An independently owned bookstore is like a friend: it has its own personality that makes you love to spend time there. Despite the draw of web-based super sellers, indie bookstores are surviving. According to the American Bookseller’s Association, the number of indie bookstores in the United States has increased by 27 percent since 2009. Missourians can make friends with any one of the more than 20 independent bookstores in the Show-Me State. Here are a few of our favorites, but you could visit them all to find the one whose personality best matches yours.

St. Louis • Left Bank Books

St. Louis’s Left Bank Books is dignified and dapper like a sharply dressed gentleman. Real Simple magazine named it the best bookstore in Missouri in 2017. Located in the swanky Central West End, the store is surrounded by fine restaurants and boutiques.

Left Bank hosts an author event series, and shoppers can also buy a monthly book subscription box. The store o•ffers eight diff•erent book clubs that serve a variety of genres and interests.

Marketing and publicity manager Lauren Wiser says Left Bank Books was honored by Real Simple “partly because of our longevity—we’ve been open since 1969—but also because we try to be not just a retail center but a community center. Book selling is our job and it’s what we do, but we also love to be a place where people can come together to talk about the books they love.”

399 North Euclid Avenue • 314-367-6731 • Left-Bank.com

Kansas City • Prospero’s Books & Media

Kansas City’s Prospero’s Books is also home to Spartan Press, one of the largest nonuniversity publishers of poetry in the nation. The enormous store features rolling library ladders in an antique building that is part of Cowtown’s most historic neighborhood, West 39th Street. Founded in 1997 by Will Leathem and Tom Wayne, the store has three floors that together hold 50,000 titles in used books, movies, and music. On the third Friday of each month, Prospero’s hosts live music, and other artistic and literary events happen there throughout the year.

1800 West 39th Street • 816-531-9673 • ProsperosBookstore.com

Fulton • Well Read Books

Located in the heart of Fulton’s historic brick district, this bookstore’s friendly sta goes above and beyond to help customers find just what they’re looking for. Discover some gems in the collection of new and used books and toys and gifts.

530 Court Street • 573-642-6181 • Facebook.com/WellReadBookstore

Holt • Small Town Booksmith

Tiny Holt boasts a big store in this western Missouri town. Choose from an assortment of used books for children and adults. The shop is also home to a handful of local vendors who sell their handmade products. Monthly activities include coloring parties, make-and-take crafts, vendor shopping, and fundraisers.

265 North Main Street • 816-718-2530 • Facebook.com/SmallTownBookSmith

Lee’s Summit • KD’s Books

This charming local bookstore specializes in children’s books, toys, and gifts.

241 SE Main Street • 816-525-1366 On Facebook: KD’s Books

Lexington • River Reader Bookstore

Check out the selection of general-interest books, toys, and games, plus a full-service espresso bar. River Reader is a community hub for local art shows, music, debates, author events, and art classes.

1010 Main Street • 660-259-4996 • River-Reader.com

Maplewood • The Book House

More than 350,000 volumes form an eclectic mix of rare, out-of-print, new, and used books in genres ranging from children’s books to novels, history, literature, religion, philosophy, and science-fiction. Clearance sales oer incredible bargains.

7352 Manchester Road • 314-968-4491 • BookHouseStL.com

O’Fallon • Rose’s Bookhouse

Find a large selection of fiction and nonfiction titles in a constantly changing inventory. Trade accounts offer big savings.

8935 Veterans Memorial Parkway 636-272-5857 • RosesBookhouse.com

Springfield • ABC Books

Local authors get a lot of love here among the new and used books.

2109 North Glenstone Avenue, Suite J 417-831-3523 • TheABCBookstore.com

Springfield • Book Marx

Hang out with the bookstore cats while you browse the collection of gently used classic literature, contemporary and postmodern fiction, science fiction, children’s books, and more.

325 East Walnut Street • 417-501-1062 • Facebook.com/BookMarxBooks

St. Charles • Main Street Books

This is a place for people to meet and talk about books, for teens to hide away and discover new stories, for children to laugh at silly stories. The store’s collection includes new and used books, gifts, greeting cards, bookmarks, journals, games, and toys.

307 South Main Street • 636-949-0105 • MainStreetBooks.net

Washington • Neighborhood Reads

Opened in June 2017, this shop found a home in a renovated 1898 house. Stocked with a curated selection of new books for children and adults, the store also carries a variety of unique gifts. Neighborhood events include Saturday morning story time, book clubs, journaling workshops, author visits, local tastings, and even knitting groups.

401 Lafayette Street • 636-390-9673 NeighborhoodReads.com

Webster Groves • The Novel Neighbor

This shop emphasizes community, providing space for book clubs, classes, author events, after-school activities, tastings, parties, showers, and more. The Novel Neighbor carries new adult and children’s books, as well as works from local artists and crafters.

7905 Big Bend Boulevard • 314-738-9384 • TheNovelNeighbor.com

Kansas City • Willa’s Books

Across town from Prospero’s, Willa Robinson runs a tidy little bookstore nestled in the Citadel building. Willa began collecting books as a young woman and eventually had amassed so many her home couldn’t hold them all. She began selling them as a street vendor in 1994 before opening a brick-and-mortar shop in 2007.

“African American books are my specialty,” she says. “I really started [collecting books] because I wanted black kids to see themselves in a book. When I was coming up, the only time I saw myself in a book was when there were characters who were slaves. So, I started picking up old and rare books about black people.”

Now Willa sells new and used mainstream fiction, nonfiction, and black literature, along with gifts and vintage vinyl records.

1734 East 63rd Street, Suite 110 • 816-419-1051 • WillasBooksKC.com

Columbia • Yellow Dog Bookshop

When Joe Chevalier and Kelsey Hammond moved their family to Columbia, they stumbled on a quaint little bookshop packed with good books. They were dismayed when the owners told them they were soon closing up shop for good. The couple, who met while working in a bookstore, thought: We can’t let this happen.

“We decided Columbia needed a bookstore downtown that was open seven days a week,” Joe says. They named the store for their yellow lab, Scout, and opened in 2013. Yellow Dog Bookshop now sells used and new books and magazines and has a popular children’s nook in the back of the shop where a kid can be a kid.

Joe says the shop “is a place where people can wander in and find something they didn’t know they were looking for.”

8 South Ninth Street • 573-442-3330 • YellowDogBookshop.com

St. Louis • Subterranean Books

Selling new books only, this store’s stock includes bestsellers, cult classics, small presses, timeless literature, and anything else that catches the staff’s fancy. A frequent buyer program rewards loyalty with store credits.

6275 Delmar Boulevard • 314-862-6100 • SubBooks.com

St. Louis • Dunaway Books

With an extensive selection of fine used, out-of-print, and rare volumes, it’s no wonder The Riverfront Times picked Dunaway as the Best Used Book Store in St. Louis. The shop also features new, small-press titles by local authors or about local subjects.

3111 South Grand Boulevard • 314-771-7150 • DunawayBooks.com

Columbia • Columbia Books

Looking for rare or antiquarian titles? Make Columbia Books your first stop. The shop’s 35,000 volumes range from new releases to 400-year-old finds.

1907 Gordon Street • 573-449-7417 • ColumbiaBooksOnline.com


Columbia • Skylark Books

Alex George, founder of the Unbound Book Festival, opened Columbia’s newest independent bookstore last August. The downtown shop features author events, subscription services, book clubs, and what may be the ultimate book lover’s gift—the Skylark Reading Spa.

22 South Ninth Street • 573-777-6990 • SkylarkBookshop.com


Columbia • The Peace Nook

More than books are in the offing at the literary arm of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks. The Nook serves as a social change activism center, offering books, fair-trade imports, natural foods, environmental products, posters, jewelry, T-shirts, and magazines.

804-C East Broadway • 573-875-0539 • Facebook.com/PeaceNook


Columbia • Village Books

The shop features many local authors and offers new and used books at a discount. Trade-ins are accepted for credit, which can be applied to used-book purchases.

2513 Bernadette Drive • 573-449-8637 • VillageBooks.org

Top photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash