A Guide To Independent Bookstores in Birmingham

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As many of us know, the pandemic has hit local businesses particularly hard. With fewer people going out shopping and opting for online purchases instead, our small businesses are in need of our support now more than ever. Bookstores have not been immune to the plethora of issues that have arisen during this crazy time, yet they bring so much to our communities that we all suffer when they have to close their doors. To prevent this, let’s show our appreciation to these places by choosing to shop small when possible, especially during this holiday season.

Personally, I adore local bookstores. There are few things I enjoy more than browsing their shelves for books to add to my unreasonably long to-be-read list. I delight in scoping out stationary for more pens and notebooks I do not need but will inevitably buy anyways. Reading employee recommendations gives me insight into books I might otherwise never give a second glace to. Watching my girls pick out new books for themselves always makes me so happy.

Needless to say, I’m well acquainted with most of the bookstores in Birmingham, and I particularly love visiting them during the holiday season. So, here’s a list of them, along with descriptions of each so that you can find the best indie for your bookish needs.

DeDe’s Book Rack

This is our only local used bookstore. Located in Trussville, DeDe’s Book Rack is a treasure for those of us whose love of books is bigger than our wallets. I especially like buying used books for my kids, and this newly renovated bookstore has such a great selection of budget-friendly children’s books. You can trade-in your used books for store credit, here, too! All of you fellow homeschool moms need to pay this shop a visit A.S.A.P. I’ve gotten some very surprising finds here, so don’t sleep on this one!

Thank You Books

This new-ish addition to Crestwood is just wonderful. They have a fantastic selection of stationary, including imported pens from Japan and eco-friendly notebooks. (In fact, my notes for this post were taken in a recycled notebook while using a Japanese pen.) Thank You Books (TYB) has a rewards program that allows customers to create an account and accumulate points with each purchase made. They also regularly have author events, and have recently begun expanding their store. Their kids’ section is already super cozy, so I’m pretty excited to see the new one after it’s finished.

Church Street Coffee and Books

Yes, this is a coffee shop, but it’s also a bookstore. They have a literal hand-picked selection of books for sale, so you’re guaranteed to walk-away with a book worth reading; or better yet, sit down with it while drinking some Non-Fiction Coffee and eating a break-up cookie. The next time you head to Mountain Brook, do yourself a favor and plan on stopping here. They even have a new writer-in-residence, so be sure to give their Instagram account a follow. The Church Street community and staff are very tight-knit, and you can tell whenever you stop by, which is just delightful.

Little Professor

Little Professor (LP) has been a Homewood staple for years, but has recently been bought and renovated by its new owners. They are very active in their community, participating in downtown Homewood open-houses and having weekly storytime for kids. They even host Santa for an event during the holidays! LP also has a membership program, an app for easy shopping, and an in-store coffee cart run by June Roasters. (Get a cappuccino when you go, trust me.) With their free gift-wrapping and extensive gift selection, this is a great locale to keep in mind during your Christmas shopping. They even have partnerships with a few places in need of books, so you can give gifts to children you don’t even know by shopping here.

Alabama Booksmith

The Alabama Booksmith is a great place for gifts! This shop only carries signed books. Yes, you read that correctly. Every single book in here is signed! You can find all kinds of books at this shop, and they’re all regular price except for the special collector’s editions. If you need a special gift for the bibliophile in your life, don’t sleep on this one!

Burdock Book Collective

This book shop doesn’t have store hours at the moment, but they do sell books at pop-ups around town and through their website. They primarily source their books from small presses and publishers, and they focus on amplifying often-marginalized voices. This community space is used for many things, from sheltering the house-less community in extreme weather, to book clubs, to providing a place for immigrant justice activists to lead trainings. Their books to prisons project currently takes up a lot of their time, so the owners and volunteers can often be found fulfilling book requests from people in the Etowah County Detention Center and pairing them up with penpals. (If you’d like to be involved in this program, let them know!)

Reed Books/The Museum of Fond Memories

Okay, I know Reed Books is more than a bookstore, but it is not less than a bookstore, so I’ve included it here. Jim Reed’s shop/museum is a downtown Birmingham institution, and if you haven’t been then you NEED to go! He has books that are 500 years old alongside new releases; he even has a selection of scrapbooks, newspapers, diaries, and postcards. Reed doesn’t believe in throwing away things with the written word, and this place is an homage to that idea. This shop is so much more than a place to buy things, so if you want a unique experience while fulfilling your bookish desires, Reed Books is the perfect place for you.

Library Bookstores

Library book sales and bookstores are often overlooked treasures. We have a large public library system in Jefferson County, and when books in good condition are pulled out of rotation or donated by patrons, they’re frequently put up for sale. Not all local libraries have permanent bookstores or even have regular booksales, but it’s worth checking out your local library’s calendar to see if they do this. It’s a great way to fill out your home library while giving back to the community. Plus, these books are so cheap you can let your kids shop for themselves here, and having a sense of ownership over books is great for children.

Online Shopping Options

It’s been reported that when you shop local, 70% of your dollars stay in your community. So, if you want to shop local but aren’t able to get to one of these fabulous stores, check out Bookshop.org or Libro.fm. Bookshop.org is a typical bookstore, but online; Libro.fm is only for audiobooks. You can buy books and gifts from both of these sites, but your selected local bookshop will get a profit from your purchase, instead of a large chain.

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