Bookstores in Chicago
20 Apr 2016
Cities (listed geographically north-to-south, east-to-west) include:
Chicago IL (and other IL)
other geographic areas
[Note 0: These lists were started thirty years ago, before search engines,
Yelp, and so on. Because those are now available, these listings will
include only places that are noteworthy, or have substantive descriptions,
or have been visited by me. Old "minimalist" listings will remain as long
as the stores are open, but no new "minimalist" entries will be added.]
[Note 1: This list includes cities in Chicago and other Illinois cities.
Other Midwestern areas are in the Midwestern US file, and
Minneapolis/St. Paul are in the Central US file.]
[Note 2: I collected these comments from a variety of people. I personally
have no knowledge of many of these places and take no responsibility if you
buy a book you don't enjoy. :-) Phone numbers and precise addresses can be
gotten by calling directory assistance for the appropriate city. Call ahead
for precise hours, as even when I list them they are subject to change.]
[Note 3: If you can add information for any of these, in particular
addresses when they are missing, please send it to me. *PLEASE SPECIFY CITY
[Note 4: Area codes change so quickly these days that these may be wrong.]
[Note 5: My listings for "superstores" are minimal; those are easy to
find, generally fairly standard, and not worth the time to keep
Chicago IL (and other IL):
Hyde Park Area:
57th Street Bookstore (1301 E 57th at Kimbark, 773-684-1300). This is a
general branch of the Seminary Co-op. Very good children's book
section, and a nice collection of fiction, SF, and mysteries.
See Seminary Co-op for membership program details. Open Mon-Thu
10AM-10PM, Fri-Sat 10AM-11PM, Sun 10AM-8PM.
O'Gara and Wilson (E 57th across from Powell's, 773-363-0993). As
organized as Powell's is labyrinthine, but also good. Oldest
bookstore in Chicago. Older books, loosely alphabetized, some
sparse coverage, good history. Open Mon-Sat 9AM-10PM, Sun 12N-10PM.
Powell's (1501 E 57th at Harper, 773-955-7780). Large, superior quality,
some sections not alphabetized, good technical philosophy, lit crit,
history, social science, art, and architecture. "Very little dross
-- book-for-book the best large used bookstores I've ever seen and
priced to move." Another disagrees, however: "Most of their stock
seems to be new-condition publishers' overstcok, and they are not
cheap." Has a restroom. Started by same person as the famous
Portland, OR, store, but has no current connection. Open seven
days 9AM-11PM. [08/14]
Scholars Bookstore (1379 E 53rd, 773-288-6565). New books. Small Asian
store. Very few English titles.
Seminary Cooperative Bookstore (Chicago Theological Seminary, 5757 S
University Avenue at 58th, 800-777-1456, 773-752-1959,
firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.semcoop.com). "Has a good
theological section but its only connection with the Seminary is
that it rents space from them. It is, in my opinion, the best
academic bookstore in the social sciences and humanities in the
world, for English-language books at any rate. Anyone can shop
there, but members receive discounts and dividends (see their
web page). They will ship worldwide. "Books arrive well-packaged
and I've never gotten a damaged one." Open Mon-Fri 8:30AM-9:00PM,
Sat 10AM-6PM, Sun 12N-6PM.
University of Chicago Bookstore (970 E 58th at Ellis, 773-702-7712).
General books downstairs, slightly academic tilt, but reasonable
general section. One of the best technical/scientific bookstores
in the Chicago area. Very strong math, science, and computer
science sections. Open Mon-Fri 8:30AM-4:30PM (textbooks), Mon-Sat
Book Orphange (North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N Pulaski).
Supposedly has a "Book Orphanage" where you can drop off or pick up
books (limit, 5 books picked up per person). Warning: The articles
talking about this are fifteen years old. [07/12]
Bookman's Corner (2959 N Clark, 312-929-8298). "Cluttered, somewhat varied,
cheap! Unable to examine all of the philosophy stacked on the floor
because of no room to shift the piles! Rapid turnover of new
materials." Open Mon-Sat 12N-7PM, Sun 12N-6PM.
Bookworks (3444 N Clark, 312-871-5318, http://www.bookworks.com).
Used books. One reader writes, "The fiction and genre fiction IS
alphabetized, apparently non-fiction is categorized but haphazardly
arranged. For collectors of SF and mystery fiction this is an
EXCELLENT store. There is a huge selection of books that are not
shelved. Always ask. It happens to be one of the few long term
successes in Chicago's used book market." Also has unusual records
and one poster says, "Probably best place in the city to find books
and recordings about the Beat generation." Open Mon-Thu 12N-10PM,
Fri-Sat 12N-11PM, SUn 12N-6PM. [09/06]
Bookleggers (2907 N Broadway). Used books. Small, neat, limited selection,
modest philosophy. Mon-Fri 11:30AM-9PM, Sat 11:30AM-7PM,
The Gallery Bookstore Ltd. (923 W. Belmont Ave, 60657, 773-975-8200).
"General used books, nice collectible science fiction section."
"The only used bookstore in Chicago with a large varied collection
of vintage and collectible sci-fi, mystery and horror. The mystery
section is rather remarkable with several very rare and hard to find
titles. Most are decently priced."
Ravenswood Books (4626 N Lincoln Ave). "General used bookstore.
A labyrinthine and tiny place crammed with a huge stock of
fiction and non-fiction. Best for odd books you may think
you'll never find. I always stumble upon something in this
shop that I've been on the hunt for a while. Patience is
needed. Don't bring a backpack in this place. The aisles
are so narrow you can barely fit one person down them.
Accepts only cash." [04/12]
Rosenblum's World of Judaica (2906 W Devon, 312-262-1700). Jewish books and
Russian-American Bookstore (2746 W Devon, 312-761-3233).
Transitions (Northside). New Age bookstore, cafe, and learning center with
10,000 square feet and 33,000 titles.
Unabridged Books (3251 N Broadway, 312-883-9119,
http://www.unabridgedbookstore.com). One reader says,
"Chicago's only gay and lesbian bookstore. Also carries
contemporary fiction, nonfiction. Emphasis on non-mainstream
books. Entire store is littered with note cards taped to the
shelves with highly opinionated (sometimes pretentious)
comments and reviews from the store's employees trying to get
you to read their favorites." Another says, "Unabridged has a
quite large gay fiction and gay issues section as it is smack
in the middle of our Boystown gay mecca neighborhood, and is
definitely a neighborhood institution by now. However, it is
locally known as perhaps the best independent, non-used
general bookshop in the city. Most of us here in Chitown
sing the store's general praises rather then peg it simply as
the local epicenter of specifically gay lit." [06/07]
Women and Children First (5233 N. Clark, 312-769-9299). Feminist and
children's book store.
Abraham Lincoln Book Shop (357 W Chicago Ave, 312-944-3085). "They
specialize in Americana, the Civil War, and of course, Lincoln
material. I've seen things there that I've never seen elsewhere.
They are the undisputed master dealer in their fields of specialty
Afterwords Books (23 E Illinois, 60657). Mostly used with some new.
"Only general used bookstore in the downtown area."
Barbara's Bookstore (1218 S Halsted (btwn Roosevelt Rd & 12th Pl),
Navy Pier; O'Hare Airport, other locations). [04/12]
Barnes & Noble (1S550 Rt. 83, Oakbrook Terrace 708-571-0999; yes, that's the
letter 'S' in that address, not a 5; 659 W Diversey 312-871-9004;
1701 Sherman, Evanston 708-328-0883).
Brent Books and Cards (309 W Washington). 27,000 titles. Literature and
Myopic Books (1564 N Milwaukee Ave, 60622, 773-862-4882,
http://www.myopicbookstore.com). Three floors of used books,
about 85,000. The bookstore specializes in fiction, history
(large military history section), art, architecture, and
literary criticism. There is a also a large selection of
mystery and SF in the basement, which has finally re-opened after a
year-long re-organization project. The range is between
80,000-90,000 books. One poster describes the store as "very
clasutrophobic." Also hosts the longest-running experimental music
series in Chicago, as well as poetry and the Wicker Park chess club.
Open Mon-Sat 11AM-1AM, Sun 11AM-10PM. (Book-buying hours Fri
6PM-10PM, Sat 11AM-6PM.) [07/05]
Polonia Bookstore (4738 N Milwaukee Ave, 60630, 773-481-6968, FAX 773-481-6972,
http://www.polonia.com). Polish books.
Prairie Avenue Bookshop (711 S Dearborn, 312-922-8311 or 800-474-2724,
FAX 312-922-5184, http://www.pabook.com/). Called
"the best architecture bookstore in the world" by the FINANCIAL TIMES
Quimby's (1854 W North Ave). The hip new counterculture store. They carry
some Semiotext(e) books, lots of comix, piercing and tattoo
magazines, Situationist material, etc.
Red Rover Books (Damen and Augusta). "Tiny general used bookstore, but
prices are good and most of the books that are there are quality
titles. Also has some RPG stuff and terminally un-trendy, which is
fine with me."
Revolution Books (1103 N Ashland Ave at Division, 60622, 773-489-0930,
FAX 773-489-0984). "An independent bookstore with an
all-volunteer staff. It specializes in revolutionary,
internationalist, radical, and progressive non-fiction,
fiction and poetry. Carries both new and used books
in English and Spanish, and also periodicals and pamphlets.
Open Tue-Fri 2PM-7PM, Sat 11AM-7PM.
Selected Works Used Books & Sheet Music (Fine Arts Building,
410 S Michigan Ave. Suite 210). "It's a charming place--much
prettier and more orderly than the previous basement location.
Still eclectic and scholarly. Still has (a) cat. Still the
only place that carries a substantial amount of high-quality
used sheet music." [02/09]
U. S. Government Bookstore (One Congress Center, 401 S State, Suite 124,
312-353-5133, FAX 312-353-1590, email@example.com,
Abraham's Books (613 Dempster). Small, dense, partly alphabetized, okay
philosophy, religion, Judaica. Chessboards on the sidewalk.
Amaranth Books (828 Davis, 847-328-2939). "Was at one time a
specialist store for the works of American humorists and still has
a fairly large selection of works by Ring Lardner, Irving Cobb,
S. J. Perelman and others of this ilk. Lots of Twain! And lots
of early, fairly forgotten, humorists. A pretty good general used
bookstore. Small, clean, well organized." Open Mon-Fri 10AM-6PM,
Sat-Sun 12N-5PM. [07/05]
Barnes & Noble (on Northwestern U campus, in Norris Student Center). The
official campus bookstore.
Chicago Rare Book Center (703 Washington, Evanston). "High-quality
antiquarian book store. Top floor is for collectors.
Nearly everything is behind glass display cases. More
affordable books in the basement. Big on Chicago history
and genre fiction and odd juvenile literature that might
appeal to collectors of children's books." Relocated from
a store on Oak Street in Chicago about 2007. [04/12]
Europa Books (915 Foster St next to Great Expectations). "Wide selection of
foreign books. It's a pretty big store, with shelves to the ceiling;
I never had trouble finding anything."
Howard's Books (previously Booknook Parnasus) (2000 N Maple, 312-475-3445).
Small, dense, somewhat varied, okay in philosophy and Eastern
religion. Books shelved longer than six months are half price.
(Dates are in the books.) Cats. Mon-Fri 11AM-6PM, Sat 11AM-7PM.
Peking Bookstore (in downtown Evanston near Church). It has more Chinese
language and culture related books, periodicals, and such than you
can shake a stick at. Also has a whole bunch of mainland China
propaganda posters in the basement. Apparently several universities
get their language course books through him.
Preservation Books (814 Dempster, 312-864-4449). Mixed quality, not great,
fairly orderly. Cats. Mon-Fri 11AM-6PM, Sat 11AM-5PM.
Student Book Exchange (across the street from either 105 S Wabash or
144 S Clark). A campus bookstore; not much good for anything not
being used as a text, but that covers a lot of ground. Warning:
*don't* try to go during the first week of the quarter; the lines
will be wrapped all through the store, and there's not much space
at the best of times.
Ye Olde Book Worm (229 W Grand Ave). Older hardbounds, newer paperbacks,
orderly and neat, small philosophy, adequate classics, juvenile
series collection, very pricey.
Mt. Prospect IL:
BookMarks (718 E Northwest Highway, 847-398-7767). Prices somewhat
high, but he sometimes has week-long half-price sales. Used to be
Jack's Used Books. [07/05]
Top Shelf Books (47 E Northwest Hwy, a small shopping plaza that also
contains the Bank of Palatine, 847-705-9940). "General used book
store. Prices are good."
The Book Stall (1032 Crosby between 6th and Longwood, 815-963-1671; also
Booth 88, East State Antique Mall.) "This store, occupying several
rooms of a house in a residential neighborhood, advertises an
inventory of 10,000 books, which seems about right. It's cluttered
and somewhat disheveled, but not too badly disordered. Has a bit of
everything (mostly hardbound or trade paperback--pretty good quality
stock), but seems strong in history and regional titles. Prices for
the general used books are quite low--I didn't see anything over $10.
Some rarer antiquarian items there, too. My only complaint is the
short hours." Open Tu, Fri 5PM-8PM, Sat 10AM-5 PM, other hours
St. Charles IL:
Townhouse Books. "Connected by French doors to an ice creamery called Al's
Ice Creamery. The bookstore is a wonderful old Victorian house in
which every room is crammed full of books. They don't really appear
to be in any particular order, but the salespeople always know where
everything is--even the most obscure titles. There are comfortable
chairs in all the corners so you can sit and read forever
Hamakor Judaica (Dempster). Jewish books and Judaica.
The Frugal Muse (just east of I-355). Used books; based out of
Madison, WI. "They have a huge store and for general store
selection, I think they do very well in comparison to others
in the area." [08/06]
Another Barnes & Noble is in southwest suburban Wheaton on Naperville Rd in
Town Square Shopping Center.
There was an annual Brandeis book sale every June in Skokie for
48 years. In 2006, Brandeis had their last one, but the Palatine-based
Little City Foundation announced that they would take it over. They
hope to continue in a tent in the Old Orchard Shopping Center's west
parking lot. (In 2006, the Brandeis sale had 400,000 books.) [08/06]
There are also Book Hunter Press's USED BOOK LOVER'S GUIDE TO [various
regions], seven regional guides to over 7,900 used, out-of-print, and
antiquarian book dealers in the United States and Canada. The complete
database is online and can be searched by location, dealer name, specialty,
and type of dealer. Access to the database is available on a two tier basis:
partial access is free, full access is by subscription.The web page also
includes free access to regional and city maps showing locations with used
bookstores. For more information or a free catalog, check their web page at
Information contained in this FAQ is compiled from many sources. The
compiler accepts no responsibility for the comments contained herein.
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for the information provided within them.
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To support this, this FAQ is Compilation Copyright 2016 by Evelyn C. Leeper
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Evelyn C. Leeper (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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