Boston, Massachusetts is a big, bookish city. If fact, with so much literary history and so many bookstores, Beantown could be called Booktown. With over 100 universities and colleges across the greater Boston area, it’s no wonder that the city is awash with libraries and booksellers. For book lovers looking to hit up the literary hotspots, here are some of the best bookstores in Boston to visit.
The 7 Best Bookstores in Boston
Papercuts is a lovely woman-owned bookstore in the Jamaica Plain neighbourhood of Boston. The owner Kate Layte is a book industry professional and uses her experience, and great taste, to stock the shelves with an engaging, eye-opening and interesting selection of titles. Papercuts stocks new books and has a consignment program which brings in a range of books from self- and independently-published authors.
Situated on Newbury Street in the Back Bay area of Boston, Trident Booksellers and Cafe is a popular hangout for students and freelancers. In the store, you’ll find books, magazines, cards and gifts and plenty of friendly helpful staff who love chatting about what they are reading. In non-pandemic times, Trident also hosts a variety of events, such as book clubs, quiz nights, beer tastings and author readings. The Cafe dishes up fresh, tasty food and really great coffee making it a great place to relax, read and refuel.
Brattle Book Shop has been supplying books to Bostonians and visitors since 1825. It is one of the oldest and largest used bookstores in America. The store has three floors and an outside sale area and there are over 250,000 books on the shelves. You can buy maps and postcards here too. All genres of books are stocked and there is a notable rare book collection too. Knowledgable staff are always on hand to chat and help you find what you are looking for and to show you around the Rare Books room. It truly is a treasure trove for book lovers.
More Than Words is a nonprofit social enterprise. Its vibrant, youth-run bookstore in the heart of the South End is crammed with over 40,000 donated books. On the shelves, you’ll find everything from the classics to cookbooks, art to ancient history. The More Than Words bookstore is a social enterprise marketplace, so alongside the books, you’ll also find gifts and items made by other local non-profits.
Commonwealth Books, in downtown Boston, is a warm and welcoming space. The owners fill the bookcases and shelves with books covering everything from recent releases to poetry, prints, maps, medieval manuscripts and more. There is also a collection of hard-to-find books and prints and antiquarian texts. For bookworms and collectors, Commonwealth Books is a literary treasure trove.
6. Frugal Books
Frugal Bookstore is the only bookstore in the Roxbury neighbourhood and is the only Black-owned bookshop in Boston. The store’s motto is ‘changing minds one book at a time’. Frugal Books specialises in anti-racist literature and books about the Black experience and stocks the largest selection of African-American authors in Boston. The bookstore also doubles as a community space where book groups and social gatherings are held. It is a safe space where both authors and readers of colour feel celebrated and welcome.
Harvard Book Store is located in the city of Cambridge which part of the Boston metropolitan area. Although many people believe this store is just for Harvard University students, it isn’t. It is for all book lovers. Although, being so close to the university, this bookstore is popular with students and scholars. Harvard Book Store sells both new and used books – the used books cellar is a place that sparks joy – and items found in these old books are proudly displayed, for instance, ticket stubs, bookmakers, notes etc. It also hosts award-winning, star-studded literary events such as book readings and interviews and conversations with authors.