The Best Indie Bookstores In California's Southern Bay Area

Lillian Chen

Bookstores are some of the best places to get inspired as you read about other people’s lives or delve into fairytale lands. While commonly seen as a dying breed, there are still bookstores out there working hard to provide a place filled with material to keep you browsing for a good hour or three. Independent bookstores are often more unique than the standard Barnes & Noble – here are our six favorites in the South Bay.

Kepler’s Books

Kepler’s Books

Kepler’s is considered a special landmark in Menlo Park, where it was first founded in 1955 by Roy Kepler and is currently run by his son, Clark Kepler. The bookstore regularly holds author events and has hosted a variety of well-known individuals. In addition to having a constantly updated selection of books, the store also has plenty of staff recommendations placed among its shelves.
Kepler’s Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA, USA, +1 650 324 4321

A kids’ reading event at Books Inc

Books Inc

Books Inc has a great selection of books while still retaining the homey feel of a local store. This particular location in Mountain View has a coffee shop on the second floor, which is perfect for reading a title you just picked up on the lower level. Staff picks and book reviews are also displayed throughout the shelves, which are helpful if you’re looking for something new to read.
Books Inc, 301 Castro St, Mountain View, CA, USA, +1 650 428 1234

A selection of Japanese comics at Kinokuniya Book Store

Kinokuniya Book Store

Kinokuniya is a well-known Japanese bookstore chain that sells Japanese magazines, books, and comics. Even if you don’t know any Japanese, the store has plenty of other merchandise worth browsing and looking at. There is an extensive and very cute collection of stationery, greeting cards, writing utensils, and gifts that offer something different than what you would find at a regular bookstore. Prices can be a little steep but you’re sure to be getting something unique for what you pay for.
Kinokuniya Book Store, Mitsuwa Marketplace, 675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA, USA, +1 408 252 1300

Village House of Books

If you love small, cozy stores filled with interesting knick knacks, Village House of Books might be just what you’re looking for. The selection of books isn’t the biggest but it makes up for it by having a unique, quirky selection of gifts and stationery. The store has the ambiance of an antique shop without the clutter and dust and is perfect for casual browsing.
Village House of Books, 21 W Main Street, Los Gatos, CA, USA, +1 408 354 7100

Interior of Ink Spell Books

Ink Spell Books

Ink Spell Books has a nice mix of both new and used books for sale and is worth a trip to see what kind of gems you might find on their shelves. The slightly worn feel of the shop’s interior may be a turnoff for some but for others, it acts as the perfect homey atmosphere in which to get absorbed in a good book. The shelves are stacked deep with books so for anyone looking to get lost in turning pages, this is the place for you.
Ink Spell Books, 500 Purissima St., Half Moon Bay, CA, USA, +1 650 726 6571

Culture Trip Summer Sale

Save up to $1,395 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article