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These 7 Independent Bookstores Prove Reading Is Still Fundamental

Bookstores aren't dead; they've just gone independent. And many are thriving, if Amazon's entry into the world of brick-and-mortar retail is an indication. Here are seven great independent bookstores where you should be spending your hard-earned dollar.

1. The Book Cellar


Location: 4736 N Lincoln Ave

Nearby Developments: The Book Cellar is one of the anchors of Lincoln Square's emerging retail corridor.

The Book Cellar hosts readings, storytelling events and author signings, and its café is also popular with shoppers looking to while away an afternoon turning pages and sipping coffee or wine.

2. City Lit Books


Location: 2523 N Kedzie Blvd

Nearby Developments: Its location near the heart of Logan Square puts  City Lit in the center of all the TOD happenings along Milwaukee Avenue.

One of the newer bookstores in Chicago has proven popular with Logan Square residents in large part thanks to City Lit's outreach via readings, children's story time, author readings and signings, and a monthly book club.


3. Open Books


Location: 651 W Lake St and 905 W 19th St

Nearby Developments: Open Books' Lake Street store is in the heart of the West Loop, with activity across several real estate sectors. Its Pilsen outpost puts it in the heart of a burgeoning submarket with brisk multifamily and retail activity.

Open Books is a nonprofit venture that works to improve the literacy of students and adults through educational programs and selling books donated to the organization through its two warehouse-style bookstores. The proceeds from those sales fund Open Books' programs. Open Books granted over 97,000 books to students in its programs during the 2014-15 school year.

4. Quimby's


Location: 1854 W North Ave

Nearby Developments: Blink twice and you'll miss all the happenings going on around Wicker Park's six corners intersection of North, Milwaukee and Damen avenues, which is morphing into a solid mix of local and national retailers.

A Wicker Park mainstay for 25 years, Quimby's specializes in selling DIY zines and self-published books, and is committed to selling books and periodicals you won't find even in the other shops on this list.

5. Seminary Co-Op


Location: 5751 S Woodlawn

Nearby Developments: The University of Chicago has been busy disposing of its real estate holdings. Its latest offering includes some prime retail assets along 57th Street.

Member-owned, operated and proudly independent since 1961, Seminary Co-Op's reach and influence spans the globe with over 53,000 members. It's easy to join. Shares are sold for $10 each; a $30 purchase makes you a member with an annual purchase credit equal to 10% of the prior year's purchase. Seminary Co-Op's 57th Street bookstore is widely regarded as stocking one of the best and largest inventories of academic books in the country. The co-op has grown to include bookstores at the Newberry Library.

6. Unabridged


Location: 3251 N Broadway

Nearby Developments: There's a TOD on Clark and Belmont that's replacing iconic Lakeview retailer The Alley.

Unabridged has earned a reputation for stocking quality poetry, LGBT literature and children's books in its 35-year history, and there are no signs of slowing. The store's events calendar includes author readings and discussions.

7. Women & Children First


Location: 5233 N Clark St

Nearby Developments: Clark Street in Andersonville is already an active retail district. Head east for some busy multifamily repositionings from Cedar St.

The premier feminist bookstore in America, Women & Children First focuses on books by and about women, children's books and LGBT authors. A change in ownership and recent renovations have breathed new life into the store, with an amped-up events calendar both in the store and around the area that included a sold-out discussion last October between feminist icons Gloria Steinem and Roxane Gay.