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Independent Bookstore Guide

By Kari Ferguson

Remember when it felt like every local bookstore you loved was closing? With the stiff competition from a certain digital megalodon and a big shift into ebooks, it seemed like the indie shops were doomed for extinction. Lately, thankfully, independent bookstores have been making a comeback, popping up in little pockets all over, and catering to those who still prefer turning pages over swiping a screen. One such newcomer to Seattle’s indie bookstore scene is Kari Ferguson, who opened Oh Hello Again in Fall 2020 to specialize in children’s books and books that help answer life’s problems. To celebrate Independent Bookstore Day this year, Kari has shared some of her favorite indie booksellers from across the country, where you can go, show your support, and rekindle your love for the printed page.

Independent Bookstore Guide
Saturday April 24th

Remember when it felt like every local bookstore you loved was closing? With the stiff competition from a certain digital megalodon and a big shift into ebooks, it seemed like the indie shops were doomed for extinction. Lately, thankfully, independent bookstores have been making a comeback, popping up in little pockets all over, and catering to those who still prefer turning pages over swiping a screen. One such newcomer to Seattle’s indie bookstore scene is Kari Ferguson, who opened Oh Hello Again in Fall 2020 to specialize in children’s books and books that help answer life’s problems. To celebrate Independent Bookstore Day this year, Kari has shared some of her favorite indie booksellers from across the country, where you can go, show your support, and rekindle your love for the printed page.

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Books of Wonder (NYC)

42 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011
Kari Ferguson

My family and I visited one of the Books of Wonder locations when we were in NYC the summer of 2019. I had just opened my own children’s bookstore and was in love with their cozy atmosphere and well curated section—complete with signed books for sale, classics, and children’s book artwork and posters in the back.

Kari Ferguson
Books of Wonder

Hicklebee’s Children's Books (San Jose)

1378 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125
Kari Ferguson

Hicklebee’s is located on a cute, walkable street in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, CA. They have great events, a wonderful collection of children’s books, and even put branded stickers that say “Hicklebee’s” over the barcode of the books you buy. It’s just too cute (and you’ll never forget where you got that book years later!).

Kari Ferguson
Hicklebee’s Children's Books

Powell's (Portland)

1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209
Kari Ferguson

I had to put it in the list because it really is a great, huge, independent bookstore. My husband and I would go on dates to Powell’s and spend way too much time browsing its multiple levels of used and new books. It’s worth the hype it receives (and is turning 50 this year!).

Kari Ferguson
Powell's City of Books

Grasshopper (Portland)

1816 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211
Kari Ferguson

Grasshopper is not just a bookstore; in fact, the book section is relatively small. It is, however, an amazingly curated store for all things children--hip children, of course. Located in the walkable and wonderful Alberta neighborhood of Portland, it is a stone’s throw from another great children’s bookstore, Green Bean Books. But for me, Grasshopper’s selection is top notch: beautiful books that will remain in your collection because they are just that special.

Kari Ferguson
Grasshopper
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Nowhere Bookshop (San Antonio)

5154 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78209
Kari Ferguson

Like everyone else, I have not yet visited Nowhere Bookshop in person because it has had the rather bad luck to be opening during the COVID pandemic. However, it is the brainchild of hilarious blogger and author Jenny Lawson, and as such, you can imagine the dark whimsy of the shop’s design itself and the superb collection of books therein.

Kari Ferguson
Nowhere Bookshop

Semicolon Bookstore (Chicago)

515 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60642
Kari Ferguson

Not only is Semicolon a black woman owned bookstore in Chicago, but I have to respect it for the fact that its owner, Danielle Mullen, decided to open after walking past the for rent space and thinking, “hmm, why not?” It combines an art gallery space with the bookshop and focuses on literacy and improving their community. What’s not to like?

Kari Ferguson
Semicolon Bookstore

The Bookshop (Nashville)

Nashville, TN
Kari Ferguson

Maybe I love this one because it looks like a bookstore I would create and design: clean, cute, and quirky with a touch of fun, vintage elements. Plus, owner Joelle Herr is also an author in addition to being a bookseller. I can relate! Her book curation is top notch, so if you are even in Nashville, you should definitely make a stop.

Kari Ferguson
The Bookshop
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The Story Shop (Monroe, GA)

124 N Broad St, Monroe, GA 30655
Kari Ferguson

The Story Shop is the type of place that parents and children alike will love to visit, even if it specializes in just children’s books. It’s colorful, whimsical, and filled with surprises for all ages. For example, you literally walk through a Narnia style open wardrobe to get to the story time room. What?!

Kari Ferguson
The Story Shop

The King’s English Bookshop (SLC)

1511 S 1500 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Kari Ferguson

The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah is an icon. It is everything you want a forty-some year old independent bookstore to be: a maze-like arrangement of bookshelves, a cozy atmosphere, and layers upon layers of books and memories.

Kari Ferguson
The King's English Bookshop

Epilogue Books (Chapel Hill, NC)

109 E Franklin St #100, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Kari Ferguson

Not only can you buy books at Epilogue, but you can get a variety of flavored chocolate drinks, coffee, tea, baked goods, and CHURROS. It is LatinX owned, and the book selection is sharp and modern. I don’t know about you, but the whole concept just feels right.

Kari Ferguson
Epilogue Books

The Literary Apothecary (Durham, NC)

Durham, NC 27705
Kari Ferguson

I get asked if I am the only bookstore who deals in bibliotherapy, and I am glad to say no! The Literary Apothecary is an online bookstore selling mostly used but some new books based on your needs. We both used “The Novel Cure” as inspiration and read “The Little Paris Bookshop” before opening our stores, so maybe we are the same person but different? Check it out!

Kari Ferguson
The Literary Apothecary
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