A Guide To Florida's Best Independent Bookstores

The Locals-Only Gulf Coast Bookstore in Ft Myers focuses on displaying and selling the books of local authors | Courtesy of Everglades NPA/flickr
The Locals-Only Gulf Coast Bookstore in Ft Myers focuses on displaying and selling the books of local authors | Courtesy of Everglades NPA/flickr
Photo of Laurence Kidd
24 October 2016

We live in a digital age, there’s no denying it. It’s becoming more and more difficult to detach ourselves from our smart phones, TVs, internet, etc. In the arena of entertainment, it seems as if books have quickly gone from number 1 to number 100 on our list. One questions whether there’s any need for bookstores. Do people even read books anymore? Well, thankfully, the answer is yes, people do read, and bookstores are still popular. There’s a certain sense of intimacy at brick-and-mortar bookstores — not only can you find new and old books, but you can speak with actual people who recognize the sanctity of the suddenly antiquated establishment we call the independent bookstore.

Here at Culture Trip, we understand that knowledge is power, and when you enter a bookstore, you’re surrounded by the knowledge, creativity, and imagination of thousands of people whose written words will live forever on the printed page. In the literary spirit of great Floridian authors such as Ernest Hemingway, John D. MacDonald, and Carl Hiaasen, we present the best bookstores in Florida.

Key West Island Books

Specializing in Key West’s local writers, Key West Island Books has hundreds of titles from some of Key West and South Florida’s most famous authors, past and present. They have an extensive collection of new, used, and rare books including new releases and New York Times best sellers. If you’re traveling to Key West and happen to visit the famous Hemingway Home, you might get inspired to read one of his timeless classics such as A Farewell To Arm or For Whom The Bell Tolls. Key West Island Books has all things Hemingway, should you decide that you are in need of a great piece of 20th-century literature.

Love going to bookstores searching for local cookbooks and special treasures. Who's with me on loving old/new-to-me books?

A photo posted by k a t e l e w i s (@_kate_lewis) on

The Bookshelf

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The Bookshelf has been the Tallahassee (state capital) headquarters for new comics and used books since 1980. They specialize in all things having to do with comic books, graphic novels, and collectibles. But don’t worry, we know that some people actually like reading; so, for the more literary among us, The Bookshelf is here for you, too. Sift through the thousands of used novels in every genre, in soft and hard back, from modern best sellers to vintage series, most priced at 65% off their cover price. The store also has a second location at Killearn.

Best Books Rich Treasures

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Best Books Rich Treasures is an independent, veteran- and woman-owned family bookstore in Tampa, Florida, with quite a history. What started out as a couple of traveling vendors in Virginia evolved into a successful small company that now has four locations in the United States and two abroad in Turkey and South Korea. These bookstores are usually located near military bases, because the owners themselves are members of a military family. The Tampa location is staffed with knowledgeable employees who are keen to assist you in finding what you need. They have a great collection of new, used, and rare books. Also, as an added convenience, all of their inventory is listed under their online shopping tab, so feel free to shop online and ship books to most parts of the world.

Gulf Coast Bookstore

Let’s head on over to the west coast of Florida for our next featured location. Fort Myers is home to the Gulf Coast Bookstore, located near the beautiful Butterfly Estates near the downtown area. The interesting thing about this bookstore is that they only sell books written by local authors; there are 54 of them to be exact, and you can browse the front-facing displays to find the perfect book. The concept was hatched in 2014 when two local literary community activists, Patti Jefferson and Timothy Jacobs, joined forces to bring recognition to local authors and establish a place where their books would take center stage.

1815 Fowler St, Fort Myers, FL, USA

Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore

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Murder by the Beach Mystery Bookstore specialize in thrillers, crime novels, and mysteries
Murder by the Beach Mystery Bookstore specialize in thrillers, crime novels, and mysteries | Courtesy of Chris Drumm/Flickr
This Delray Beach bookstore makes our list for their famous and extensive collection of mystery books and signed novels by Florida authors. For avid readers of anything suspenseful, thrilling, and caked in mystery, Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore is the place to be. Feel free to join their book club and keep an eye out for mystery book signings. The upcoming day before Halloween party will be a great opportunity to have fun, eat candy, and listen to 13 guest authors talk about their books while dressed is scary costumes.

Big Apple Book Store

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Here’s one for the kids. Fort Lauderdale has a few good bookstores actually, and Barnes and Noble is always down the street if you can’t find what you need, but we’re here to praise the effort and dedication of the small and independent bookstores. So with that in mind we present to you the Big Apple Book Store. If you’ve got kids in tow on your day off, you might want to think about introducing them to the store’s children’s story time, hosted by Big Apple every Tuesday at 10am. Although they specialize in children’s literature, Big Apple has titles in a wide variety of genres. And with prices as low as $2 at their weekend sales, you’re bound to pick up a stack of great reads!

Books and Books

With three locations in Miami, and affiliate stores in Grand Cayman, Westhampton Beach, Miami International Airport, and The Studios in Key West, Books and Books is one of South Florida’s biggest literary success stories. Founded in 1982 by Mitchell Kaplan as a locally owned independent bookstore, Books and Books serves as a community center for writers and readers, hosting 60 author events a month and featuring a carefully curated selection of books, magazines, and gift items. For a full list of upcoming author events at Books and Books, click here.

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