Just walking into a bookstore, with its tightly packed shelves, is enough to make your mind buzz with infinite potential. It's simply thrilling to think that every book is willing to reveal its secret knowledge and reciprocate or remake your fascination — or disillusion — with the world. Yes to reading! To mark Independent Book Store Day, which lands on May 2, and in celebration of books and the places that sell them, here is a list of Denver’s Top Ten Independent Bookstores. Like books? Take a look!
10) The Bookies Bookstore
4315 East Mississippi Avenue
Motivated by the belief that, "you are not a bad reader, you just need to find the right book," Bookies founder and owner Sue Lubeck runs one of Denver's most comprehensive bookstores featuring children's literature. Bookies staff even work with area schools to craft reading lists for students, and the store offers a perennial discount on its books running from 10 to 15 percent — for everyone, not just teachers. A small but high quality selection of contemporary and classic literature is available to keep parents occupied.
9) Capitol Hill Books
300 East Colfax Avenue
You can find just about anything at Capitol Hill Books, with it's larger than average selection of fiction and a choice selection of non-fiction covering everything from literary criticism to music history.
8) City Stacks Books and Coffee
1743 Wazee Street
City Stacks stacks up well. Never mind the audacity of opening up a new bookshop in the digital age only a few blocks from independent bookstore giant Tattered Cover: City Stacks offers a smart yet accessible inventory of mostly new books — including a surprisingly good art and design selection — in a quaint setting replete with a coffee shop. The store won Westword's 2015 Best New Bookstore.
7) Fahrenheit's Books
210 South Broadway
A cozy but well-stocked bookstore that has a particularly good selection of vintage paperbacks, poetry and non-fiction covering history and philosophy. You can browse their 14,000-plus volumes online, if you find the labyrinthine stacks overwhelming!
6) The Hermitage Bookshop
290 Fillmore Street
Located in Cherry Creek, this subterranean book haven boasts a large and ever-changing selection of vintage and hard-to-find books for the serious collector, plus enough prose and non-fiction to entertain the more casual reader. Whatever your interests, the expert and knowledgeable staff can help you make the right purchase.
5) Kilgore Used Books and Comics
624 East 13th Avenue
Kilgore Books and Comics highlights indy comics of local and international renown, including Westword contributor Noah Van Sciver. Late last year, store co-owner Dan Stafford put on his shelves a rare collection of 280 handwritten interviews he conducted with comics including R. Crumb and Andrian Tomine. Kilgore also publishes its own comics quarterly and has put out a documentary, Root Hog or Die, about Denver-based comic John Porcellino. But don't let the comic books distract your from the store's robust selection of prose, science fiction and poetry, also at hand.
4) Mutiny Information Café
2 South Broadway
Quintupling up as a coffee shop, record store, book shop, venue and audio-equipment retailer, Mutiny Information Cafe is a cultural anchor that is much more than the sum of its parts. At Mutiny, which hosts everything from free all-ages electro-punk shows to Anarchist Black Cross meetings, access to culture and information is valued as much as, if not more than, selling stuff. But still – shop there! Some local zines and tapes are available, along with a good collection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and used LPs. For night owls, this book store is open until midnight on weeknights and 3 a.m. on weekends.
3) Printed Page Bookshop
1416 South Broadway
This twenty-member co-op hosts some of the oldest antiques along antique row, with books and manuscripts dating as far back as the sixteenth century. These fascinating titles include such tomes as the existentially egalitarian Emblems of Mortality representing in upwards of fifty cuts of Death seizing all ranks and degrees of people. Other ephemera, rarities and first editions abound, and co-owner Dan Danbom stresses the importance of building relationships with customers who want to build their own special collections. The more casual shopper will also find the more enduring literary works available, and the super-friendly staff will be sure to help you locate what you're looking for.
2) Tattered Cover Bookstore
A Denver icon, the Tattered Cover has four locations in the area, including one in the new Union Station, as well as a few spots at Denver International Airport that are branded with the name. Although the store focuses primarily on new books, as opposed to the "tattered covers" of used titles, bibliophiles will find it easy to spend hours browsing their robust collection, which spans all genres of literature.
1) West Side Books and Curios
3434 West 32nd Avenue
Having won Westword's Best Old Bookstore award this year, West Side Books is the coolest store on the strip straddling 32nd and Tennyson. Book lover and store owner Lois Harvey balances a well curated selection of new and used books, and her staff is always ready to provide smart recommendations in classic and contemporary literature.