In this post, we’ve featured 10 top independent bookstores in Kentucky. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Carmichael’s Bookshop
Stop by Carmichael’s Bookshop at one of their two Louisville, KY, locations. Opened in 1978 by Carol Besse and Michael Boggs, Carmichael’s has been THE independent bookshop of the area, catering to all tastes with its carefully selected collection of popular fiction and nonfiction texts.
Carmichael’s also hosts author events such as book launches and book signings, as well as book clubs and kids’ story time events. Contact them to find out what they have in stock and how to stop by to visit them.
2. A Book by Its Cover Rare and Used Books
If you want to check out some rare or used books while you’re in Louisville, check out A Book by Its Cover. Opened in 1998, A Book by Its Cover has a large and varied collection of rare, used, and first edition books, but they specialize in the nonfiction, philosophy, cultural criticism, poetry, and local interest categories. You can even sell books to them, either individually or as a part of a whole library.
You can visit the shop to check out their collection but by appointment only, so there aren’t really any events to attend. But the exclusivity makes the books even more interesting to buy! Contact them to set an appointment or ask about selling your own books, if you have some to sell yourself.
3. Glover’s Bookery
If you find yourself in Lexington, KY, check out Glover’s Bookery, the local place to buy and sell books since 1978. Glover’s Bookery stock includes new and used books on nearly every topic, from Adventure to World History. They even offer shipping to the continental US of any order completed online.
While they don’t host a lot of events at their store, you can find Glover’s Bookery at many of the local book shows in the Midwest. Contact them to find out how you can stop by to check them out!
4. sQecial Media
Want something a bit more occult or out-of-the-ordinary? Check out sQecial Media, Lexington’s spot for alternative books and gifts since 1972. While sQecial Media carries a variety of occult-themed gifts and household items (such as candles, crystals, and tarot), their book stock includes such categories as LGBTQ+, political rights and activism, meditation and mindfulness, and religion and spirituality.
sQecial Media also hosts a variety of events such as book signings and author talks, movie showings, local community festivals, and book clubs. Contact them to see what’s next on and how you can stop by if you’re in the area.
5. Roebling Point Books & Coffee
Since 2010, Roebling Point Books & Coffee has provided the Covington community with a space to enjoy a cup of coffee while looking for their next big literary escape. The shelves at Roebling Point Books & Coffee hold new books on nearly every topic imaginable, and if you can’t find it there, they will happily special order it for you.
The café is a special point of pride for Roebling Point as they offer only fair trade, ethically sourced coffee. The café is also where many of the events hosted by Roebling Point takes place, so feel free to order a cup of joe while you’re waiting to hear a local and national author speak. Contact them to see how you can stop by and check out this local favorite!
6. Sweetwater Bookshop
If you find yourself in the southern part of Kentucky, pop into Sweetwater Bookshop in Campbellsville, just northwest of Daniel Boone Forest. Opened in 2017, Sweetwater Bookshop prides itself on being a small bookshop with a small-town feel. They carry new and used books for all tastes, as well as non-book gifts such as puzzles, toys, and cards.
Are you an aspiring poet or musician? Or want to listen to someone who does? Sweetwater Bookshop hosts a variety of events such as open mic nights, author events, and even artistic workshops for local residents and visitors alike. Contact them to find out when the next event is and what they have on offer.
7. CoffeeTree Books
Located in Morehead, KY, halfway between Lexington and the Ohio/West Virginia border is CoffeeTree Books. Opened in 1999, CoffeeTree Books has been an oasis for book lovers and coffee drinkers alike. With shelves full of bestsellers and creepy genre fiction alike, CoffeeTree Books offers something for everyone.
Attached to CoffeeTree Books is The Fuzzy Duck Coffee Shop, selling a local blend of coffee, teas, flavored coffee, and coffee- and tea-related merchandise. Events at CoffeeTree Books are just as varied as their book collection, with book clubs for adults and teens, kids’ story time, author events, as well as a knitting club and open mic nights. Contact them for more information.
8. Blue Marble Books
Opened by Tina Moore in Fort Thomas, Blue Marble Books has been a haven and fierce supporter of children’s literacy since 1979. As such, Blue Marble Books contains children and young adult books in an inviting and vibrant environment meant to instill a joy of reading in children.
Blue Marble Books hosts a variety of children’s events such as author and illustrator appearances, story time, and workshops with visiting storytellers. The shop even contains one of the two recreations of the Great Green Room from the children’s book Goodnight Moon. Contact them to visit and remember that childlike joy for reading once again.
9. Read Spotted Newt
Located in Hazard, KY, Read Spotted Newt opened at the start of 2020 to provide the local community with a bookstore they could live in. They are a story “by the people, for the people,” specializing in selling local writers and interest books, local artists, and gifts created by local people.
Even though they’ve only been opened a short time, Read Spotted Newt is known for their author events, bringing local and national authors from near and far to do book readings and signings. Contact them to see whether they have the book you’re looking for.
10. Blacks Bookshop
On the Ohio/West Virginia/Kentucky border, in Argillite, KY is what many consider the best used bookstore in Kentucky: Blacks Bookshop. Blacks literally has every category you can imagine for used, rare, and out-of-print books: from airplanes to yearbooks and almanacs.
There aren’t many events on offer at Blacks, considering their collection of books contains books that are hard to find or out-of-print. Contact them to see if they have that illusive book you can’t seem to find anywhere else; chances are, they do!