The pandemic is a good time to curl up with a good book, or maybe a stack of them. And it’s also a good time to support local independent bookshops. Shop in person or online to buy new books and gift cards — and sometimes, even audiobooks.
And if you don’t need of a new title but still want to support your local bookseller, some are accepting donations to keep operations running via crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe.
Here, we’ve rounded up more than a dozen Philadelphia-area indie bookshops that can still help you get your reading fix. Check out the list below:
SHOPPING GUIDE: LOCAL BOOKSHOPS
This East Passyunk shop is open for curbside pickup and in-store browsing, and features a strong selection of books from local authors and publishers (among them: co-owner Christina Rosso-Schneider, who released her first book, She is a Beast, last year). There’s also plenty of online events to attend, as well as a private, 90-minute Valentine’s Day date package for two, if you want something a little more romantic.
Philly fans of comic books and graphic novels, this shop, which was founded by Temple University alumna Ariell Johnson, is the place for you. Running five years strong now, Amalgam is the first black female-owned comic shop on the East Cost, and it’s open for pickup (and shipping!) of all your geek culture needs — from issues of Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer and Dungeons & Dragons handbooks, to superhero toys and statues (plus beverages and baked goods).
Located on Fabric Row, Brickbat has all kinds of used and new books available for sale (and shipping is available if you don’t want to go in person), from art books to children’s literature. But, really, their specialty is rare editions of all types of publications, so hit them up if you’re looking for something special for your bookshelf or coffee table — and be sure to follow them on Facebook, where they regularly announce new stock.
Mount Airy’s Big Blue Marble Bookstore has been at it since 2005, and focuses on providing a diverse selection of reading material for its community, ranging from indie bestsellers and cookbooks to kids books and LGBTQ-focused fiction. In-person shopping, no-contact pickup, and home delivery (if you’re in Northwest Philly) are all available — and, if you’re feeling charitable, check out their “Pay It Forward” fund, in which you can donate money to be used by customers in need of books.
Located in West Philadelphia, Hakim’s was founded in 1959 and is considered the city’s first African American bookstore. The shop is open as well as selling through its online store, and specializes in African American history and studies with publications ranging from educational children’s books to memoirs and biographies.
This woman-centric Fishtown bookshop, named for abolitionist Harriett Tubman, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, and is open for in-person business and online shopping (and they’ve got some cool merch, too). Here, the focus is on celebrating “women authors, women artists, and women activists,” as the shop’s tagline goes, and its diverse offerings reflect that goal.
Open since 2019 in East Kensington, The Head & The Hand is a nonprofit publishing company, writers’ workshop, and bookstore that focuses on supporting and developing its local literary community. Here, you’ll find a curated selection of local literature, fiction and nonfiction, children’s and young adults’ books, and more. You can browse in person, shop online and pick up, or even reserve a private, 90-120-minute date night.
Nestled between Society Hill and Queen Village since 2005, this shop is open for curbside pickup only, and also offers books and gift cards for sale online. If you’re looking for a recommendation, check out Richard’s Picks on their website, which are some hand-selected titles from owner Richard De Wyngaert. Or, if you want regular book deliveries, consider their monthly or quarterly “HHB To You” subscription service.
At it since 1951, Joseph Fox Bookshop is the oldest local bookstore on the list, and has long been a destination for Center City book lovers. There’s something for everyone here, with selections ranging from literary fiction and poetry to architecture, art, and children’s books. Plus, they’ve been associated as booksellers with the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Author Events series (which is still running virtually), so this one is something of a local cultural landmark.
This Germantown shop was launched by former CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill back in 2017, and it’s quickly become a Philly favorite. Open for online and in-person shopping, Uncle Bobbie’s has everything from titles featured on Hill’s Coffee and Books podcast, to offerings for kids and young adults — plus some killer lattes if you need a pick-me-up.
Montco readers are in luck thanks to Narberth Bookshop, which is open for in-store shopping and also taking orders for delivery via email (The shop delivers to Bala Cynwyd, Merion, Wynnewood, Ardmore, and, of course, Narberth.) Their large, curated collection of books should have just about anything you’d want, but if not, they also take requests and special orders (and if you’re a particularly voracious reader, consider a membership for discounted pricing).
As Elkins Park’s Open Book Bookstore puts it online, at this point, they’re “open-ish,” and suggest signing up online for a 50-minute browsing appointment if you just want to look around. When you do, you’ll find a curated selection of books from plenty of Greater Philadelphia area authors, as well as a trove of offerings from literary and classic fiction to young adult and children’s books.
This Phoenixville shop has only been open since 2019, but it didn’t take long to become a local favorite — in fact, it won a 2020 reader’s choice award for best independent bookstore from Main Line Today. They’re open for in-store shopping and curbside pickup, and have a wide selection of author-signed books if you’re looking for something special. Plus, there’s plenty of virtual writer conversation events to check out, too.
This Bucks County bookstore — which has a sister store, the Lahaska Bookshop, in Peddler’s Village — is open for in-person shopping and taking book orders online. There’s plenty to choose from, but of particular note: They’re actually an official provider of Berenstain Bears books, and offer special collections that you won’t find at other stores.
📍 16 S. Main St., Doylestown 📞 215-230-7610, ✉️ email@example.com, 🌐 doylestownbookshop.com, 📷 @doylestownbookshop, 🕑 Open Mon.- Thu. 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Fri.- Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Wayne’s Main Point Books has been slinging all kinds of books in the ‘burbs since 2013, and currently, they’re open for in-person shopping and curbside pickup, and offer a variety of virtual author conversations and book groups. And if you’re feeling charitable, the shop is working with the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children to get new books into the hands of K-4 students, which you can help with by buying a book to donate.
This Haddonfield shop initially started life in Tampa, Fla. in 1991, but made its way to Jersey with a sister store in 2015, and has been a local favorite ever since. Now, you can hit them up for curbside pickup or in-store shopping, and choose from a ton of fiction, nonfiction, teen, and children’s books (or, for some inspiration, check out some picks from owner Julie Beddingfield online). Online gift codes are also available, or you can pick up an audiobook.
Princeton University students know this book shop well, seeing as it’s the official bookstore for the school — but its offerings aren’t just for the Ivy League folks among us. In addition to the usual contemporary and classic literature, Labyrinth also has a wide selection of rare, antiquarian, and used books to peruse, so check them out especially if you’ve got a book collector in your life.
📍 122 Nassau St., Princeton, 📞 609-497-1600, ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org, 🌐 labyrinthbooks.com, 📷 @labyrinth.books 🕑 Mondays for phone and curbside pickup only, Tue.-Thu. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
This Mount Laurel shop may look quaint, but don’t let appearances fool you. Here, there are more than 60,000 titles in stock. And with all that shelf space, their collection covers everything from philosophy and religion to children’s titles. But the focus is on history, science-fiction, and fantasy — and you can even “dibs” books ahead of your visit via their Instagram.
📍 114 Creek Rd., Mount Laurel, 📞 856-234-9335, ✉️ email@example.com, 🌐 secondtimebooksonline.com, 📷 @secondtimebooksnj, 🕑 Tue.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.