Explore Chicago’s Buy Local Guide: Independent Bookstores

Browse thousands of used books at Myopic Bookstore in Wicker Park.Start checking off your holiday shopping list! Explore Chicago encourages you to support local businesses during this 2011 holiday season as part of  a city-wide “Buy Local” campaign. From children’s titles to one-of-a-kind artist publications to bestselling fiction, read Chicago authors and buy a variety of literature for your loved ones by checking out the following Chicago-owned bookstores. 

The Book Cellar: Discover a unique 2-in-1 bookstore and cozy café serving coffee and wine in the heart of Lincoln Square, hosting events such as Essay Fiesta and Local Author Night. (4736 N. Lincoln Ave, Lincoln Square)

57th Street Books: A Michelle Obama favorite, this 26-year-old bookstore, part of the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Inc., is a visually colorful nook with endless stacks and a vast collection children’s and cook books. (1301 E. 57th St, Hyde Park)

Newberry Library Bookstore: Set within the historic Newberry Library, founded in 1887, the Newberry Library bookstore compliments the library’s collection. The bookstore’s specialties include American Studies, Medieval and Renaissance History, Literature, and books about Chicago and the Midwest, to name a few. After you’ve done some browsing, make sure to check out the Library’s non-circulating collection of rare books and maps, or one of this always FREE attraction’s special exhibitions. (60 W. Walton St, Gold Coast)

Women and Children First: One of the largest feminist bookstores in the country, Women and Children First has 30,000 books by and about women, as well as an extensive selection of children’s books and gay and lesbian fiction and non-fiction. The store also hosts lively book clubs and readings by renowned female authors. (5233 N. Clark St, Andersonville)

Sandmeyer’s: Family-owned and operated since 1982, Sandmeyer’s Bookstore has been an independent neighborhood institution in the historic Printing House Row District for over 25 years. A true “mom-and-pop” shop, the store contains a large and diverse selection including a strong collection of fiction, children’s, and Chicago-themed books. (714 S. Dearborn St, Printers Row)

Quimby’s: Quimby’s features unusual, underground, and often one-of-a-kind publications such as self-published, small and independent press books, magazines, zines, body art, and underground comics. The name of the shop was inspired by Quimby the Mouse, a comic strip by renowned graphic novelist Chris Ware, who also designed the store’s logo. (1854 W. North Ave, Wicker Park)

Myopic Books: With three floors of books stacked from floor to ceiling (about 800,000 editions), Myopic is one of Chicago’s oldest and largest used bookstores. They also have a very curious piece of memorabilia: Charles Bukowski’s “last breath”. Learn more about this curious artifact by completing the “Charles Bukowski’s Last Breath” challenge, part of the Explore Wicker Park Trek for SCVNGR. (1564 N. Milwaukee Ave, Wicker Park)

Open Books: Shop for a great cause! Buy a book and help a child learn to read. Purchases from this colorful used bookstore benefit the non-profit organization’s literacy programs. (213 W. Institute Pl, River North)

Barbara’s Bookstore: In business since the 1960s, Barbara’s Bookstore has earned a reputation in Chicago for it’s personalized service, amazing author event schedule and great book selection. Check it out and see why it’s been named by the Chicago Tribune as one of the 100 best things about the city. (1218 S. Halsted St, Little Italy & several other locations,)

Chicago Architecture Foundation Bookstore: The Chicago Architecture Foundation sells much more than solely architecture-related merchandise including kitchen gadgets, stationary, and scientific toys. Browse to your heart’s content inside its design gift shop and check out a plethora of titles ranging from architecture to children’s books, maps/guides, and Chicago-themed books. (224 S. Michigan Ave, Loop)

The Museum Shop of The Art Insitute of Chicago: Browse the Art Institute’s galleries, then head to their bookshops, which offer a comprehensive range of art titles, as well as artistic stationary and gifts. (111 S. Michigan Ave, Loop)

Unabridged Bookstore: An independent neighborhood bookstore, Unabridged Bookstore is known for its specialization in gay and lesbian titles, but carries something for the book lover in anyone. (3251 N. Broadway St, Boystown)

Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Inc.: At this bookstore, you can find historic books, documents, photographs and artifacts related to the history of the U.S., particularly pertaining to Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and presidential and military history. (357 W. Chicago Ave, River North)


For more information about Local First Chicago‘s UnWrap Chicago: Eat, Drink & Buy Local 2011 campaign, visit www.unwrapchicago.org.

For more information on shopping and dining in Chicago’s neighborhoods, visit www.explorechicago.org/neighborhoods.

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