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Boston's Best Used Bookstores

In today's market, it seems like a used bookstore is a rare beast. However, Boston has managed to keep more than a handful of quality used bookstores in spite of the ebook craze. Among them are some of the city's best bookstores and most interesting places to shop. Try them on "Drop Everything and Read Day" this April 12. There are some real gems hiding on bookshelves and in milk crates across Boston.
Raven Used Books
(Photo Credit: Raven Used Books)

Ravens Used Books
263 Newbury St.
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 578-9000

Ravens Used Books has a location in Newbury St. and one in Cambridge. The Boston location has plenty of sturdy bookshelves and tables of books to browse. It is also quite organized, so finding a specific title is not all that difficult. There are roughly 17,000 books in the store at any given time, so it would be tough to leave without finding something to read. The owner has very few books for sale online, so the only way to browse this store is to come in and explore.

Related: Boston's Best Independent Bookstores

Brookline Booksmith
(Photo Credit: Brookline Booksmith)

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

Brookline Booksmith is a fully functioning bookstore with new titles, author events and more. What used book fans will love is the store's Used Book Cellar. All of the books in the cellar are in gently used condition and stocked on clean, neat shelves. The store even buys modern fiction and non-fiction books, so bring in newer titles for cash or store credit. As a more modern used bookstore, it does not give book lovers a chance to dig through piles searching for classic treasures. Nevertheless, it still has its own appeal.

Brattle Book Shop
(Photo Credit: Brattle Book Shop)

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

Brattle Book Shop is one of the oldest bookstores in America, having opened in 1825. What makes this used bookstore so interesting is not its age, but its inventory. It stocks such items as old maps, collectibles, first editions and fine leather bound books. Those interested in rare books should head up to the third floor. When the weather permits, there is even an area outside for passersby to browse a large portion of the store's 250,000 items in stock.

Ars Libri
(Photo Credit: Ars Libri)

Ars Libri
500 Harrison Ave.
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 357-5212

Ars Libri is a splendid specialty bookstore that stocks rare and out-of-print books about art. Anyone interested in a visual art, be it painting or photography, will enjoy browsing the shelves at Ars Libri. Expect to see treats like books from masters like Picasso and Matisse to centuries old illustrated pieces. Call the store to have a free catalogue sent, schedule an appointment or stop by the store during open hours to see the impressive assortment of art history at Ars Libri.

Related: Boston's Best Children's Bookstores

Commonwealth Books
(Photo Credit: Commonwealth Books)

Commonwealth Books
9 Spring Lane
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 338-6328

Those looking for a great mix of new and classic titles should try out Commonwealth Books. Boasting more than 40,000 titles from the medieval to the modern, there is plenty from which to choose. This is the kind of bookstore that smells like a used bookstore, in a good way. Customers can sit, read and dig through the books and leave happy. It is only ever closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so readers can rely on the books being available 363 days a year.

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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