopping route. Each store adds about 1000 books weekly and prices anywhere from 50% to 80% off the original cover price. [Photo]
263 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116

9. Trident Booksellers & Cafe

338 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02115
Trident has nailed the bookstore-slash-cafe on Newbury Street, with an award-winning magazine selection and plenty of new and discounted books that pair nicely with brunch. The success of a "Mom and Pop" store in such a high-rent, commercial neighborhood does not seem to deter the owner from cultivating a strong fanbase through author talks and trivia nights (obviously you need to show off the facts you've been reading about!). [Photo]
338 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115

10. Brookline Booksmith

279 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA 02446
This award-winning bookstore in charming Coolidge Corner is much more extensive than it looks from the street. Over 50 years old, the shop is distinguished by its helpful staff, events ranging from grad students reading poetry to best-selling author series, a used book basement, and a monthly book club going 10 years strong. It's a true neighborhood center drawing shoppers from all walks of life. [Photo]
279 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446

11. Tres Gatos

470 Centre Street, Boston, MA 02130
A bookstore-meets-tapas restaurant hybrid, Tres Gatos is a true cultural hub for JP, also housing a record collection and live music performances. The space is small, cozy, and hip, begging guests to peruse the shelves with or without a table reservation. [Photo]
470 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02130