In this post, we’ve featured 10 of the best independent bookstores in Washington, D.C.. Continue reading to find out about the books they offer.
Opened in 1991 by Bill Kerr and now owned by a group of previous employees, Capitol Hill Books can be found in the Eastern Market area of Washington, D.C., a few blocks down from the United States Capitol building and Supreme Court. The three-floor building is filled with books on every subject between Africa and World War II, and with a special focus on used, rare, and out-of-print books.
Capitol Hill Books does hold the occasional event like book fairs and book launches. They also purchase used books depending on what you have to offer. Contact them to see how to stop by and see whether your collection would work well with theirs.
Opened in 1973 by Allan Stybeck in Washington D.C., Second Story Books has had a varied history of expansion and consolidation over its 40-year history. Now focused into two locations, with its flagship location being the Dupont Circle store in D.C., Second Story Books is known as having one of the largest collections of used and rare books in the world.
Second Story Books provide other services besides buying and selling books; they also hold book auctions, appraisals, and local author consignments. They also hold the occasional author-related event, such as book signings and book launches, in the shop. Contact them to find out more about their shop and how to visit.
East City Bookshop was opened in 2016 by Laurie Gillman on Pennsylvania Avenue. Their mission is to provide more than just books; they want to provide the community of East Washington, D.C. with a place for book lovers to come together to discuss and discover books and authors. They carry all the latest and popular titles in both fiction and nonfiction, as well as branded merchandise and other non-book related gift items.
East City Bookshop regards itself as the premiere place for author-related events in Washington D.C.. They are especially proud of the large number of monthly book clubs, covering almost every genre and topic. Contact them online to see how you can visit this exceptional book club and help support their mission to bring a love of reading to every person in East D.C.
If you travel a bit further down Pennsylvania Avenue, you’ll find Bridge Street Books, another long-standing independent bookstore open in Washington, D.C. since 1980. While they carry titles covering most subjects, Bridge Street Books specializes in textbooks, trade, and smaller independent publications.
If you want to take in an author reading while you’re in town, be sure to check out the event page at Bridge Street Books; they often have a double act of two authors reading over one night. Contact them to find out more about what books and events they have on the horizon.
If you find yourself in the Petworth area of Washington, D.C., be sure to check out Loyalty Bookstore, opened in 2019 by Hannah Oliver Depp. Loyalty Bookstore focuses more on creating a comfortable feel to the bookstore, with display tables rather than shelves that invite people to flip through books that catch their eyes. While these tables contain the more popular and latest titles and authors, there is a more of a focus on children’s books and multicultural and underrepresented authors than other stores in the area.
Loyalty Bookstores cultivates a community of book lovers through its dedicated space for events such as book clubs and author events such as open discussions and book signings. There is even a year-long book subscription service through Loyalty Bookstores which delivers a new but lesser-known book to your home every three months. Contact them online to sign up or stop by to check out their quaint, inviting shop.
In the Adams Morgan district of Washington, D.C., Lost City Books was established in 2019 after the original store it now occupies was sold to Adam Waterreus. The rebrand was inspired by the store’s mission to provide a doorway to new worlds and ideas through the books it curates and sells. While still a haven for used and rare books, Lost City Books also offers some of the more nuanced and quirky new releases visitors may not have otherwise discovered.
Events at Lost City Books are more than just book signings and book clubs; they also offer a space for educators, activists, and local artists to hold discussions. Contact them for more information on what events and books they have to offer.
Opened in 1984 in the northwest district of Washington, D.C., Politics and Prose is more than its name suggests. It is an independent bookstore created for the community, by the community, and within the community. Books at Politics and Prose are about more than just politics and poetry; there are also popular fiction and nonfiction titles, children’s books, genre fictions, and lifestyle books, as well. Most notably are the two book subscriptions offered by the shop: a tailored Book-of-the-month service and a Signed First Editions service.
Events are the pride and joy of Politics and Prose, with author readings, book clubs and even book-related classes happening on nearly every night and multiple times over the weekends. Contact them to find out more about this little shop.
Opened as a physical location in the Anacostia District of Washington, D.C. in 2017, Mahogany Books has been operating online since 2007 to bring African American books and authors to the reading public. Books cover a variety of topics, from children and teens to cultural literature to lifestyle interests.
Mahogany Books also cultivates an environment of tolerance and acceptance through its author discussion and book readings. Contact them to find out more about what books they have and how to visit this exceptional bookstore in the heart of D.C.
Located in northeast Washington D.C., Solid State Books was opened in 2017 with a mission to provide the D.C. area with a collection of diverse authors and subjects. They have books on popular topics, as well as a vast collection of children’s and teen’s books. You can even grab a quick coffee in their adjoining café to enjoy while you peruse their vast selection.
Solid State Books also holds events for almost every interest, from book signings and book clubs to children’s story hours to political panels and local group discussions. Solid State Books aims to be the place for local bibliophiles and non-book lovers alike to enjoy. Contact them to find out when the next event takes place and how you can visit.
The oldest independent bookstore in Washington, D.C., Kramers opened in 1976 to provide the area with a place for the community to enjoy a book and a cup of joe without worrying about the world outside. The shop carries a wide variety of books on whatever subject you might be looking for. There’s even a full service restaurant and bar to entertain you and your friends after checking out the new releases.
Events at Kramers are not to be missed, with local and international authors speaking almost every night of the week and monthly in-house book clubs. You can even pop upstairs for a quick haircut if you fancy it. Contact them to book an appointment for the restaurant or barbers or just to have a quick look about this D.C. mainstay since 1976.