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Blog Entry
Before the Summer Runs Out: A Road Trip Proposal
Cali Kopczick
August 19, 2014

Summer is turning into autumn and vacation season is dwindling. With that in mind, weve thrown together a national road trip route that would, in theory, take you through most of the U.S. bookstore hubs. We also added some potentially obscure stop-offs to make the connect-the-dots more interesting, and though I personally interpret the resulting beastie as the head and forelimbs of a joyous anteater, wed love to get your interpretations. The list of bookstores that wed take you through is not exhaustive, but thats not the point; efficiency and cost-effectiveness isnt the point eitherwhen we completed the circuit, the route was a meandering 9,500+ miles; the point is to launch a discussion: what are your favorite bookstoresthe ones youve visited, the ones nearby, the ones youve only heard tell about? What would this kind of trip mean as an experience - of America, of literature, of space and taste and genre?

The point is also to open the possibility of a strange, messy route and draw unexpected connection - literally and figuratively - between bookstores. These bookstores are connected by a common function, a common purpose, yes; no doubt theyre connected by many of the same market demands and distribution channels; but theyre also connected by you, me, usreaders who discover new favorite bookstores everywhere we go. We may notice commonalities (and differences) that no website blurb or market report could capture, things like the smell of the neighborhood and the doodles on the staff recommendations and the little hidden jokes in themed displays.

So offer us your suggested amendments to this route. Offer us your joy, your analysis, your outrage that we could overlook this lovely city or that little gem. Please, offer us a name for this strange shape weve made! Wed love to hear your thoughts.

Ed. Note: we're already hearing back from you, so we'll compile the reader suggestions below the roster. Keep the debate going in the comments, folks! Ed. Note 2: My apologies to Malvern Books in Austin, TX and Left Bank Books in St. Louis. The original addresses I listed here was incorrect, but the ones now listed should be correct. Ed. Note 3: As it turns out, Books of Aurora in Ohio is now an electronic entity. We're leaving the link up here, but we've removed it from the Ohio section.


Find a more detailed, interactive version of the Google map here.

Route roster (starting with our hometown of Seattle and proceeding by metropolitan hub; reader suggestions are at the end):

Seattle, WA: Portland, OR: Boulder, CO and environs: San Francisco, CA: Los Angeles, CA: Santa Fe, NM and environs: Denver, CO: Austin, TX and environs: Houston, TX: New Orleans, LA: Atlanta, GA and environs: St. Louis, MO and environs: Asheville, NC and environs: New York, NY: Boston, MA and environs: Manchester, VT and environs: Cleveland, OH and environs: Chicago, IL and environs: Iowa City, IA and environs: Madison, WI and environs: Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN: Reader suggestions:

Number of comments: 12
click to add a comment

Sue-Ni DiStefano
Love your road trip proposal! On your way to/from the wonderful indies in NY, please stop by our independent used book shop, Broad Street Books, located in Branchville, NJ. We love visiting, supporting, & encouraging our fellow indies, so much thanks for this list! Sue-Ni DiStefano Broad Street Books

Ellen Smith
I love that you have included the fabulous Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson, Ohio. It's both vibrant and charming.

S. Barribeau
Books End in Syracuse NY and Books & Melodies also in Syracuse a block away. Woodland Pattern Book Center, Milwaukee, WI. Paul's Bookstore, Madison, WI. Caxton Books, Elliott Bay, Door County, WI.

Julie Buckles
Thanks for the list! A few more to add to the list for anyone planning to visit northern Wisconsin on Lake Superior's south shore. We have a marvelous collection of active independent bookstores -- Apostle Islands Booksellers in Bayfield, Redbery Books in Cable, Chequamegon Books (used and new) in Washburn and What Goes Around (used and new) in Bayfield. As an author, I have worked them all and am thankful to them and all independent bookstores for providing a voice and venue for authors.

The "shape" of the route is obviously a whale (heading west) and his name is Moby... Thanks for including us on the route, The Fountainhead Bookstore (fountainhead, whale - get it?)

Hilde Kaiser
In the Chicago area, -Unabridged Books, Chicago (Lakeview neighborhood) -Seminary Co Op Books, the sister store of 57th Street Books (actually the mothership, and in its new location, very thoughtfully architecturally designed) -The Book Stall, in Winnetka, IL (N Suburb of Chicago) -Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, IL (N Suburb of Chicago)

Hilde Kaiser
Oh, and how could I forget! -Women and Children First Books, Chicago (Andersonville neighborhood) -I have been to Chequamegon and it is indeed an amazing book shop! Like a little oasis in the woods. In terms of bookshops in remote areas, -The Cottage Bookshop in Glen Arbor, Michigan stands out in my mind, as well as: -Singing Wind Bookshop in Benson, AZ (outside Tucson) -Marfa Book Company, in Marfa, TX

Between San Francisco and Los Angeles, a pit stop in Santa Cruz would be a good idea. It has two amazing bookstores right on Pacific Avenue. Bookshop Santa Cruz has been a fixture for 48 years, and has an impressive inventory of new and used books, not to mention a great newsstand and gift section. Further down the block, Logos Books and Records is every bit the equal of Green Apple in San Francisco (and, I would argue, has a much better layout). Neither is to be missed!

Great list! Unabridged Bookstore (3251 N Broadway) is also a fantastic indie in Chicago. It has the largest LGBTQ and travel book sections of any bookstore I've been in. :)

Cali Kopczick
Wow, thanks for all the helpful comments, everyone! Valerie, I can definitely see the whale there. Hilde, thanks for all the great tips, especially the Chicago bookstores. We were intending 57th Street Books as the representative of the Seminary Co-op, the same way we list just one Powell's location, but thanks so much for the insight on the differences between the two!

If you're already in New Mexico, it's worth the trip to Taos. You can read at Moby Dickens or Brodsky Books.

David Rutledge
Don't forget the wonderful Crescent City Books -- a beautiful store to explore in the Quarter: