The act of buying books is so much more than a simple financial transaction between the buyer and the clerk. Instead, when frequenting the right shop, a bookstore can provide a cultural hub for the reader. Independent bookstores in particular are known for supporting and hosting authors and community events. Many have become well known and respected institutions within their individual neighborhoods.
“I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson famously said. If you too, like Jefferson, cannot survive without getting lost in some tomes, consult this list to find an independent bookstore in your area of northern New Jersey.
Montclair Book Center
Recently voted the best indie bookstore of New Jersey in 2014 by NJ Monthly, Montclair Book Center is among the largest independent bookstores in the state. Housing both new and used books, the 10,000 square foot space currently occupies two storefronts and three levels. Aside from its extensive collection of titles ranging from narratives to collector’s items, the center also carries journals, greeting cards, music posters, t-shirts, memorabilia as well as vinyl! 221 Glenridge Ave., Montclair; 973-783-3630
While known for supporting local authors—hosting titles from over 60 artists from the area—Watchung Booksellers additionally boasts a robust events calendar. These include poetry readings, monthly literary discussions and visits from authors. With a staff possessing over 70 years of pooled bookselling knowhow, you can’t go wrong visiting Watchung Booksellers. The shop also sells a wide range of quirky and fun gifts, from puppets to jewelry. 54 Fairfield St., Montclair; 973-744-7177
Books, Bytes and Beyond
Books, Bytes and Beyond has something to offer for everyone in the family. Having established itself as a revered stop for visiting authors, BBB also carries family friendly computer software. The staff will not only assist you in finding the perfect gift for any age, but they will tie it up with a pretty bow with their gift-wrapping service. 201 Rock Rd. LL1, Glen Rock; 201-670-6766
Words is a unique blend of bookstore and community center. The shop hosts Second Sundays—a monthly series for families of and children with special needs. The store also offers employment opportunities to those with autism and/or special needs. 179 Maplewood Ave., Maplewood; 973-763-9500
Hoboken's Symposia doubles as a rental space for events and a community center and offers a wide variety of children’s events, including story times, puppet shows, and guitar circles. Symposia is known for providing books as favors for the birthday parties they host. 510 Washington St, Hoboken; 201-963-0909
Little City Books
Relatively new—having opened in May of 2015—Little City Books provides numerous book clubs for readers of all ages. Owned and operated by three book-loving individuals, Little City Books strives to engage its local neighborhood. Their website offers the option to subscribe to their an e-newsletter as well as the staff’s reviews of multiple authors. Little City Books also regularly throws Memoir Shows. These performances morph the shop into what the website refers to as a “music club” with a lineup of about 10-15 artists showcasing their talents.
For $25 per ticket, admission grants each customer free drinks and snacks. 100 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken; 201-626-READ
The Old Book Shop
A mecca for the true treasure hunter in you, The Old Book Shop carries old magazines and postcards as well as a plethora of eclectic selections. If you love getting lost browsing stacks of books, this is the bookstore for you. Moderately priced and excessively stocked, The Old Book Shop will keep you coming back again and again. 4 John St, Morristown; 973-538-1210
Over the past 15 years, this 30-year old shop has hosted more than 1,000 authors (and mostly really big names!). Upcoming signings include Teresa Giudice, Harlan Coben, Kate Hudson, and Buzz Aldrin. Note that all books being signed must be purchased at Bookends with a valid receipt. 211 E. Ridgewood Ave.; 201-445-0726
Go forth and flip through independently-owned bookstore’s pages to your heart’s desire!
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