Looking for the best bookstores in Buffalo, NY? We’ve got good news for you. We’ve completed all the research and compiled a list of 10 top bookstores in the city.
The current Talking Leaves Books location in the Elmwood Village opened in 2001 as the second location of the original ‘Everyone’s Bookshop,’ a Buffalo, NY, bookstore cooperative of the University Heights community which originally opened in 1971. Now that the original location is closed, Talking Leaves Books remains the only remaining bookstore cooperative in Buffalo, offering a large collection of new and used fiction and nonfiction titles, children’s books, and student textbooks.
Talking Leaves hosts event such as local author book launches, local and national author book talks and signings, book clubs, and children’s story hours. Contact them to see when you can check out the in-store collection and possibly even become a member of this community-owned and -operated bookstore.
Opened by Brian Lampkin in 1995, Rust Belt Books has moved around Buffalo quite a lot in its three-decade history. Rust Belt Books has grown so much that it finally settled into its own building on Grant St in 2015, after ten years with its new owner, Kristi Meal. Rust Belt Books sells gently used books of all genres and categories, stocked neatly on the floor to ceiling shelves found throughout the shop.
If you venture into the ‘secret’ back room of the shop, you’ll find the events room, where Rust Belt Books hosts author talks and signings, poetry readings, book clubs, and special ‘backyard sales.’ Contact Rust Belt Books to see if they have what you’re looking for or how they can special order it, if they don’t.
3. Zawadi Books
Originally opened in 1976 as Harambee Books and Crafts, Zawadi Books (so renamed in 2010) is Buffalo’s premiere independent bookstore specializing in all things African and African descent. Zawadi Books is THE place to discover books by authors of African descent or written about topics related to the people and history of African descent.
Zawadi Books is most known for their events series, hosting author signings and book talks, as well as oral storytelling, and Civil Rights history celebrations. Contact them to find out how to stop by and check out America’s longest running independent bookstore entirely run and operated by African Americans.
Burning Books opened in 2009 in Buffalo as a place to foster an interest in social justice issues with the aim of creating a community working to address these issues. There are some titles related more to lifestyle and hobbies than social justice issues, but the majority of their collection is aimed at raising awareness. Non-book items for sale, such as patches, bags, cards, and calendars, often provide some monetary support specific social justice community groups in the area.
Events at Burning Books are also related more to raising awareness of these issues, as well as promoting books and authors writing about them. Contact them to find out how you can visit or even join their cooperative, Friends of Burning Books.
Opened in 2008, Dog Ears Bookstore sells everything from popular and classic fiction and nonfiction to young adult and children’s novels. The best part is that all the money made from these sales help to fund literacy programs in the Buffalo and Greater New York areas.
Dog Ears also has a café serving up coffee and tea, as well as large spread of meal items such as sandwiches, salads, and paninis. They also host events such as book signings and book clubs. Contact them to find out how you can stop by and support children’s literacy.
6. Fitz Books
Opened in 2020 by Aaron Bartley, Fitz Books sells new and used contemporary fiction, non-fiction, social justice, and art titles. Decorated in a modern, minimalist style, Fitz aims to open a waffle café attached to it soon, once the building space is available.
Fitz holds a variety of events beyond just the normal independent bookstore fare of author signings and book launches, such as art exhibitions and poetry readings. Contact them to find out what they have going on next and how you can stop in to join them.
One of the solely female-owned and -operated independent bookstores in Buffalo, NY, Alice, Ever After opened in 2021 to provide the Buffalo community with a space to foster children’s literacy and joy for the written word. Alice, Ever After have books for all ages, from birth to young adult, with a small special selection of books for adults.
Alice, Ever After hosts events to encourage children to interact with the stories they are reading, such as local and national author signings and discussions, a weekly story hour, and a monthly book club. Contact them via their website to stop by and check them out.
Are you looking for somewhere to buy spiritual books, crystals, and other occult items? Go no further than Inspiration Point Books, opened in 1997 near Hodge. They also sell household items and art featuring mystical objects and beings such as fairies and wizards.
Events at Inspiration Point are also catered towards the more mystical and spiritual interests, with Reiki training, as well as author signings and open discussions. Contact them via their social media page to find out if they have the items you’re looking for or how to attend one of their latest events.
Opened in 2009 by Kathleen Skoog and Kim Krug, Monkey See, Monkey Do works to encourage local children to enjoy reading and discover new books and authors. You can stop by the brick-and-mortar shop, browse online, or even purchase a monthly book subscription delivered straight to your home.
Monkey See, Monkey Do is best known for their children’s events; they host book parties, book talks, book clubs, princess tea parties, as well as literature dinner parties for adults. Throughout the year, Monkey See, Monkey Do also hosts a variety of writing and drawing workshops for children to practice their own book-related skills. Contact them to find out when the next big event takes place and how to join in.
Just north of Buffalo, in the suburb of North Tonawanda, is Old Editions Bookshop and Gallery. Opened in 2002, Old Editions boasts itself as one of the largest independent bookstores for rare and out-of-print books. They also sell prints, artworks, first editions, historical documents, and collectibles.
If you’re looking to attend an art exhibition or a historical lecture, Old Editions has an event for you. Contact them to see how you can check out their 35,000 square foot warehouse and store and find that special book you can’t find anywhere else.