The Best Independent Bookstores in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Robert Pearl gives a book talk at Politics and Prose Bookstore
Dr. Robert Pearl gives a book talk at Politics and Prose Bookstore | © Ted Eytan / Flickr

Washington, D.C. is a city of voracious readers. Maybe it’s because it’s home to the Library of Congress? Whatever the reason, locals here are crazy for books – they lined up for the midnight release of Fire and Fury. But it’s not just political reading – the capital was ranked number six on Forbes’ smartest city in the world list last year. Join the crowd: stop by any of these five amazing, independent bookstores and discover your new favorite book.

1. The Potter's House


© Elvert Barnes / Flickr

Part bookstore, part cafe, part community hangout, The Potter’s House has everything you could ever want. There are readings, live music, and comfy chairs to curl up in. The non-profit bookstore is the best place to hang out and engage in thoughtful conversation.

2. Kramerbooks & Afterwords


© Daniel Lobo / Flickr

Enjoy a good book and glass of wine at this indie bookstore/cafe. Kramerbooks & Afterwords is the perfect place to find the hottest books and “checkout” fellow bibliophiles (that was a book pun for you). Scour the calendar before going and attend a reading.

3. Politics and Prose Bookstore


3. Politics and Prose Bookstore
© Politics and Prose Bookstore/Flickr
A D.C. staple, Politics and Prose is home to 18 in-house bookclubs and offers numerous events and speakers. More than a charming bookstore, it is also a printing press that helps local authors self-publish. Hole up at “The Den,” a cozy coffeehouse and bar, and delve into the latest political thriller. You might even catch the Obamas picking up a new read.

4. Idle Time Books


© kmf164 / Flickr

Ready for a blast from the past? Idle Time Books specializes in used and out-of-print titles. Get lost among the three floors and pick up a rare first edition. You can also browse CDs, greeting cards, and old magazines. It’s the perfect oasis on the busy 18th Street.

5. Capitol Hill Books


© LWYang / Flickr

Get ready for an amazing treasure hunt at Capitol Hill Books. This store specializes in used books and is a reader’s paradise. The small and helpful staff will help you find a specific title or you can browse the two floors for whatever takes your fancy. You can also drop off used books that you have finished.

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