The Best Indie Bookstores in Austin
From comics to all things anarchy, Bat City has got you covered.
A few years back, a popular sign went up in the windows of book stores across the country, "Buy books from people who want to sell books, not colonize the moon." It's hard to argue against that sentiment, and we wouldn't want to. Independent bookstores, like other locally-owned shops, have had a tough time fighting against major online retailers of late and the situation here in Austin is no exception. With Austin's landscape changing so much over the years, all of the great independent book stores in town that have been here for decades or sprouted up in recent years, are definitely places we want to keep around. It's a wonderful feeling to be around people who love reading. Getting first-hand passionate accounts and recommendations for your next read is such a fun experience, and with so many of these places also offering online shipping, there's no reason not to choose these places over the big guys.
Whether you're picking up the latest new release or adding a few more books to the pile that "you will get to eventually," here's a list of all our favorite independent bookstores in town.
In many ways, BookPeople is Austin's premier independent bookstore. It opened its doors way back in 1970 and it still manages a massive space with a huge selection of titles that feels incredibly welcoming. Throughout their two floors, you'll find perhaps the largest selection of books on this list, an in-house coffee shop, and shelves full of colorful book recommendation cards written by their staff members. The place has been known to get many big-name authors to stop by, so visit the website to see their upcoming book signings and other events.
This shop is for hard-core literari. The staff here really knows their stuff, and they do an excellent job at fostering a nurturing and creative space for the community. One unique feature of the store is their staff-curated book bundles, which contain a handful of titles that pair well together, all at a discounted price. With an overall focus on lesser-known and emerging artists, this is a great place to discover a hidden gem.
Black Pearl Books
Black Pearl Books has been a local darling of late. After a successful past few years, this Black-owned shop founded by Katrina Brooks just relocated to its cozy new brick-and-mortar location on Burnet Road. With a strong focus on community, one of their current initiatives sees them partnering with local school librarians and teachers to increase access to banned and embattled books. It's a well-loved spot that is a must-see—and must-support—for any local book-lover.
BookWoman offers an intimate environment but with a comparable selection to the bigger stores, especially in terms of contemporary fiction and nonfiction. It has an exceptionally friendly staff, and a catalog of works that focuses on books by and about women and queer folks. If you want to get a sense of what the store is like, you only need to follow their Instagram, where the team frequently posts pictures of all the staff members' cats.
Resenticia Books is part of Red Salmon Arts, a grassroots cultural organization founded by prison rights activist Raúl Salinas. Part of their mission is to offer resources to working-class Chicana/o, Latino/a, and Native American communities to better understand their culture, arts, and ancestors. Resistencia does just that, allowing you to find a diverse spread of literature and poetry from both established and emerging artists.
Austin Books & Comics
If you've been wanting to branch out into a new medium, this shop has you covered with their wide selection of comics, manga, and graphic novels. Catch up on the latest releases from the big two publishing houses of DC and Marvel, or seek out some more obscure titles and collectibles. Getting into comics can seem intimidating. But the staff of this long-running Austin staple has a reputation for being very helpful and knowledgeable.
Monkey Wrench Books
A self-described radical bookstore, MonkeyWrench Books provides Austinites with an all-volunteer, collectively-run community experience. The shop focuses on political texts and emphasizes anarchist and revolutionary zines, books, and articles. It’s also a social hub, where they host an Anarchist study group every Monday. Check it off if you want to see what they are all about. As a nice bonus, it also has a shop cat who hangs around the store.
South Congress Books
South Congress Books is one of the cooler spots on Austin's main street. It's a small yet beautiful space with a well-curated selection of books, old music posters, and small art prints. And it’s a great spot for collectors since they carry a good deal of signed first edition books.
Vintage Books and Wine
An exciting new addition to the Austin bookstore scene opens up this September. Reading is fun, but reading with a glass of wine in hand is even better. As the name implies, it's a bookstore and wine bar all in one. Owner Jean Elizabeth Buckner imagines the space as "Austin's living room." In addition to glasses of wine, as you browse, you'll be able to enjoy grazing boxes sourced from Cultured ATX, kolaches, and a wide selection of coffees, teas, and Austin area beers.