Here are my top five favorite bookstores of all time (any era, any place, with the caveat that I haven’t traveled much):
1. Tattered Cover, Denver
I’ve been to a lot of bookstores in my life and this is still my favorite. I miss the days when it was just the Cherry Creek store and the LoDo store and if I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the Cherry Creek store since it had more of a homey feel and less of a downtown feel—and I loved the restaurant on top.
2. Four Corners, Colorado Springs
For me, this was the perfect used bookstore (around 1994). Sadly, it is no more. It changed hands a couple of times and then closed for good. No idea what happened to their stock. It was huge. Tons of my Nabokov paperbacks and Nicholson Baker UK editions and Updike rarities were picked up there on the cheap.
3. The Strand, NYC
Again, I like the Broadway & 12th location a lot, but I loved the now-defunct Fulton St. Annex location—mainly because it was less crowded and felt less picked over. I never went into the Strand looking to buy anything in particular, always just to browse.
4. BookPeople, Austin TX
Maybe it’s because I’ve been to this one the most in the past few years, but I’ve always loved it. Their bargain section is not huge, the coffee shop is not great, but it has such a great atmosphere that I could spend hours there easily.
5. Powell’s, Portland OR
In fairness, I only spent two days here. I loved it—huge selection, tons of used books, nice cafe. A lot of people rank this as their #1 shop, but it’s just not my #1.
Honorable mentions: Chinook Bookshop, Poor Richards, Boulder Bookstore, McKenzie-White, Davis-Kidd, Three Lives & Co., Biography Bookshop, Politics & Prose
Store I would most like to visit: Booked Up, Archer City, TX
Town I would most like to visit (for book shopping): Hay on Wye