In a time of big-box retailers and e-readers, the independent bookstore has gotten more attention for its struggles than anything else. But in Pittsburgh, which happens to have a thriving literary scene, independent bookstores are going strong, whether you’re looking for new or used, rare or genre-specific. Pittsburgh’s independent bookstores truly have something for every bookworm, with many stores hosting readings and signings from visiting writers or showcasing the city’s own talent. Here are five of the best.
East End Book Exchange
4754 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Though it began as a pop-up store which moved around the city, Bloomfield’s East End Book Exchange found a permanent home in 2012 and has become a hub for the city’s literary scene. The bulk of their inventory is used and includes some pretty impressive collectibles, although you will find some new releases, especially by local writers. And when it comes to local writers, East End Book Exchange doesn’t just sell their books. They feature readings, as well, for both local and traveling writers, hosting up to about 50 events throughout the year. They average one event a week, sometimes more, making them the perfect place to get involved in the local literary scene and stock your bookshelf too.
Rickert And Beagle
3233 W. Liberty Ave.
Dormont, PA 15216
Formerly Eljay’s Used Books, Rickert and Beagle is a go-to for fans of sci-fi, horror and fantasy. The store also features some collectibles, as well as the occasional odds and ends perfect for bookworms, like Christmas-tree ornaments made from recycled books and handmade jewelry. While they do feature the occasional reading and signing, their events are geared more towards the creative, with a writer’s group that meets every other Tuesday and a craft group that meets once a month.
Caliban Book Shop
410 S. Craig St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
If rare and collectible books are what you’re after, then Caliban in Oakland is the place for you, especially if you’re looking to sell your own rare collectibles. Perhaps even more impressive than their stock of rarities is their warehouse, which holds about 150,000 books. You can stop by if you’re interested, but it’s by appointment only. In addition to the rare books, Caliban also offers books and zines from local writers.
Related: Best Hobby Shops In Pittsburgh
417 Beaver St.
Sewickley, PA 15143
Penguin Bookshop, the oldest independent bookstore in the city, opened in 1929. In addition to selling books, they also host plenty of events; they’ll even host your book club and give members 10% off their chosen titles. Like many other local stores, they also showcase local talent, and in 2015, they took it a step further to recognize self-published works with Penguin Bookshop Celebrates Self-Published Authors Day, an event they plan to repeat this year. Of course, the store also offers resources for writers, having recently started the Penguin Bookshop Writers Series, which features writers and publishers who discuss the art and business of writing.
3138 Dobson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
For lovers of comic books and graphic novels, Copacetic has you covered, but don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all they have to offer. Located on the top floor of a building that also houses a coffee shop and record store, Copacetic also sells new books, with an inventory tailored to their customer base, which includes a healthy dose of memoirs by musicians and books about the music industry.
Janelle Sheetz is a 20-something closed-captioner by day, writer by night, just outside of Pittsburgh. She also regularly contributes to AXS.com and Examiner.com, and her writing has also been featured on The Billfold and Neutrons Protons.