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2013 CNN Travel: Best Indie Bookstores

Brick and mortar: Best indie bookstores

By Hilary Davidson, Special to CNN
updated 11:51 AM EDT, Wed May 1, 2013


Editor's note: Author and travel writer Hilary Davidson recently went on tour to promote her latest mystery, "Evil in All its Disguises." CNN.com asked her to pick her favorite independent bookstores.

(CNN) -- In the age of Amazon and e-books, common wisdom claims that brick-and-mortar bookstores are going the way of the dinosaurs. If a national chain such as Borders, which folded in 2011, couldn't succeed in this climate, what are the odds of an independent shop going the distance?

Surprisingly good, it turns out.

I've published three novels over the past three years, and each time I head out on tour, I discover amazing bookstores. While it's hard to beat the Internet for sheer efficiency, virtual book-buying can't satisfy the same itch for discovery that browsing in person can. Moreover, it's become easy to love e-books and local stores since Kobo started partnering with independents to make some 3 million titles available electronically.

The stores that are succeeding offer a mix of author visits, staff recommendations and community outreach that's impossible to replace. While there are incredible indies all over North America, these are my favorites:


Subterranean Books: St. Louis

When Subterranean opened in 2000, it carried a mix of new and secondhand books; since then, it's shifted its focus to carrying only new books. But they don't try to stock everything. Instead, they've carved out a niche with cult-classic novels, intriguing offerings from small presses, and books about film, pop culture and history. Everything in the store has been personally selected by staff members, so their recommendations are deeply personal.

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