Pittsburgh is home to over a dozen independent booksellers
Published on Wednesday, Dec 5th, 2018
“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” – local bookstores
While many of the big booksellers have disappeared, there has been a small but mighty resurgence of local bookshops in the Pittsburgh area. There are over a dozen independent booksellers located in and around the city of Pittsburgh. Some are old favorites, but there are a few brand new ones, like Riverstone Books and the City of Asylum Bookstore, that just opened their doors in the past two years.
We’ve organized this list by neighborhood. Whether you live in the city or just outside, there is almost certainly an independent bookstore nearby!
White Whale Bookstore
Opened: Was East End Boox Exchange, new owners renamed the shop in 2016.
White Whale Books is located on Liberty Avenue in the heart of Bloomfield. This bookshop is within walking distance of several coffee shops and is the perfect spot to browse for new books.
The Big Idea Bookstore
The Big Idea Bookstore website refers to itself as “Pittsburgh’s antiprofit bookstore and cafe.” The Big Idea is Pittsburgh’s anarchist collective and sells both new and used books, magazine, notebooks, and other gifts. The bookstore is also home to a small coffee shop that has free wifi.
Beyond Bedtime Books
Opened: March 2010
Located in the heart of the Dormont business district, Beyond Bedtime Books sells mostly used books but also carries some new books. Hours are limited to midday, so be sure to check to make sure they are open before you go.
Rickert & Beagle Books
Opened: Was Eljay’s Books on Carson Street in 2010. Eljay retired in 2013, and the name was officially changed in 2014.
Ricker and Beagle Books specializes in used Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror books.
Amazing Books & Records – Downtown
Opened: ~2013, the current owner purchased the Awesome Bookshop that was located on Penn Ave.
This bookstore sells both books and records and has locations in Downtown and Squirrel Hill. You can read more about how the owner, Erick Ackland, moved to Pittsburgh and became a bookseller in this 2017 Post-Gazette article.
Tip: Both Amazing Books locations are closed on Saturdays
Riverstone Books is located in the North Hills, just up the road from Ross Park Mall. The bookstore carries a wide range of books for kids and adults and hosts a number of events in their shop.
City of Asylum Books
The City of Asylum Bookstore is located in the Alphabet City building. The bookstore is a project of the Pittsburgh nonprofit, City of Asylum, that provides a residency program for writers who have been exiled from their home countries. The bookshop shares an event space with the Brugge on North restaurant and hosts many author events as well as other programming from the nonprofit.
Opened: City Books was located on Carson Street in the South Side neighborhood. In 2016, the new owner purchased the inventory and moved the shop to the North Side.
City Books claims to be Pittsburgh’s oldest bookstore. If you are interested in learning more about local authors, check out the TV show, Shelf Life, hosted by City Books owner Arlan Hess on PCTV21 or also on YouTube.
Caliban Book Shop
The Caliban Book Shop is arguably the largest used bookseller in the Pittsburgh area. In addition to the bookshop on Craig Street in Oakland, Caliban also has a warehouse in Wilkinsburg.
Amazing Books & Records – Squirrel Hill
Amazing Books & Records opened their second Pittsburgh location on Murray Ave in 2014. The Squirrel Hill neighborhood had been home to many bookstores throughout the years, but when the Barnes & Noble closed in 2009, the neighborhood was a book desert.
Tip: both Amazing Books locations are closed on Saturdays
Classic Lines sells both used and new books as well as some cards and gift items.
The Penguin Bookshop probably owns the title of Pittsburgh’s oldest continually operating bookstore. Located in Sewickley, about a 15-20 min drive from downtown, this bookstore sells new fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. Penguin Bookshop frequently hosts author events and workshops for writers.