5 Indie Bookstores To Get Your Read On in Pittsburgh

Image courtesy of @belletrist on Instagram

With so many people ordering and buying books online and big box bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders going out of business, it has become more important than ever to make the extra effort to support smaller, independent, local bookstores.

And us Pittsburghers are lucky enough to have several spots to choose from, all with their own quirks and wonderfully curated selections.

So if you ever find yourself needing a new book, or simply want to browse and find something unexpected, consider stopping by one of these places instead of giving your dollar to Amazon. You might find your new favorite bookstore!

1. City of Asylum Bookstore

40 W. North Avenue | Northside | cityofasylumbooks.org

City of Asylum is a project that provides refuge to writers and allows for them to continue to write without fear of repercussions. The project also runs a bookstore in line with its overall vision, meaning that the selection is overwhelmingly world literature and works in translation.

Come here to find fresh voices, a change in perspective, and a look beyond what dominates the cultural dialogue in the US.

“...head to the North Side to see the famed City of Asylum, "a grass-roots organization that provides exiled writers from around the world with housing -- and turns those formerly derelict homes into giant works of art."...” - Yelp Review

2. City Books

908 Galveston Avenue | Northside | facebook.com/citybookspgh

Owned by a former college English professor, City Books was originally located in South Side.

The owner is very friendly and considerate, and she's more than happy to help patrons pick out the perfect book.

When the current owner took over, she decided to reopen in a new, smaller space in the Northside.

While space is limited, the stock at City Books is clearly selected with care. Some books are sold packaged in paper, with a short description of the plot--making them a fun way to discover a new author or genre.

“...she [owner] has in the past shipped a book I wanted to me in Utah. I love her collection - lots of history, which is my interest - and she also has other nonfiction genres covered, too...” - Yelp Review

3. Classic Lines

5825 Forbes Ave | Squirrel Hill | facebook.com/classical-lines

This Squirrel Hill bookstore is a wonderful place to peruse the shelves and find some new reading material.

It is also conveniently located right next to a coffee shop, so you can sit and enjoy your purchases over a cup of coffee. While their focus is mainly on books, they also sell bits and bobs such as cards and other small, literary-themed items. And although most of the books are new, there are also plenty of cheaper, used books for sale as well.

“...Everything is laid out well and things are easy to find. The selection is excellent with a heavy dose of local writers.  I like that there are comfy chairs and great places to sit and read. The whole store evokes more of a library vibe rather than a bookstore...” - Yelp Review

4. Copacetic Comics

3138 Dobson Street, Third Floor | Polish Hill | copaceticcomics.com

Tucked away in Polish Hill, this bookstore might seem a little too hard to get to and not worth the hike.

Or you might think that because you’re not into comics, this isn’t a store you need to visit. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth: This gem of a shop is located in the same building as a record store and Kaibur Coffee, and boasts an enviable selection of not only comics, but books, DVDs, CDs, and zines.

"...There's such an interesting variety of books, comics, and graphic novels cramped into the tiniest space I've ever experienced for a bookstore. It's a wonderful nook that makes me feel inspired just being there.” - Yelp Review

5. White Whale

4754 Liberty Avenue | Bloomfiled | whitewhalebookstore.com

Located in Bloomfield, this bookstore first existed as the East End Book Exchange, starting in 2012.

When the original owner decided to pursue other projects in 2016, the store was taken over by the current owners and turned into what is today the White Whale bookstore.

Regularly hosting readings and other events, this bookstore is a local favorite for bookworms and those seeking a sense of community in a changing neighborhood.

“...I love how quaint this place is, and how they utilize their space by filling it with books, a kid corner, and some chairs to get cozy in. I love browsing through their impressive selection...Not only do they have new books, but used ones as well...” - Yelp Review

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