In the age of tablets and e-readers, there are still many people who prefer reading physical copies of books. There is something undeniably enjoyable about shopping for books, and the best places to go for this are small, independent bookstores, where you can get the most for your money. Though places like this are closing increasingly often these days, cities such as Cambridge, MA still have a variety of independent bookstores that offer large sections of fiction, art history, biographies, architecture books, and more. Here’s our pick of the best.
It’s a delight searching through the tall shelves of this cozy Harvard Square bookstore. All the books upstairs are new, but the used basement has many bargains, especially with its sizable collection of art books and graphic novels. It’s a popular spot for readings from guest authors. The store also hosts a semi-annual sale at its warehouse in Somerville, where the prices are extra low. Be sure to get there early though, because the inside of the warehouse fills up quickly!
This Harvard Square spot is a favorite among locals looking to buy and sell used books. Its collection covers a wide range of genres: in addition to an ample fiction section, the shop also carries a large amount of art criticism, psychology, historical, political, and scientific books as well. Even though it is a used book store, the books are always in great shape, and often run between $5-10.
This fascinating store has plenty to offer readers with an interest in New Age, holistic studies, and similar subjects. Not only is it a bookstore, but it’s one of Cambridge’s most popular crystal shops. It sells books on herbs and natural remedies, conspiracy theories, pagan religions, astrology, and a host of other fascinating subjects. It is located a few steps from the Red Line in Central Square.
If you’re looking for rare and out-of-print books, head to Rodney’s in Central Square, which has a huge collection of used books. You’ll even be able to find some literary classics for as little as $1, which makes this the perfect place to pick up some of those books you’ve been meaning to read for ages. Rodney’s also sells a bunch of knick-knacks and toys, and also offers custom poster printing services.
While most of Cambridge’s bookstores are located around Harvard and Central Squares, Porter Square Books serves as a resource for the northern half of Cambridge and Somerville. This store’s specialty is definitely fiction, which occupies the largest section of the store. They also sell many quirky games and toys and have a large children’s section. After buying your books, take a seat in Café Zing—located right inside the store—to grab a beverage and read!
Located in Central Square, Pandemonium caters to a customer base with a strong interest in science fiction and fantasy. On top of its collection of independent sci-fi books, it is also a game store, selling all the accessories for a number of board and card games. It also serves as a gathering spot for the local gamer community, hosting game nights to play Magic the Gathering, Pokémon, and more.
This little comic book shop sits on the lower floor of a building in Harvard Square. It stocks a large selection of independently published comic books, graphic novels, and manga. The helpful and patient staff are always eager to help answer any questions customers might have. The store is great for longtime comic readers, those just getting into their first graphic novels, or people just picking up gifts for someone else.
This might be the most niche—as well as the hardest to find—bookstore in Cambridge. Located north of Harvard Square, off a garden in back of a building, this little shop specializes in antique and out-of-print books on horses and various equestrian subjects. They also have an extensive collection of rare architecture books, as well as other titles on various subjects. This store is off the beaten path, and easy to miss!