To help you find a good book, we’ve compiled a list of 10 top independent bookstores in Nebraska. Read on to learn more.
1. The Bookworm
Opened in Omaha, NE, in 1986 and now owned by Phillip and Beth Black, The Bookworm houses thousands of books on nearly every topic in their 6,000 square foot store. The Bookworm is known for its book clubs; it contributes to over 1000 active registered book clubs and also hosts no less than 15 in-house book clubs on a variety of topics: American history, crime fiction, philosophy, and WWII (to name a few).
The Bookworm prides itself on its availability of children’s books and services, particularly on educational materials and social justice titles. They’re even pet-friendly so you don’t have to leave your four-legged loved ones at home! Contact them for more information on upcoming events and new releases.
When Prairie Books and Gifts closed in Hastings, NE, Michelle Muton (the daughter of Prairie Book’s owners) opened The Next Chapter in Omaha, NE to carry on the legacy. The Next Chapter opened in 2019 with a mission to stay a ‘small, independent bookshop’ and be a reprieve from the big-box bookstores, especially those online. While they carry thousands of books on site, they also have an extensive online shop from which to order and have delivered to your home.
If you do stop by the store, you can purchase alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy in front of their fireplace or with friends on their patio. Contact them via email or social media for more information or to special order a book you want but can’t find.
Although it started in 2017 as a pop-up shop around Lincoln, NE, Dundee Book Company finally found a permanent home in 2020 on Underwood Avenue. Owners Ted and Nicole Wheeler have curated titles from a range of subjects: from popular new fiction and nonfiction to Nebraska authors and Spanish language books. The entire stock can be browsed online but some books must be seen to be gleaned, so shipping is not always available.
The shop does require a paid-for annual membership of $20 before purchasing any books but entitles the holder to a 20% discount on all purchases and early access to future events, among other benefits. It’s definitely worth it for everything you get access to. Contact them for more details about their new location and membership.
Although Bluestem Books as an idea started in 1977, the original shop opened in Lincoln, NE, in 1984 as the dream job of two book loving friends. While they do carry some new books, Bluestem Books specializes in buying and selling used books, with particular focus on academic works and local interest writers and subjects.
Bluestem Books isn’t really known for its events but is well known in the area for its friendly staff and welcoming shop. Contact them online to see if you have any questions or want to check for a specific book.
A true rags-to-riches story, Cinnamon Dokken and Bryan Peterson opened A Novel Idea in 1991 in an unheated basement of downtown Lincoln. After a year of growing their stock from 2,000 to over 20,000 books, they moved to a larger, more modern downtown location and became the Lincoln mainstay they are now. Their stock now includes a large variety of new, used, rare and out-of-print fiction and nonfiction, as well as joke gifts such as postcards, buttons, and ‘blind date’ books.
A Novel Idea is also known for its tradition of keeping cats in the bookshop for patrons to cuddle while reading in their vintage chairs and sofas. Events at A Novel Idea are not your ‘average’ bookstore fare; their events include “Books and Bottles” private book buying parties, community celebrations, and children’s events. For a list of their hours and services, visit their website for contact information.
Opened in the Haymarket area of Lincoln in 2008, Indigo Bridge curates titles from writers and authors who are notably underrepresented or avoid topics potentially harmful to society (such as hate speech, racism, and any of the cultural -phobias).
Events at Indigo Bridge include author readings and signings, but they are also known for their weekly storytelling series where local community members share their own stories or read a favorite book chosen by Indigo Bridge staff. You can best contact them via their social media networks or the phone number listed on the main website.
Opened in downtown Lincoln, NE, in 2017, Francie & Finch sells popular fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as international and local authors and writers. You can browse the store stock online and purchase either online or pop in to the shop for pickup.
Francie & Finch holds events of all kinds, from author signings and launch events to local book clubs and children’s parties. They even hold events related to the visual and performance arts. Contact them to find out when their next event is or to check out what they’ve got in stock.
Opened in 2004 in downtown Seward, NE, Chapters Books & Gifts carries new books on nearly every genre, as well as book-related gifts for children and adults alike. Chapters hosts book clubs and other author-related events, and local U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser often drops by to do book signings and readings.
Chapters also has a mobile bookshop, a school-bus-turned-bookstore called Paige, that drives around to local book fairs to supply books for local school children. Contact them online if you have questions or want to see if they have the book you’re looking for.
If you find yourself in downtown Aurora, NE, make sure to check out local independent bookshop Susan’s Books & Gifts. Opened in 2001, Susan’s Books & Gifts has grown to be one of those eclectic, everything-goes shops small towns like Aurora are known for. Susan’s specializes in selling only donated used books, which helps to not only keep Susan’s open but also helps them to donate to local community projects. The shop also sells children’s clothes, toys, and unique gifts.
There is no rhyme or reason to how the books and gifts are organized in Susan’s Books & Gifts, but if you ask the regular customers, that’s part of the charm! You never know what you’re going to find. Contact them via their information at the bottom of the main webpage.
Opened since 2010 in the Hilltop Mall of Kearney, NE, The Sequel Bookshop carries all the new releases, bestsellers and popular fiction, but specializes in used books and the young adult, children, and history genres. You can browse the store’s stock online and purchase for delivery or curb side pickup.
Local authors can commission to have their newly published books on offer at The Sequel, as long as they commit to a book-signing first. Events at The Sequel are comprised of author signings and book launches, for both local and national authors, as well as activities in honor of themed-book days, such as Harry Potter Day and World Book Day. Contact them online to see what they’ve got in stock.