While visiting the library is a sacred activity for most bookworms, browsing around bookshops is another hallowed venture. These independent bookshops in Austin are defined by their community approach to running a business. Between accepting book donations, repurposing material, and activley promoting diversity, the city is home to some very special bookstores.
Having been voted best bookstore in Texas for over 20 years, it comes as no surprise that the largest independent bookshop made it to the Secret Austin list. Explore the new arrivals, bestsellers, the extensive Romantic section, and so much more. You can find great gifts, local artists’ work for sale, and a colorful backdrop for story time. Feeling overwhelmed by the volume of books to choose from? Take a break from browsing and get a coffee or soda from CoffeePeople – sometimes they have themed drinks!
📍 603 N Lamar Blvd, Austin
2. South Congress Books
South Congress Books is a used bookshop dedicated to offering quality over quantity. With an emphasis on aesthetics and appreciation of the value of a book, this small but mighty gem in Austin sells used and vintage books, and rare volumes. Sheri Tornatore, the owner of South Congress Books, has over 30 years of experience in the collectible book business, and has amassed a five-star rating as an online bookseller through Tornbooks. Visit her brick-and-mortar bookshop which recently moved to its current location in 2023.
📍 3703 Kerbey Ln, Austin
3. Vintage Books and Wine
If “a bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world”, surely pairing the two is the best mode of discovery for a bibliophile. Jean was of this mindset when she found common ground between the Texas Hill Country’s wineries and her love for reading. One of the most stylish independent bookshops in Austin is also a wine bar and is set in a 142-year-old building with a storied past. At Vintage Books and Wine, and yes “vintage” is a play on the homonym, you’ll discover a community space that feels like “Austin’s living room”.
📍 1101 E 11th St, Austin
BookWoman’s “herstory” on their website will tell you that it began as a collective called The Common Woman Bookstore which was later dissolved, and the shop took on the name BookWoman. As one of the most unique bookshops in Austin, the store has been acting as the community’s local feminist bookstore for over 47 years. At BookWoman you’ll find an impressive selection of indie books and books written by women. Check out their merchandise which includes retro tote bags and t-shirts.
📍 5501 N Lamar Blvd #A-105, Austin
5. Recycled Reads
When you’re searching for great bookshops in Austin, Recycled Reads is one of the more sustainable choices. As well as accepting donations from the public, Recycled Reads houses all of Austin Public Library’s weeded books. Items such as books, recorded material, art, ephemera, games, and puzzles are shelved in this 5,000 square foot bookstore. Feel free to rid yourself of clutter such as CDs, DVDs, Audio cassettes, and more by donating them to this local bookshop.
📍 5335 Burnet Rd, Austin
6. Black Pearl Books
Black Pearl Books is a family-run bookstore with a mission to “promote – diversity, inclusion, and representation – through literature”. Established in late 2019, this bookshop was hit by the pandemic only four months into being open. However, between the social justice movement and Covid-19, Black Pearl Books received over 10,000 online orders during the month of June 2020.
Between book signings and the Redacted Reads Book Club, there are plenty of events being organized by Black Pearl Books. This independent bookshop named after a rare gemstone is here to serve a multi-cultural, multi-generational, and multi-socio-economic community.
📍 7112 Burnet Rd, Austin
7. Reverie Books
Reverie Books, Best of Austin winner for Best Tiny Bookshop, was built on passion rather than the desire for financial gain. Thais Perkins wanted to “make a meaningful place to kind of help us heal”. Reverie Books is Austin’s neighborhood bookstore offering new and used books. Perkins likes to make a point of making the shop a welcoming place for young people. Each semester a paid internship is made available to a high school student. While learning the ins and outs of running a business, the intern is also responsible for running Reverie’s Young Adult Banned Book Club.
📍 5330 Menchaca Rd Ste D, Austin
8. Resistencia Books
A cultural center in Austin, Resistencia Books has been providing quality literature to Austinites since 1983. This arty bookseller specializes in indigenous, Native American, Chicana-Mexicana, Latina, African American, queer, feminist, and children’s bilingual literature. Resistencia Books regularly hosts open-mics, film screenings, and poetry readings. It also shares its space with Red Salmon Arts—a cultural arts organization. Both Resistencia Books and Red Salmon Arts were founded by Raúl Salinas—a world-renowned poet.
📍 2000 Thrasher Ln, Austin