Cleveland, Ohio, has a vibrant literary landscape that includes the novelist Sherwood Anderson and the poet-critic Richard Howard. It’s also home to a wide variety of successful independent bookstores. We’ve handpicked eight of the best indie bookshops in Cleveland for your browsing pleasure.
Horizontal Books is an independent bookstore just steps from The West Side Market in the historic Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland. In a unique twist, books are stacked horizontally on the shelves. From the outside, it looks like a used bookstore, but all the books are new and offered at deeply discounted prices: 50 percent off the jacket price for one book, 60 percent off two books and 70 percent off all of your books if you buy three or more. This locally owned and operated bookstore is a fun place to get lost in for an afternoon.
Visible Voice Books is a relaxed, browsable bookstore up the stairs in a historical building in the Tremont neighborhood. The store specializes in journalism and creative nonfiction, contemporary poetry, lesser-known authors and social justice-centered books. Visible Voice also serves up Gimme! Coffee, Metolius Tea and treats from Alesci’s Bakery and features a full wine and beer bar with drinks to enjoy while shopping, reading or listening to a live poetry performance.
Mac’s Backs, in the neighborhood of Cleveland Heights near Case Western Reserve University, is jam-packed with three floors of paperback books. It’s especially known for its massive genre sections, particularly mysteries, science fiction and romance. You can also head over to Mac’s Backs for writing workshops, book clubs (feminist, general, human rights and science fiction) and book signings. Cleveland’s famous Tommy’s Restaurant is right next door, so you can head over for milkshakes or great food after browsing.
The friendly owner and Hobbes, the store cat, both encourage browsing and conversation at this Lakewood, Ohio, gem. This used bookstore recently moved into new digs but retains its local and friendly vibe. A diverse selection with an emphasis on quality is well organized on the shelves, making the indie shop a refreshing respite from big-box stores.
New owners recently purchased this downtown Chagrin Falls, Ohio, institution that has served Cleveland-area readers since 1963. The business has been family owned from the beginning, and the new owners are both former employees of the store. Therefore, the traditions of this long-time business live on. Fireside Book Shop accepts gently used books through a trade-in program that gives you credit that you can spend on anything in the store. Book signings, creative writing workshops and local authors truly make this shop part of the community.
The Learned Owl has been in a historic building on Main Street in Hudson, Ohio, since 1968. The shop carries books for all ages, greeting cards and jigsaw puzzles on three floors and sells eBooks through their website. The owner is often on-site and enjoys personally helping customers find the right book. Reading nooks, a creaky staircase, staff selections and a kids’ section make this store unique. In keeping with the store’s Northeast Ohio roots, there are sections dedicated to local authors, cookbooks and artwork.
Loganberry Books, in the historic district of Larchmere, carries over 100,000 used, new and rare titles. One of Cleveland’s flagship independent bookstores, Loganberry has been open for over 20 years. It is a great place to spend a quiet afternoon of browsing in a spacious, cheery atmosphere, but it’s also home to dozens of special events, author signings, discussion groups, open mics, book festivals and local literary events every year.
Appletree Books is a picturesque bookshop tucked into the historic Heights Center in the Cedar/Fairmount area near Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood. Appletree specializes in gorgeously illustrated books, travel and bestsellers, children’s books and work by regional and local authors. In addition to a wide variety of books, Appletree also has a lovely gift shop with odds and ends, bookends, candles and a range of artisanal greeting cards by local and national writers and illustrators.