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Boston's Best Local Bookstores

Boston is not immune to the rash of bookstore closings that has swept the country since the advent of digital reading media. Luckily for the city, some of the best brick and mortar bookstores in Boston are still standing. In fact, they do not look to be going anywhere anytime soon. Therefore, anyone in town looking for a place to browse, read or maybe even find a limited edition has a place to hunker down and smell the pages.
Brattle Book Shop
The outdoor bargain lot at the Brattle Book Shop (credit:

Brattle Book Shop
9 West St.
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 542-0210

Brattle is one of the best-known bookstores in Boston, partly due to the fact that it was founded nearly 200 years ago. It has also been in the same family for more than half a century. The beauty of this shop is that it carries a large selection of used books for the everyday browser. However, it also has a wide selection of first editions and other rare collectible books. Brattle can even help decorators find decoratively bound books for sprucing up bookshelves in homes, offices and more.

Related: Best Bookstores On The South Shore And In Cape Cod

book rack
(Photo from The Book Rack)

The Book Rack
13 Medford St.
Arlington, MA 02474
(781) 646-2665

The Book Rack has tens of thousands of books in its used inventory. These sell for half off the cover price. While this is not the typical range of price of a bargain bookstore and does not offer the same possibility of major steals some shops have, the inventory cannot be ignored. Moreover, The Book Rack also has new books at as much as 30 percent off list price. The best part is this store is one of the few that still accepts trade ins for store credit.

Brookline Booksmith
Inside of Brookline Booksmith (credit:

Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard St.
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 566-6660

Brookline Booksmith is the combination of everything one wants in a bookstore. There are major author talks with big names like Christopher Moore popping in for visits. There is a large used book selection. Booksmith has a book club that meets on the second Monday of the month. New releases, poetry, non-fiction, it is all at Brookline Booksmith. However, this store is most about the community of readers and writers that find themselves in Coolidge Corner at any given time. In short, this is a place with a pulse.

harvard book store
(Photo from Harvard Book Store/Facebook)

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 661-1515

The Harvard Book Store has the obvious longevity associated with Harvard University and will likely not go anywhere soon, but it is more than just that. This is a genuinely good bookstore for those who can look past the Harvard gear prominently up for sale. Author events, signed books and book signings are all part of the Harvard Book Store experience. There is even on demand printing available right there. This unusual feature makes it easy to see past the big name to the store's indie spirit.

Related: Best Children's Book Shops In Boston

(Photo from Calamus Book Store/Facebook)

Calamus Bookstore
92 B South St., Suite B
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 338-1931

Calamus Bookstore is an LGBT bookstore that is hanging on by a thread in a changing atmosphere. For the time being, it is an old staple of the community that features a decent range of books, a comfortable atmosphere and a caring, though small, staff. Look for author readings on the weekend in an atmosphere that lets readers get close to writers. The current plan is for the store to start doubling as an LGBT outreach center, so there is more to this place than initially meets the eye.

Shelly Barclay is a professional freelance writer and amateur author. She writes on a variety of topics from food to mysteries. She loves to share the culture and rich history of her birthplace and home, Boston, with the rest of the world. Her work can be found at

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