CNN Reports on America’s Coolest Bookstores


Recently, CNN reported their choices for the world’s coolest bookstores. Out of their list of 17, here are the US stores that made the cut:

Powell’s City of Books (Portland, Oregon)
The largest used and new bookstore in the world is housed inside a modest, multi-level building (currently undergoing extensive renovation) that takes up a full city block. New and used editions are shelved side by side, giving customers a handy choice of price options. The biggest names in publishing show up here to do readings and book signings.

Strand (New York)
Back in the 1920s, six blocks of Manhattan’s Fourth Avenue were known as “Book Row.”
Of the 48 bookstores that gave the district its name, Strand is the only survivor.
After moving to its current location on Broadway and 12th Street, the store built up a staggering catalog that now includes 2.5 million new, used and rare books. The coolest section is the Rare Book Room. “Our most expensive title in store right now is a copy of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ illustrated by Henri Matisse,” says marketing manager Brianne Sperber. The book is priced at $45,000.

John K. King Used & Rare Books (Detroit, Michigan)
Opened in 1965, this massive bookstore is one of Detroit’s must-visit venues. Housed in an old glove factory and with more than a million books in stock, the store has more than 900 alphabetized categories.

“Right now, we have a copy of the true First Edition of the Book of Mormon, priced at $100,000,” owner John K. King told CNN. “Our oldest book is a copy of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, printed in Venice in 1482.”

Parnassus Books (Nashville, Tennessee)
When “Bel Canto” author Ann Patchett opened a bookstore in Nashville with a partner she’d just met, she didn’t expect to be become the unofficial spokesperson for indie bookstores struggling in Amazon’s wake. Patchett’s efforts to publicize the store thrust it into the literary spotlight when it opened, securing a New York Times front page story and a spot on “The Colbert Report.” Thanks to Patchett’s connections, Parnassus has no shortage of famous writers turning up to read from their latest books. As befitting its location in the birthplace of country music, the store carries a thoughtfully curated music section.

The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles)
Hopefully, the Last Bookstore will never fulfill the prophecy of its name. The popular warehouse-like store buys and sells new and used books and is home to an excellent coffee bar and a record shop.
The store’s columnar displays of books are so cool, they served as a backdrop for a fashion shoot in the latest issue of “Esquire.” The 100,000 books stacked in the “Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore” section on the mezzanine level sell for a dollar each. “The space we occupy was originally a bank, and there are still vaults on both floors of our store, but now they are full of books,” says store manager Katie Orphan. “We generally have around 200,000 books in the store at any given time.”


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