In search of your next read? To find your ideal book, be sure to check out these 10 top indie bookstores in Iowa.
If you are in Des Moines, IA, check out Beaverdale Books, a community-oriented independent bookstore located in the Beaverdale neighborhood since 2006. Beaverdale Books prides itself on its large local author collection, as well as its collection of general interest fiction and nonfiction.
Events at Beaverdale Books are aimed at encouraging a love of reading in the local community, particularly in the children and young adults. They host author meet-and-greets, book signings, book launches, book clubs, and local community events. Contact them for more information about where they are and when they’re open.
If you’re interested in having a good glass of wine or beer while reading your new favorite book, check out Storyhouse Bookpub in Des Moines. Although Alison Paxton originally started Storyhouse Bookpub in 2020 as an online store and pop-up shop, she put down roots in 2021 in a brick-and-mortar shop located in the East Village.
While the bulk of Storyhouse Bookpub’s inventory can be purchased online, the physical shop has a carefully curated collection of contemporary and classic fiction and nonfiction titles. Author and storytelling events are the main focus of Storyhouse Bookpub, in an effort to connect the local community with the ever-growing literature scene both in Iowa and the nation, as a whole. Contact them if you have ideas or questions about what’s on next!
If you travel just south of Des Moines to Indianola, IA, you’ll find Pageturners Bookstore. Since 2014, Pageturners Bookstore has provided the local community of Indianola with a fun and quirky place to buy just about any new or used book you might be looking for: popular fiction or nonfiction, genre fiction, children’s books and young adult titles.
Pageturners hosts a variety of events celebrating everything literary: from author book signings and book launches to national independent bookstore day to Harry Potter’s birthday. There’s even an in-house book club that meets on the first Thursday of every month. Contact Pageturners to find out what is next on their event calendar and how you can find them to stop by.
If you find yourself in Cedar Rapids, stop into Next Page Books, a local independent bookstore located in the New Bohemia district and opened in 2012 by Mary Ann and Chuck Peters. You can find almost anything you’re looking for in Next Page Books, from current best-sellers and award-winners to classic children’s and young adult novels.
Next Page is also well-known for their events series. While they have book signings and author meet-and-greets, Next Page Books is known for its book clubs, with a different club meeting taking place every other week! Contact them if you have any questions or want them to special order something for you while you’re in town!
Located in nearby Marion, IA, Swamp Fox Bookstore opened in 2020 to provide the local community with a place for potential booklovers big and small to find something that interests them. The shop has over 2,500 titles on the shelves, ranging in categories from antiques to young adult. There are even more books available in their online shop!
Events at Swamp Fox Bookstore are host to book signings and discussions by authors from all over the country, novice and award-winning alike. There are also quite a few book clubs that host their monthly meetings in-shop. Contact them to find out how to check out this fun little shop in smalltown Marion, IA.
Probably the oldest continuous independent bookstore in Iowa, Source Book Store opened in Davenport out of the living of George Pekios (the original owner) in 1939, with a permanent shop opening in 1940 in downtown Davenport. Source Book Store has grown tremendously since then and has become THE place for local Iowans to buy their new and used books, music, comics, magazines, and movies.
Source Book Store doesn’t offer much in the way of author or book-related events. You can sell or donate your gently used books to the shop by contacting them and setting up an appointment.
Want a book AND a cup of coffee? Then check out The Brewed Book in Davenport. Open in 2017, The Brewed Book has been the place in the Hilltop Campus area of Davenport to find a used book and a good up of coffee at the same time.
Events at The Brewed Book are about more than just reading; while there are book signings and author meet-and-greets, there are also RPG nights and writers’ workshops. If your hobbies include anything with a narrative, you can find something you’ll like at The Brewed Book. Contact them via their social media to find out more!
8. Book People
Book People is the local independent bookstore for the people of Sioux City, IA. Opened in 1977 by four friends, Book People carry a vast selection of popular fiction and nonfiction, as well as indie best sellers in almost every category imaginable. They even have a large selection of non-book related gifts, toys, totes, and home items (to name a few), but you can only find those in-store.
Book People hosts a variety of events, from book signings and author readings to celebrations of local community events and special book-related events, like Harry Potter’s birthday and National Banned Books week. Contact them to see what’s next up for Book People!
Opened in 1978 in Iowa City and currently housed in a huge and historic 1847 home downtown, The Haunted Bookshop is the place to find just about any used book you’re looking for. From African American studies to travel and transport, if you’re looking for it and it isn’t a new book then the Haunted Bookshop probably has it.
Because the Haunted Bookshop only sells used books, they don’t host very many author events during the year. They do participate in local community events and provide a meeting space for a variety of book clubs. Contact them to find out for more information on how you can come by and look through their three floors of bookshelves!
Also in Iowa City is Prairie Lights Books and Café, opened in 1978 as a haven for the local community to find books by both new and classic authors. Over the years, Prairie Lights has built up its inventory to now include a range of fiction and nonfiction texts, both new and used, popular and independent, and available in-store and online.
Prairie Lights is most well-known for their ‘Live from Prairie Lights’ event series, featuring live readings of authors and poets from around the world which are then simultaneously streamed online. Their café is also worth visiting as it not only provides delicious coffees, teas, breakfast nibbles, and alcohol, but provides a space for local artists to showcase and sell their current pieces. Contact Prairie Lights today to see how you can join the next ‘Live from Prairie Lights’ series and grab a bite or a drink while you’re at it.