Bookstores in Chicago

 

Last change: 
20 Apr 2016

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Cities (listed geographically north-to-south, east-to-west) include: 
Chicago IL (and other IL) 
Comments 
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 
AND STATE.*] 

[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 
updating them.]

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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, 
	books@semcoop.com, 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 
	9AM-5PM.  

Northside:

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, 
	Sun 12N-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 
	Judaica.  
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.  

Other Chicago:

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 
	poetry.  
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 
	of London.  
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, chicagobks@ibm.net, 
	http://bookstore.gpo.gov/locations/).  

Evanston IL: 

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.  

Elmhurst IL: 

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]  

Palatine IL:

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."

Rockford IL: 

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 
	irregularly.  

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  

Skokie IL: 
	Hamakor Judaica (Dempster).  Jewish books and Judaica.  

Darien IL:

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]

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Comments: 

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 
http://bookhunterpress.com/.

=========================================================================== 
Copyright Notice 

Information contained in this FAQ is compiled from many sources.  The 
compiler accepts no responsibility for the comments contained herein.  
The comments are provided "as is" with no warranty, express or implied, 
for the information provided within them.  

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To support this, this FAQ is Compilation Copyright 2016 by Evelyn C. Leeper 
(the FAQ maintainer).  

============================================================================ 


Evelyn C. Leeper (eleeper@optonline.net)

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