Swann’s Favorite Independent Bookstores of 2023

Swann started as a specialized auction house for rare books in 1941 and we continue to hold auctions dedicated to the genre every year (as the saying goes: once a book house, always a book house), so it’s no surprise that our specialists and staff love to read (see our annual summer readings lists!). In honor of the 10th anniversary of National Independent Bookstore Day on April 29 we asked everyone to share their favorite indie stores across the US.

Andrew Ansorge, CFO

Argosy, where else?

Alexandra Mann-Nelson, CMO

In addition to the obvious (Argosy) we might want to give a little shout-out to Little City Books in Hoboken, which is where I buy anything new. They’re a short walk from the PATH train, near bars and coffee shops, and have a great overall selection for adults, but the star of the show is their children’s book annex, where I do 100% of my Christmas shopping each year. From limited editions of Bunnicula to board books, chapter book classics and a really amazing, diverse selection of picture books, it’s a must-visit for anyone with a kid in their life.

Meagan Gandolfo, Cataloguer, Prints & Drawings

Not exactly a hole in the wall, but this is a large bookstore by Bryant Park with a good kid’s section. I went in there for the first time to kill some time, but I’ve been back since then — it’s not just Manga.  It has several locations, but mostly Japan.

Devon Eastland, Senior Specialist, Early Printed Books

Marco Tomaschett, Specialist, Autographs

Deborah Rogal, Director, Photographs & Photobooks

Parnassus Books in Nashville is everything you want in an indie bookstore. It’s full of friendly staff who have recommendations and clearly take honest to goodness pleasure in reading, it’s cozy, and it’s stuffed with good books. You may even find a dog or two roaming around. I made my second visit there last fall and was lucky enough to speak briefly to its owner, the incredible writer Ann Patchett who, yes, endorsed my book selections and basically made my whole year.

Growing up, my family made pilgrimages to Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City, Iowa, and it was this place that taught me so much about myself as a reader. I still treasure the bookmarks I have from my many, many visits.

Kelsie Jankowski, Communications Manager

One of my favorite spots to hang out in NYC is Book Club Bar in the East Village. Along with a standout selection of books, they have a rotating calendar of events: author talks, trivia nights, drawing/writing workshops, and genre book clubs run by their staff. I’m currently a part of their romance book club run by Lissa!

When I’m visiting my hometown I love to stop in to Blue Willow Bookshop — the location has been an independent bookstore since 1973, changing hands once in 1996 to become Blue Willow. The best part about indie shops is the cozy charm they possess and the passion and knowledge each owner has for the books they sell — this one has that in spades.

Nigel Freeman, Director, African American Art

One of my favorite indie book stores is Arcana: Books on the Arts. If you are in Los Angeles, it’s found in the gallery district of Culver City. Its beautiful, gallery-like space has many rare and out of print books on the arts — a great place to find scarce books on African American artists

Maddie Ligenza, Digital Media Associate

Diana Gibaldi, Operations Manager

Rick Stattler, Director, Books & Manuscripts

The Next Chapter in Huntington on Long Island. We don’t see many new brick-and-mortar bookstores opening these days, but this one launched last year and is a real gem.