exterior of White Whale Books, an independent bookstore in Pittsburgh

Cozy Up with These Bookstores in Pittsburgh

Your guide to the thriving independent bookstores in Pittsburgh

Forget Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Pittsburgh is a booklovers paradise, with independent and family-owned bookstores throughout our 90 neighborhoods. Use this carefully cultivated list to find a new local shop to support, join a book club and find special, hard-to-find books for yourself or as gifts that can be found Only in Pittsburgh.

Did you know? Many new releases can be purchased from these shops for less than retail price online. So, empty your digital shopping cart and buy local instead!

White Whale Bookstore

Located on Liberty Ave, this family-owned bookstore sells new releases but also has so much more going on than books. Join White Whale Bookstore for an ongoing Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Ten Evenings series featuring authors, writers workshops and collaboration events with Bottlerocket Social Hall and the August Wilson Center.

And we didn't even mention the drinks! Mindful Brewing has six of their beers on tap in the store, joining a fantastic selection of coffees and teas to enjoy while getting lost in a new book. Is it any wonder White Whale was named the Best Bookstore in the city in 2022?

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Riverstone Books

With locations in Squirrel Hill and McCandless, Riverstone Books is the largest independent bookstore in Pittsburgh. Fantastic service from their expert staff will ensure all types of readers find the next book they'll be unable to put down. Check their events calendar for fun to-dos like toddler yoga and music story time, book clubs and author meet-and-greets.

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City of Asylum Bookstore

If you're looking to branch out, City of Asylum Bookstore provides an expertly curated international bookstore experience. The centerpiece of this unique store is their Exiled Writers-in-Residence program, which enables authors who have been expelled from their home countries because of their writing to continue their work in the U.S. and transition to a stable life.

While you're there, I highly recommend having a reservation for the attached 40 North restaurant which blends international and American cuisines (their falafel is A+) much like the shop itself.

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Penguin Bookshop

If they've been doing it for 90 years, they must be doing it right. Penguin Bookshop has been a cornerstone of Sewickley since 1929 and remains locally owned, selling new fiction and non-fiction. Join their Penguin Evening Readers book club for a new reason to shop and read fantastic selections each month! 

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Shadyside Books

Set aside an afternoon to take your time and really explore Shadyside Books, located on the second floor of Caboodle Trading Post. This used bookstore stocks more than 5,000  books in all fields, including some amazing first editions in history, arts and the sciences.

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Material Books

While shopping Lawrenceville, be sure to walk around the entirety of The Lawrenceville Market House to find Material Books, a unique collection of film criticism, photography, urban design and Pittsburgh-centric books right beside to a former bank vault. Film buffs, be warned: I always leave this shop with my arms full of amazing books I never even knew existed.

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Amazing Books and Records

My favorite spot to explore Downtown on my lunch break, Amazing Books and Records is packed floor to ceiling with rare finds, used treasures and new releases, plus an outstanding selection of albums. Unload your used books here, then take advantage of their free book or record deal with every three items you buy.

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The Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore & Cafe

What's the Big Idea? This anarchist collective on Liberty Ave is antiprofit, anticapitalist, antioppressive and a must visit. Search hard-to-find radical and progressive literature from small independent presses and publishers alongside pins, patches, stickers, zines and more.

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The Tiny Bookstore 

Ever feel like a store gets you as a person? With only 300 square feet of space, black-owned The Tiny Bookstore is doing big things in the North Hills. A diverse selection of feminist, LGBTQIA+, Black joy and other diverse reads join manga, games and even a Homebrewer's corner, so I never know exactly what I'll be walking out with!

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Beyond Bedtime Books

With so many great selections on-hand, this locally owned and independent bookstore in Dormont will have you staying up Beyond Bedtime just to finish everything! Kids will love their fantastic children's room, too.

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Fungus Books

You'll come for the rare books and records, but you'll stay for the vibes. Friendly owners are happy to chat about rare finds and recommend something you'll love. Plus, new art shows are rotating in all the time make Fungus Books one of my favorite shops to explore. Last time I was in, I chatted with the employees about deathmatch wrestling (Fungus Books is of course MDK All Day) before leaving with my arms full of great books and magazines.

Pro Tip: Be sure to check the back wall for their incredibly rare collection of Sun Ra records

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Mystery Lovers Bookshop

For almost 30 years, Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont has appealed to the genres of thrillers, noir, suspense and cozy reads in this locally owned, independent shop. Delve into their extensive collection of Joe Wos mazes and publications; this Pittsburgher can often be found in the shop and signing copies of his a-maze-ing work. 

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Caliban Book Shop

It's easy (and rewarding) to get lost in Caliban Book Shop in Oakland, a haven for readers and collectors alike. Browse 25,000 uncatalogued volumes, a robust selection of local authors and even vinyl and CDs across genres.

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City Books

Yes, it's a wonderful bookstore, but what City Books prides itself on is being a center for discussion and creativity for the city since opening in 1984. Be sure to follow their Instagram where used books are showcased daily and can be purchased via a quick comment, or stop in to browse their entire collection, shop local authors, meet an author-in-residence and join a book club.

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Spark Books

A love of reading starts from childhood, and Spark Books in Aspinwall is dedicated to fostering early literacy.  Their expertly curated list of books range from the earliest readers to Young Adult selections to give parents confidence they're selecting the right books to keep their kids reading. Grown ups, their Spark After Dark book club is for you.

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Posman Books

With locations in NYC, Boston and Pittsburgh, among others, this family-run shop keeps an indie bookstore feel, a recipe for success that's kept Posman Books growing for 50 years. Newly opened in The Terminal in the Strip, this bright, energetic space is made even better as you enjoy a scoop (or two, I'm not judging) of Oddfellows ice cream sold in-store.

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