Where to Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day on May 2

Boston's finest independent retailers are offering exclusive merchandise and a variety of themed events.

Last year, California Bookstore Day launched on the West Coast, highlighting independent vendors and encouraging customers to support local retailers who continue to sell books in a world dominated by Kindles and iPads. The campaign worked exactly as organizers intended—it brought eager readers back to the shelves of independent bookstores.

After last year’s successful stint, Independent Bookstore Day is going national for the first time. On May 2, more than 400 vendors nationwide will take part in a celebration of books and their dedicated, independent sellers. Participating retailers will offer 16 pieces of exclusive Independent Bookstore Day memorabilia, a decorative world map featuring a box set complete with works from Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Helene Hanff, Rebecca Makkai, and Charlie Lovett, a Captain Underpants print, tea towels adorned with literary quotes, and more.

In addition to picking up select merchandise at participating retailers, you can also celebrate outside of the city in Wilmington with the Book, Paper and Photo Exposition and Sale at Shriner’s Auditorium, sponsored by the Southern New England Antiquarian Booksellers. At this one-day expo, you can check out selections from more than 50 dealers, including some local favorites like the Brattle Book Shop and Commonwealth Books.

On Independent Bookstore Day—and every other day you’re craving something good to read—there are plenty of places in Boston to satisfy your literary cravings. Below are a few of our very own finest written-word retailers.

Harvard Book Store

The Harvard Book Store has served as a landmark in Cambridge for more than 80 years. Known for their home delivery by bike for locals, high-profile author talks, and a printing press affectionately known as Paige M. Gutenberg, the shop has all the stand-out qualities of an independent icon. In order to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day, the Harvard Book Store will host literary critic and Harvard professor James Wood to discuss his latest book The Nearest Thing to Life and offer the exclusive Independent Bookstore Day merchandise. 

1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, harvard.com.

Trident Booksellers and Cafe

Known for feeding both the body and the mind, Trident Booksellers and Cafe has become a quintessential stop to grab some brunch and browse some books. This Newbury Street institution has also become known for craft and trivia nights, as well as its new podcast Tripod, which talks book recommendations and what’s happening in the store. On May 2, swing by for games, giveaways, and the day’s special edition merchandise.

338 Newbury St., Boston, tridentbookscafe.com.

Papercuts J.P.

This small space opened its doors in Jamaica Plain late last year, and has stocked its shelves with more than 3,000 titles, including best sellers, local books, poetry, graphic novels, and more. On Independent Bookstore Day, the shop will host live music from Rick Berlin and Club Mediterranean, as well as author talks from Jabari Asim, Randy Susan Meyers, Paul Tremblay, Chris Irvin, and children’s book illustrator Katia Wish. It will also offer opportunities to purchase the day’s special edition merchandise.

5 Green St., Jamaica Plain, event info

Brattle Book Shop

A Boston institution since 1825, the three-story building in the heart of downtown Boston is one of the largest antiquarian bookstores in the country, with over 250,000 titles on hand. This impressive collection includes rare, first-edition printings and collectables, as well as leather-bound books.

9 West St., Boston, brattlebookshop.com.

Wellesley Books

Wellesley Books is an independent shop nestled in the heart of Wellesley Square, known for an extensive children’s department. To honor the first national Independent Bookstore Day, Wellesley Books will host a day full of literary-themed events, such as green eggs and ham for breakfast (with mimosas for adults), a traditional Jane Austen afternoon tea, and an F. Scott Fitzgerald Speakeasy with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. They will also sell the featured Independent Bookstore Day merchandise.

82 Central St., Wellesley, wellesleybooks.com.

Porter Square Books

To mark Independent Bookstore Day, this Porter Square spot will host scavenger hunts for both children and adults, as well as demonstrations from chef Jeremy Sewall, author of The New England Kitchen, and Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and Café. Surrounding businesses will also offer discounts to those who purchase items, including the exclusive Independent Bookstore Day merchandise, from Porter Square Books on May 2.

25 White St., Cambridge, portersquarebooks.com.

The Blue Bunny Bookstore

Founded by New York Times best-selling children’s book author Peter Reynolds, The Blue Bunny has made a name for itself with a vast selection of children’s books and special story times. On Independent Bookstore Day, the shop will host local folk singer Tom Smith and kick off a scavenger hunt that will last through the month. Owner Peter Reynolds will also be on hand, operating a video booth where customers can share a one-minute pitch about their favorite books. Stop by for snacks and a chance to grab exclusive merchandise.

577 High St., Dedham, bluebunnybooks.com

Brookline Booksmith

This shop is a neighborhood favorite for Brookline-based bookworms. Its two stories house both new and used selections, as well as the Giftsmith, a gift shop featuring vintage beer glasses and other funky finds.

279 Harvard St., Brookline, brooklinebooksmith-shop.com

Commonwealth Books

The two locations of Commonwealth Books (both located downtown) are the must-see stops for antique junkies. With a large collection of arts, architecture, history, literature, philosophy, and religion books, as well as antique prints, the shops’ offerings appeal to a wide variety of tastes. From $3 finds to rarities with price tags that run through the thousands, this book shop has something for everyone—from the broke book lover to the refined collector.

9 Spring Lane, Boston, commonwealthbooks.com

Calamus Bookstore

One of the country’s last LGBT bookstores, Calamus Bookstore is a remaining relic of the LGBT equality movement. From books on gender identity to vintage LGBT classics, many of the special titles offered at this South End spot won’t be found at other retailers.

92 South St., Boston, facebook.com/calamusbooks.

Rodney’s Book Store

Nestled in Central Square and boasting 45,000 titles of all types, Rodney’s Book Store is also known for its eclectic mix of memorabilia. Complete with a poster-printing service that can recreate one of 6,000 vintage images or your own, Rodney’s also offers bookshelves, bookends, paintings, tables, and other assortments of knick-knacks.

698 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, rodneysbookstore.com

Pandemonium Books and Games

Pandemonium has enticing selections for sci-fi, horror, and fantasy fanatics. This book and game store has both new and used selections, and hosts events each night that draw members of the community together for board and role playing games.

4 Pleasant St., Cambridge, pandemoniumbooks.com.