The Best Independent Bookstores in San Diego

The Best Bookstores in San Diego
The Best Bookstores in San Diego | © Abhi Sharma / Flickr
Juliet Bennett Rylah

From military history to gripping mysteries, San Diego’s independently owned and operated bookstores offer a wide selection of new, used and rare books and magazines. Some serve coffee and snacks if you’d like to curl up and stay awhile, and at least one of them also has the added bonus of a few furry employees who wouldn’t mind a few pets. Here are seven of San Diego’s top bookstores.

Loved by over 40s

Bluestocking Books

Bookstore, Store

Bluestocking Books
Courtesy of Bluestocking Books
Bluestocking Books (not to be confused with Manhattan bookstore Bluestockings) in Hillcrest sells a mixture of affordably priced, used books as well as a few new titles. It’s small, but well organized and tidy, with an amicable, responsive staff. It’s just what you want in a neighborhood bookstore. You can search their titles online, and you can trade in your own used books for store credit.

Upstart Crow Bookstore & Coffeehouse

Coffee Shop, American

Upstart Crow Bookstore & Coffeehouse is a cozy and colorful space that feels like and resembles your eccentric aunt’s house, except that your aunt also makes delicious coffee and espresso drinks and keeps a case full of baked goods on hand. The bookstore not only stocks new books but gifts and greeting cards too.

Verbatim Books


Verbatim Books sells used and rare books, as well as zines and works from local authors. Visitors may also sell gently used books for cash or store credit. Verbatim Poetry Society, their monthly poetry open mic, meets every second Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Adams Avenue Book Store

Bookstore, Shop, Store

Felixia prowls the shop
Courtesy of Adams Avenue Books
Adams Avenue Book Store puts an emphasis on academic texts, with subjects including history, theology, philosophy and significant works of literature. Guests may want to pay particular attention to two of the store’s employee: Bartleby and Felixia, the shop cats. They may desire an ear scratch or two while you browse.


Bookstore, Store

Warwick’s has a long history. Its founder, William T. Warwick, was selling books back in Iowa in the late 1800s, but he later moved from the Midwest to La Jolla, where his sister lived. In 1939, Warwick purchased Redding’s Book Store in La Jolla from Genevieve Redding, a widow who had founded the shop with her husband in 1902. The two would eventually marry, and the store has remained in the Warwick family ever since. It sells books, stationery, and gifts, and is well known for its many big-name author signings.

Bay Books

Bay Books

Founded in 1990, Bay Books sits near the North Island Naval Air Station, Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and the Naval Amphibious Base. As such, their already ample stock of books contains a large section on military history. They also offer gifts and a wide selection of magazines.
Bay Books, 1029 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA, USA, +1 619 435 0070

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore

Bookstore, Shop

Owner Maryelizabeth Yturralde at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore
©Mark Yturralde/Courtesy of Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore is an offbeat shop that has been around for 20 years, summing up its eclectic collection with the alliteration, “Martians, Murder, Magic and Mayhem (with occasional Masks, Matchmaking, and Munchkins).” They specialize in genre fiction, which means it’s a perfect place to find that gripping mystery, sci-fi, fantasy or horror novel. They also feature work authored by locals.
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