Staff Picks: Our favorite indie bookstores

It probably won’t surprise anyone that Microcosm workers love us some independent bookstores. In honor of Small Business Saturday this November 27th, we’re joining the American Booksellers Association “Indies First” campaign to encourage everyone to pay a visit to their local bookstore and pick up some holiday gifts (and reads for yourself, too, of course). Not sure where your nearest bookstore is? This map at is easy to use and decently complete.

Here are some of our staff faves, edited for length (most of us had several and it was very hard to choose).

Sidnee, operations manager: Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA. The multiple floors makes it feel so magical and their kid section is awesome. Such friendly employees and I always find great gifts there, plus they’re great about supporting local artists of color with readings and features.

Glenn, data and shipping assistant: Visible Voice Books, Cleveland, OH. My local go-to. On the top floor of a converted funeral home, with a pizza place below it and a basement BBQ restaurant. It is very small but really well stocked with selected fiction and some very deep nonfiction sections, especially music and politics and local Cleveland things. Also has a cafe space with coffee and tea and wine and beer, where I spend most Sunday afternoons.

Sarah, store and receiving manager: Rose City Book Pub, Portland, OR. I love it and the owner is amazing. They have a special shelf for local and self published authors. The owner is an incredible baker and everyday she brings in a different kind of pastry. The back patio is platonic Portland vibes with murals, overgrown plants, and fairy lights.

Rose, intern: Phoenix Bookstore, Burlington, VT. A community favorite that hosts great author events. 

Kristine, key accounts manager: Moe’s Books, Berkeley, CA. Great selection of new books (including, ahem, a good selection of Microcosm), great selection of used books (and very fair trade-in prices), great rare/collectible books & paper ephemera section on the 4th floor, 1st Amendment warriors (busted for obscenity for selling Zap and Snatch comics in ’68), terrific events (hopefully resuming soon), all around good people.

Lydia, publicity manager and editorial associate: Village Books and Paper Dreams, Bellingham and Lynden, WA. Village Books and Paper Dreams in Bellingham (and Lynden!) Washington are great. The cozy atmosphere, cafe and three (!) stories of books in the main shop in downtown Fairhaven are an absolute treat. They do good work too with local writers groups and host author events regularly, and have an incredible selection of new and used books.

Vevina, intern: Mother Foucault’s Bookshop, Portland, OR. I absolutely love Mother Foucault in Portland. The place is a beautiful mess inside and full of different books ranging from Kafka to Kristeva. But what I really love is that they have a lot of literary theory books.

Lex, editorial and marketing manager: Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC. Scuppernong Books in Greensboro. Great poetry section, great kids curation, always good conversation with the owners and staff and bar for working with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. They were my first point of contact in Greensboro.

Pandora, intern: The Corvallis Book Bin, Corvallis, OR. The Corvallis Bookbin! I’m biased because I work there but… it’s a good team and I love being here!

Kalen, sales director: Mutiny Information Cafe, Denver and Trinidad, CO. They’re a fantastic community hub here in Denver. In addition to a fun and unexpected selection of books and zines (lots from small presses), they have great coffee, Biggie Smalls the bookstore cat, and events from punk shows to candidate forums. They also have a community pantry out in front of the store and do a lot of mutual aid support.

Elly, marketing and editorial director: Main Street Books, Minot, ND. Very far away from anywhere else in the US, this cozy, homey bookstore does a fantastic job serving its community. We first went there when it was a venue for some of the more acoustic elements of the Why Not Minot Fest. They serve a community that’s deeply conservative but also home to workers who come from around the world and a left-leaning student population, and they manage this with grace.

Joe, publisher: Mac’s Backs, Cleveland OH. When I was a shorter person, trying to figure out why the books that everyone insisted on showing to me were so boring, Mac’s Backs began subtly showing me politics and history that I had no idea about. Like any great bookstore, I could quietly poke around and find things that suited my ballooning brain. And I can attribute 20% of my self-awareness to the topics that I uncovered there was well as the lack of judgment that I received at the counter.