A Guide to Independent Bookstores Around the Chesapeake Bay

Independent Bookstores Around the Chesapeake Bay

Independent Bookstores Around the Chesapeake Bay

Independent bookstores directly serve the community and the individual. Their contributions are invaluable. Independent bookstores support core values of community, creativity, convening, civility, and contact.  Here are 47 independent bookstores around the Chesapeake Bay Region that emphasize those core values.

  1. The Old Fox Books & Coffeehouse, Annapolis, MD

This place is loaded with character and old books. It's the kind of place to get lost in for hours poking through the shelves. The layout allows you to work at small table or hangout in armchairs. Plus, a delicious coffeehouse with a friendly barista.

2.     Prince Books & Coffee House, Norfolk, VA

This quintessential bookstore has all the necessities for the perfect small Main St type establishment.  It has a friendly staff who knows books, books from all genres and years, comfy and cozy chairs to read, cute and unique stationery and Knick knacks, window view of a beautiful city and it smells of coffee.  Prince Books has all of that.

3.    Atomic Books, Baltimore, MD

Wonderfully weird with a bar!  There’s a huge selection of comics and graphic novels in this quirky, pint-sized bookstore.  Atomic Books is also special as it collects fan mail for John Waters (actor, filmmaker, writer), which he picks up from the shop regularly. 

4.     Bird in Hand, Baltimore, MD

Impressive selection of new, independent, unique as well as classic books. Locally sourced food products also available.

5.     The Book Escape, Baltimore, MD

Located in charming Federal Hill, this small book shop is crammed with great books and a diverse selection at great prices.  They purchased used books.  The feline owner and mascot is very friendly!

6.     Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, VA

This shop is particularly great for children's books, gifts, and games.   They feature free story times each week, and even have a popular YA book club.   They also gift wrap for free such a nice treat!

  1. The Book Thing of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

The Book Thing of Baltimore wants people to have books. All the books are FREE! There are thousands to choose from, in paperbacks as well as hardbacks.  

  1. Busboys & Poets, Columbia, MD, Baltimore, MD, Washington DC, Hyattsville, MD

Busboys and Poets is a community gathering place with food and beverages.  The bookstore is small, but it has a nicely curated inventory that is aligned with their causes and missions.

9.     AFK Books and Records, Virginia Beach, VA

This place has an amazing book and movie section, plus a huge selection of records. A-plus customer service.  Visit this warm, quirky place (with a very cute dog) to spend an hour looking for some treasures to take home and you won’t regret it.

  1.  Charm City Books, Baltimore, MD

Super charming bookstore in Pigtown!  They have an eclectic collection of new books as well as neat puzzles, stationary, and décor, The children section upstairs is absolutely adorable!  The online calendar lists great events they have scheduled each month.

  1. Second Story Books, Rockville, MD

They literally have EVERYTHING. You'll come in looking for one thing and leave with a box full of reasonably priced goodies.  Can't forget Dave's record store inside the bookstore.

  1. Co_Lab Books, Baltimore, MD

Co_Lab Books offers a well curated selection of art, architecture, and design books, including books on city living, handmade crafts, and beautiful books for children. They have small gifts, cards, and games, all with the designer, builder or artist in mind

  1. Brian Cassidy, Bookseller, Silver Spring, MD

This bookstore has an interesting focus and a depth of material.  This shop is one of the best I have ever found for the hard to find, the rare, the unique, and the beguiling.

  1. Everyone's Place, Baltimore, MD

Their collection of books is enormous, from older books to new releases. You will feed your mind here. If you are looking for rare items, natural oils and butters, unique jewelry clothing and books in African culture, this is your one stop shop.

  1. A Likely Story, Sykesville, MD

This may be a small store, but it is certainly mighty in its selections.  They have an impressive array of local history, not just your run of the mill fiction collection.  In the back is an inviting children’s room with books for toddlers to teens and places for kids to sit and read.  The store brings in well-known writers like Harlan Coben and John Sanford for programs.

  1. Greedy Reads, Baltimore, MD

This Fells Point bookstore itself is small and cozy, and absolutely stuffed with books.  You can join the many book clubs they have.  Of course, the service is outstanding and there is a docile dog wandering the premises.

  1. The Ivy Bookshop, Baltimore, MD

Terrific independent with great and interesting choices!  They have an extremely well curated selection of books, including a great kids section an outstanding section of local books/authors.

18.  One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

One More Page is the bookstore everyone would like in their neighborhood and worth the drive. The selection of books - and wine - shows attention to quality. The selection is not large, but it is hard to walk out without finding several items of interest. 

  1. The Kelmscott Bookshop – Baltimore, MD and Savage, MD

The Kelmscott Bookshop is terrific, with a broad selection of antiquarian books and contemporary artists' books, plus cats!  They are located in Savage and Baltimore.

  1. Protean Books & Records, Baltimore, MD

Protean Books & Records is an awesome store. They've got an amazing selection of retro toys, retro video games, used books, and vinyl.  There is something for everyone here, and they even have a $2 room is you just need a handful of items for a quick gift or treat.

  1. Mystery Loves Company, Oxford, MD

This bookstore has an amazing selection, including some truly adorable and memorable print postcards that are perfect for friends and family.  They have some gems that you won't find on Amazon.  if you're a mystery book lover, definitely go!

  1. Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, Baltimore, MD

Red Emma's is a cool space to hangout, do work, or connect with like-minded people.  The books are new and there is a diverse selection.  The vegan café gets rave reviews and the lavender latte highly raved about.

23.     Chop Suey Books, Richmond, VA

Chop Suey is a Richmond institution with a requisite shop cat, called Won Ton who snoozes in the windows. There are 2 floors chock full of books, very nicely categorized. Their “Blind Date with a Book,” program pairs you with a book covered in brown paper and wrapped like a present. You don’t know what you’re getting until you get home.

  1. Royal Books, Baltimore, MD

Royal Books specializes in rare books and paper relating to twentieth century literature, genre fiction, the arts, and popular culture, with a particular emphasis on cinema.

  1. Snug Books, Baltimore, MD

Snug’s Books is a new bookstore that carries new books for all ages and a variety of book related items, cards, gifts, games, and puzzles.  Their events with children are a hit especially the Port Discovery and Wildlife Adventures.

  1. Viva Books, Baltimore, MD

The book selection leans heavily toward art books, famous, classic writers like Albert Camus, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Franz Kafka. There are books in there that are lots of sociology and thought books, some Baltimore-focused. But they also have comics! A perfect mix of items.

  1. Wisdom Book Center, Baltimore, MD

It's a great place to learn about black history, culture, health, and healing.

  1. The Greyhound, Berlin, MD

This bookstore emphasizes the charm of small towns and kind people.  The store has a great selection of books with a great local section.  Don’t miss – it’s down a side street.

  1. Turn the Page Bookstore Café, Boonsboro, MD

The store features books, fragrances, and jewelry inspired by Nora Roberts along with books by other authors both fiction and non-fiction. There's also a small quiet nook with children's books for young readers.

  1. White Rabbit Books & Gifts, California, MD

White Rabbit Books is such a cool place if you like independent bookstores. They have a huge children's and young adult selection, games, indie best sellers for adults, and the best part is this section in the back filled with free books - they are all advance copies sent to the bookstore by the publisher and they give them away for free.

  1. Bookplate, Chestertown, MD

A real gem. Bookplate is extremely well-organized, packed with a superb selection of books and very comfortable - there are places to sit and read at the back. A resident cat keeps a watchful eye over proceedings. 

  1. Curmudgeon Books, Glen Burnie, MD

A great space and it has a huge collection of used books. They also added a records sections, cd and movie section. Plus, they sell vinyl records and comics! The store's largest section is history, both American and World, with large sections covering the Civil War and WWII.  The store now has a bright open inviting atmosphere. What's really cool is they set up author meet and greets on Saturday along with a live musician in the back for guests to enjoy!"

  1. Kensington Row Bookshop, Kensington, MD

The books are very well organized. In addition to all that one would expect from a used bookstore, they also have a fantastic collection focused on local Maryland/DC history. Those random finds have been some of my favorites. The children's book section is superb.  The upstairs is home to the Catalan Society of DC so all you lovers of Barca and San Jordi can go and converse there

  1. Fenwick Street Used Books & Music, Leonardtown, MD

Fenwick books is a great, small, locally owned bookstore that also offers used DVDs, a few CDs, and a large vinyl record collection. The owner is extremely friendly and also accepts trade-ins. The vast collection of books is used and are affordable. The records are underrated with the best vinyl dealer in the area.

  1. The Last Word, Mount Airy, MD and Savage, MD

A fantastic addition to downtown Mt. Airy! an awesome mix of new & previously loved books as well as a ridiculous assortment of literary related treasures.  Oh, and there are cats!!

  1. Mahogany Books, Oxon Hill, MD

Beautiful bookstore with a great selection of books focused on Black and African experiences.

  1. FOLMC Rockville Bookstore, Rockville, MD

This store carries everything from books, records, CDs, DVDs, to puzzles, and more. I've gotten several books and puzzles from this location. I think the most I've ever spent on something is three dollars. The store is mostly made up of volunteers.

  1. The Story House, Rockville, MD

The Story House is a bookstore for children and teens in Dawson's Market with a trolley bookstore that visits schools, festivals, and markets.  The mobile store is a hit with customers!

  1. Loyalty Bookstore, Silver Spring and DC

Great little bookstore in the Upshur neighborhood. Their selection is small and curated according to the local taste.  Be sure to check out their event calendar, as they have a wide-range of in-store events such as book-signings, tastings, etc. 

  1. Rudolph Girls Books, Westminster, MD

Rudolph’s has a good book selection, awesome service, and lots of fun events for its customers.  They are also known to have fun extras like tote bags, stickers, notebooks and bookmarks.

  1. FOLMC Wheaton Bookstore, Wheaton, MD

This store carries everything from books, records, CDs, DVDs, to puzzles, and more. I've gotten several books and puzzles from this location. I think the most I've ever spent on something is three dollars. The store is mostly made up of volunteers.

42.     Hole in the Wall Books, Falls Church, VA

Hole in the Wall Books is a classic small bookstore, with books covering every surface. But it is shockingly well organized, so books can be easily found. Easily the best small bookstore you will go to!

43.     Sundial Books, Chincoteague Island, VA

This new and used bookstore is right out of a John Grisham novel - Camino Island. The store has an expensive collection of old and new books, art, and lots of local information.  They also provided seating areas allow you to sit down and review your selections, which is key to relaxing in a vacation spot.

  1. Normal's Books & Records, Baltimore, MD

Normal’s stock three things; books, music, and movies.  To build a store like this takes time and careful cultivation by an intelligent and well-read staff; there truly is no junk here. 

  1. Station North Books, Baltimore, MD

Great place with knowledgeable and charming owner. If you're ever looking to acquire some interesting and rare books, this is the place to go

  1. Urban Bookstore, Baltimore, MD

Urban Reads Bookstore has a great selection of various authors. They have a lot of books that you may not be able to find at other bookstores. There are books for all ages and vital literature and products to help enhance your mind, soul & spirit.

  1. Bonjour Books, Kensington, MD

Bonjour Books (formerly Bonjour Mama) is the Washington, DC Metro region’s French Bookstore, located in the back room of Kensington Row Bookshop. We carry more than 1500 new and used French-language titles for all ages, resources for French students, gifts for the Francophile, and much more!

Tagged: Bookstores, Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Bay Region