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Boston Best Independent Book Stores

October 27, 2010 10:28 AM

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Brookline Booksmith

Inside of Brookline Booksmith (credit: brooklinebooksmith.com)

New books, used books, rare books, bestsellers, obscure titles, remainders and more. For the book lover in Boston, there are treasures to be had at independently owned stores – each with its own distinct personality. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
Harvard Book Store in Cambridge

Inside Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass. (credit: harvard.com)

Harvard Bookstore

1256 Mass. Ave. (Harvard Square)
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 661-1515
www.harvard.com

Not to be confused with the Harvard Coop, this independent shop in Harvard Square offers an impressive selection and a top rate author lecture series. Looking for gently used titles or remainders? Head straight to the basement. Not sure what you want? The knowledgeable staff posts their top picks online. For the aspiring author, Harvard Book Store has a machine to print and bind your own work. However, if you’re looking for a cozy chair to sit and read, you won’t find it here.

Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass.

The children's section of Brookline Booksmith (credit: brooklinebooksmith.com)

Brookline Booksmith

279 Harvard Street (Coolidge Corner)
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 566-6660
www.brooklinebooksmith.com

This Coolidge Corner staple outlived the nearby Barnes & Noble. With a regular schedule of author signings and speakers, a wide selection of new titles, and a basement packed with discounted used books, there is something for everybody. There is also a cozy children’s area and a quirky selection of odds & ends and unique gifts.

Brattle Book Shop, bookstore in Downton Crossing Boston

The outdoor bargain lot at the Brattle Book Shop (credit: brattlebookshop.com)

Brattle Book Shop

9 West Street (Downtown Crossing)
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 542-0210
www.brattlebookshop.com

Open since 1825, the Brattle Book Shop calls itself “one of America’s oldest and largest antiquarian bookstores.” If you’re in Downtown Crossing and spot what looks like an outdoor library, you’re in the right spot. Titles start at just $1 on the outdoor discount shelves. Inside there are three more stories of used books including hard-to-find titles. Browse the rare book room and you just might spot a first edition Moby Dick.

New England Mobile Bookfair in Newton

Inside the New England Mobile Book Fair (credit: nebookfair.com)

New England Mobile Book Fair

82 Needham Street (Newton Highlands)
Newton, MA 02461
(617) 527-5817
www.nebookfair.com

It’s not mobile. It’s not a fair. It’s a giant warehouse completely covered in books – on shelves, tables and in boxes on the floor. Their new titles are offered at everyday discounts; the crowded backroom is chock full of more markdowns. Described in customer reviews as “charmingly cramped”, if you want a spot to read, pull up a corner of the floor. One must-know tip before you go: this store is organized by publisher, not author. If you’re having trouble navigating, just ask a member of the staff.

Commonwealth Books in Downtown Crossing

The fireplace inside Commonwealth Books (credit: commonwealthbooks.com)

Commonwealth Books

9 Spring Lane (Downtown Crossing)
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 338-6328
www.commonwealthbooks.com

Many lovers of prose adore the musty smell of used book stacks. This cluttered, cozy space is a book lover’s bookstore. Readers seeking hard-to-find text treasures boast of success at Commonwealth Books. It includes a downstairs bargain basement and a couple of comfy chairs in front of a little fireplace.

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