As the home of Printer’s Row, you’d think the South Loop would have some decent bookstores. While there aren’t as many as there used to be, and the presses in the warehouses-turned-condos no longer run, the area is still known for its history with the printed word. In fact, every summer the streets turn into the Printer’s Row Book Fair, a giant celebration of the art of writing, and reading. With that in mind, we’ve found the best bookstores in the neighborhood.
Since 1982, Sandmeyer’s Bookstore has been a family-owned business. A lot’s changed since they first opened their doors thirty-five years ago, and despite the proliferation of electronic readers like Kindles and Nooks, this bookstore is still going strong. What’s kept them a neighborhood favorite is the selection they offer. You can get the latest bestsellers, but you can also find lesser-known titles that you may not find anywhere else.
While big box bookstores have been closing at an alarming rate, one that’s still around is Barnes & Noble just inside the Loop in downtown Chicago. It probably helps that it’s on the DePaul University campus and there are several other colleges and universities within walking distance, so students are fixtures at the on-site cafe.
One of the most well-respected bookstores in the city is Barbara’s Bookstore. While its South Loop location unfortunately closed this year, there’s still one in downtown Chicago at Macy’s on State Street. Located in the pedway level, this location is not just a few shelves, but a full-fledged branch of the local chain. Being in Macy’s also makes it a popular spot for book signings, and guest authors have included Gene Hackman, Emeril Lagasse, Ty Pennington, Gordon Ramsay, Rachael Ray and Nicholas Sparks.
A quick jaunt up to River North will take you to After-Words Bookstore. It’s one of the few remaining independent bookstores and houses an impressive collection of more than 70,000 works. They carry just about every genre, and they offer both new and used books.
When you want to pick up a book to hold in your hand, these downtown Chicago bookstores will help you find the next item for your personal library.