Amazon and Barnes and Noble may be easy, obvious picks for bookworms, but their expansive collections and overflowing shelves are nothing compared to the charms of your neighborhood bookstores. Austin has plenty to choose from, with everything from geeky comic book stores to an award-winning shop.
We've gathered a definitive list of all the indie bookstores in Austin, so you can shop smart — and local.
12th Street Books
Rare book collectors, look no further. 12th Street Books sells all the rare and antique books you can think of (and definitely the ones you can't), including some pretty amazing first editions. It also sells small-press titles on diverse subjects that are hard to find at major retailers. It's the only walk-in rare book room in the city, and to top it off, it's cozy as heck.
Austin Books and Comics
This is the self-proclaimed center of Austin's pop culture fandom. It's called Austin home since 1977, and it's every local comic book lover's favorite stop in town. Find your favorite graphic novels here and stock up on all the pop culture collectibles you could ever need. You can even make some cash selling collectibles, from toys to vintage video games.
BookPeople is Austin's biggest independent bookstore and one of the best of its kind in Texas. An Austin staple since 1970, it's been voted the best bookstore in Austin for the last 15 years, and for good reason. BookPeople boasts an expansive collection of books with an Austin spin. Shelves are marked with plenty of employee recommendations, so it's easy to choose what to read next. BookPeople hosts events year-round, inviting authors spanning from Jonathan Safran Foer to Grace Helbig to Hillary Clinton.
BookWoman is Austin's feminist bookstore. No, it's not like the one in Portlandia (sorry), but it is excellent and has been serving Austin's feminist and queer communities for nearly 40 years. There's a book club that meets once a month on Thursday nights and chooses a new book monthly, and the shop hosts regular open mic poetry nights and readings.
Brave New Books
Perhaps the most eccentric of Austin's indie bookstores, Brave New Books is sometimes controversial, often a little nutty, but never boring. Spend an afternoon here to widen your mind, if your inner conspiracy theorist is ready to come out to play, or if you're just plain curious.
Capstone is another of Austin's leading comic book stores. A huge perk for anyone entrenched in a fandom? It sells figurines and statue, so if you're a collector, you'll totally geek out here.
Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy
This shop is another must-stop for Austin fantasy lovers. Plus, Dragon's Lair hosts meetups for Dungeons and Dragons, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and more, as well as various other special events.
Farewell Books has some of Austin's best new and used art-related books and even doubles as an art gallery with rotating exhibits. There's an online store to purchase art publications from the comfort of your couch too.
Fifth Dimension Books
This bookstore isn't like one you've ever seen before, and not because of its unique collection (although it sells some of the best sci-fi, fantasy, and other fringe books that Austin has to offer). It's a mobile bookstore, located in the back of a truck that moves around Austin as its owners see fit. You can usually find it somewhere around Hyde Park or the UT campus, but check the website before you go hunting.
Not only is Malvern Books the premier shop in Austin for fiction and poetry, it's also a really cool place to hang out. It hosts poetry and book readings, and the long table serves as a great meeting space where book clubs are welcome.
This shop is perfect for students studying social justice or economics or anyone with interest in the topics. It promises to be "something radically different," and it delivers. It's run completely by volunteers and also hosts film screenings, musical performances, general assemblies, brunches, author presentations, and much more.
This east side bookseller is home to books on political activism, as well as Native American, Mexican, Latino, Chicano, and African-American cultures. It also sells bilingual children's books and has a special space for queer and feminist literature. It plays host to poetry slams, book readings, and more.
South Congress Books
South Austin's resident indie bookstore has a lot to offer when it comes to topics like art, photography, literature, music, vintage children's books, and more. It even sells vintage music posters and art. Looking for a gift for the booklover in your life? South Congress Books should be the first stop for something unique and from the heart.