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East End Book Exchange | © Paul Sableman/Flickr
East End Book Exchange | © Paul Sableman/Flickr

11 Of The Coolest Bookstores In & Around Pittsburgh, PA

Picture of Sandra Sanchez
Updated: 31 October 2016
There’s no arguing the fact that Pittsburgh is a city that loves the written word; visitors and locals will find a lengthy list of great independent bookstores in and around the city. What makes Pittsburgh’s bookstores particularly unique is they truly care about local authors and not only by selling their books but also by organizing and promoting their events, talks, and signings – with or without a publisher. Here are 11 of the coolest bookstores in and around the ‘Burgh.

Spaces Corners

Founded in 2011 by artist Melissa Catanese, Spaces Corners is a lovely space: a photography bookstore, a gallery, and a project space dedicated to contemporary photography. Situated in Troy Hill, this unique bookstore offers a carefully curated selection of books, including rare and out-of-print pieces, and space for photography events and fairs.

Spaces Corners, 1721 Lowrie St, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

 

Classic Lines

With an excellent selection of both new and used books and special support for local writers, Classic Lines has a comfy environment to sit, relax and read for a while. If you have kids in tow, you’ll also find a special little space for kids and some signed copies. But Classic Lines is more than just books – you can also stock up on vintage housewares, home and garden décor, fine art, gifts, and more. Don’t miss this unique spot, conveniently located in the beautiful Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

Classic Lines, 5825 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, +1 412 422 2220

Courtesy of Classic Lines

Courtesy of Classic Lines

The Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore & Cafe

A big idea, indeed — The Big Idea Bookstore is a non-profit establishment that defines itself as having a radical, democratic and anarchist modus operandi, wishing to instruct and inspire people through literature that is beyond any prejudices. Their shelves boast hundreds of new and used books, but you can also pick up stickers, patches, pins, greeting cards, and more. The Big Idea is the perfect spot to sit and have a read over a cup of coffee in the trendy neighborhood of Bloomfield, Pittsburgh’s Little Italy neighborhood.

The Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore & Cafe, 4812 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, +1 412 687 4323

Courtesy of The Big Idea Bookstore

Courtesy of The Big Idea Bookstore

Phantom of the Attic

The ‘best-named bookstore’ award goes to Phantom of the Attic Comics, which supports two establishments: one for books and one for games. Both shops are just steps away from CMU and PITT campuses on the trendy Craig Avenue, in Oakland. This rare and unique space is paradise for collectors and comic lovers who can also enjoy having a chat with the friendly and knowledgeable staff who won’t hesitate to look out for that one comic that you can’t find.

Phantom of the Attic, 411 S Craig St, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, +1 412 621 1210

Courtesy of Phantom of the Attic

Courtesy of Phantom of the Attic

Penguin Bookshop

The biggest and oldest independent bookstore that’s definitely worth the short ride out of town is the Penguin Bookshop. Situated in the heart of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, just 20 minutes away from the city, Penguin Book Shop has also been recommended by the one and only Stephen King in End of Watch. Founded in 1929, this historic shop has an extensive collection of books for all ages plus journals, cards, newspapers, and magazines. It’s a place to read and find that story you need along with story times, games and craft for your kids, or you can attend book-signing events. This place is a must-see whether you live in Pittsburgh, or you’re just passing by.

Penguin Bookshop, 417 Beaver St, Sewickley, PA, USA, +1 412 741 3838

Courtesy of Penguin Book Shop

Courtesy of Penguin Book Shop

Caliban Book Shop

Also situated on the trendy Craig Avenue in Oakland is the Caliban Book Shop. One of the most fascinating things about this bookstore is their intriguing collector items, making Caliban possibly the best bookstore in and around the city for book collectors looking for that hard-to-find piece. Caliban Book Shop also offers professional appraisal services and is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), which is the main professional organization of book dealers and appraisers specializing in rare books. Don’t miss out!

Caliban Book Shop, 410 S Craig St, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, +1 412 681 9111

Courtesy of Caliban Book Shop

Courtesy of Caliban Book Shop

East End Book Exchange

Situated in the heart of Bloomfield, the East End Book Exchange buys and sells used, rare, and local books. With an excellent selection of both popular and unusual used books, this local bookstore is another great place in the city to visit and spend some time. Ask for books recommendations from the keen and friendly staff, bring the kids to enjoy their own cute space, and don’t forget to check out the events section so that you can nab your own signed copy.

East End Book Exchange, 4754 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, +1 412 224 2847

Courtesy of East End Book Exchange

Courtesy of East End Book Exchange

Rickert & Beagle Books

‘Perfectly strange, strangely perfect’ as they call themselves – Rickert & Beagle Books is a treasure worth the visit. This hidden gem is situated just 15 minutes away from downtown and is a haven for science-fiction, horror, and fantasy lovers. Every other Tuesday from 6:45 pm to 9 pm, the Word Writer’s Group reunites to discuss the craft of writing and to critique each other’s work. And calling all crafters: Rickert & Beagle Books hosts a once-monthly crafts and ‘fairly odd conversation event.

Rickert & Beagle Books, 3233 West Liberty Ave., Dormont, PA, USA, +1 412 344 7444

Courtesy of Rickert & Beagle Books

Courtesy of Rickert & Beagle Books

Amazing Books

With three different locations including those in Squirrel Hill and Oakland, Amazing Books happens to be the only used bookstore in downtown Pittsburgh and with one of the friendliest owners in the city, Eric Ackland. Vinyl lovers take note: Amazing Books recently added records to their three locations, and Ackland is planning on starting a writer’s school in the Squirrel Hill locale and an all-vegan café in their Oakland location – two amazing ideas!

Multiple Locations in Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Courtesy of Amazing Books

Courtesy of Amazing Books

Beyond Bedtime Books

In the small community of Dormont, just 11 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, lies one of the most charming bookstores around, Beyond Bedtime Books. This cute spot has it all – from a broad selection of books to a welcoming feeling, not to mention a knowledgeable and friendly owner, Jamie, who will help you find the perfect gift. Stopping by with kids is also a good idea, as a cute little space is designed for them in the back to explore their own love of reading, providing a magical literary experience.

Beyond Bedtime Books, 1453 Potomac Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, +1 412 341 3838

Courtesy of Beyond Bedtime Books

Courtesy of Beyond Bedtime Books

Mystery Lovers Bookshop

Are you in Oakmont looking for thrillers, crime stories, espionage, and mystery fiction? Mystery Lovers Bookshop has it all and happens to be one of the largest mystery bookstores in the entire country. The Mystery Writers of America awarded Mystery Lovers Bookshop with a Raven Award in 2010 as recognition for their contribution to mystery writing. They also have a gorgeous weekly e-newsletter – a must-read when it comes to being updated on upcoming events and books plus reviews. While Mystery Lovers mainly sells new books, don’t miss out on their collection of signed first editions!

Mystery Lovers Bookshop, 514 Allegheny River Blvd, Oakmont, PA, USA, +1 412 828 4877

Courtesy of Mystery Lovers Bookstore

Courtesy of Mystery Lovers Bookstore