Indie Bookstores in Chicago that You Need to Check Out

When you’re in Chicago and looking for a good read mixed with that classic bookstore smell and atmosphere, skip Barnes and Noble and stick to the indie scene instead. You’ll find collector’s books, cheap classics, and brand new books from local, national, and international writers, and can attend readings, get your book signed, grab coffee, and more.

Ravenswood Books

Flickr user, Kaleb Nyquist

Flickr user, Kaleb Nyquist

This used bookstore not only has an incredible selection and a knowledgeable and passionate staff, but also hosts events like signings, readings, and musical performances.

Bookman’s Corner: Medium, Rare, Well Down


via Flickr user Viewminder

Let’s be honest here, this place gets a lot of points for the name alone. It’s also an absolute disaster organizationally, but that adds to the charm. You have to tiptoe above a stack of books to speak with the guy at the counter–in a good way.

The Book Cellar


via Flickr user lobstar28

This place can be a bit pricey, but they often host local authors, are home to an enormous selection of books, and have a cafe. If you enjoy sipping wine and talking books, then look no further.



via Flickr user get directly down

Ask any writer or literary-minded individual about the Chicago indie book scene and one of the first places they’ll bring up is Quimby’s. They not only have an incredible selection of used and new books, but also a lot of DIY mags by local artists and writers.



via Flickr user leah

Discover a hidden gem in this Lakeview staple, which allows you to request and order books online. Bonus: their events schedule is always impressive.

57th Street

Flickr user, supafly

Flickr user, supafly

57th Street Books in Hyde Park gives Obama’s neighborhood an even better name. The front windows will have any book-lover drooling. The selection is insane, and the atmosphere is just as good.

Uncharted Books


via Flickr user snickclunk

Located in Logan Square, Uncharted is a great spot for finding a used book on the cheap. The vibe is low key and relaxed, and they often host events, too.

Sandmeyer’s Bookstore

Printer’s Row is an historic area for book publishing and writing. Sandmeyer’s is no exception, and it’s tucked scenically into the Chicago skyline in the South Loop. If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to check it out.

Open Books

Back Camera

via Flickr user Amy Guth

This nonprofit establishment is both adult and kid-friendly. Their West Loop location is a personal favorite, and they also host events at both their storefront and all around town!

Powell’s Bookstore

Flickr user, Eric Fischer

Flickr user, Eric Fischer

This place has two locations, but they also host events all over the city as well. They often have a line going around the block for a writer or a release, and have awesome sales.


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