The Best Bookstores for Used Books around Boston

In need of a read? Stocking secondhand hardcovers to gently loved paperbacks, these nine used bookstores prove that new isn’t always better.

Actors Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa at the Brattle Book Shop in Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers. / Courtesy Focus Features

A beautifully filled bookshelf is something to admire—but it takes a lot of work to get there. And for anyone who enjoys owning books rather than checking them out from the library, a visit to a used bookstore can be a way to fill those lovely shelves without spending too much.

But a good used bookstore is also usually a great repository for oddities and rarities. Sure, you may find a copy of a recent bestseller that someone has already read and discarded, but at their best, used bookstores offer the perfect opportunity to browse and discover the treasure you didn’t know you needed.

From nonprofits to diversity-focused sellers and bargain cellars, these used bookstores around Boston are paving the way for voracious readers to have the book collections of their dreams.

Last updated November 2023; check back for periodic updates.

The Book Rack

For two-plus decades, the Book Rack has fed the reading addictions of Greater Boston residents from its Arlington Center storefront, where the independent bookseller relocated from its original Lexington location in 1999. At up to 50 percent off the cover price—plus store credit if your trade in your own gently used books—their shelves upon shelves of previously loved pages are almost too good to be true. Almost.

13 Medford St., Arlington, 781-646-2665,

Book Wonder Books Wonder’s collection of diverse titles. / Photo courtesy of Book Wonder

Book Wonder

Don’t be fooled by this bookseller’s petite appearance—its two locations occupy corners of the 4GoodVibes gift shop and Trove Green Provisions in Medford. While it may be small, its collection of graphic novels and books for all ages is mighty. Book Wonder’s selection focuses on stories that highlight under-represented communities, including people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and individuals with disabilities, to name a few—from children’s picture books to young adult fiction. All sales help fund its Little Free Diverse Library in South Medford, as well as contribute to literacy initiatives in the community.

4GoodVibes, 392 Main St., Medford, 617-312-2660; Trove Green Provisions, 330A Boston Ave., Medford, 339-545-1447;

Bryn Mawr Bookstore

With all proceeds funding Bryn Mawr College scholarships for students from New England, this Cambridge book shop offers used books that give back. (Bryn Mawr Bookstore has donated over a million dollars in the half-century since alumni first opened the shop in 1971.) From cookbooks to gardening, thrillers, and nonfiction—plus rare books and CDs, DVDs, and even sheet music—this bookstore has everything your heart may desire and more. Even better? Every month there’s a half-price sale for a rotating genres of books, so check back regularly to get discounts on your favorites. Cash only.

373 Huron Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-1770,

Brattle Book Shop’s bargain book carts in Downtown Boston. / Photo by Alex Gagne

Brattle Book Shop

Likely the most photographed bookstore in Boston, the circa-1825 Brattle is instantly recognizable for its outdoor bargain-book carts—so recognizable, the open-air spot even made a cameo in Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers. In the warmer weather, there’s no reason not to spend an hour or more sifting through the stacks to find a hidden gem. If you’d like a little more organization, inside the three-story shop you can find everything from fiction to history, cookbooks to biographies, and a rare book room filled with first editions, collectibles, and more. There’re maps, prints, and postcards, too, if you’re into pictures rather than just words.

9 West St., Boston, 617-542-0210,

Brookline Booksmith

If you’re ready for a scavenger hunt, head to Brookline Booksmith’s basement. You may not even realize there’s a treasure trove of over 25,000 remainders (or overstock books from publishers), children’s books, and more just under your feet—in the Used Book Cellar, to be more specific. Affordable finds range from recently published popular reads to classics, essay collections, feminist literature, graphic novels, memoirs—we could go on and on. Make sure to check back often for new arrivals, and even bring your own pre-loved tomes in to sell.

279 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-566-6660,

The shelves at Commonwealth Books. / Photo by @amyandiggs on Instagram

Commonwealth Books

One reason to visit Commonwealth Books is its wide selection of antique prints and maps. Another reason to seek out this Downtown Crossing shop is its collection of 40,000+ titles, ranging from mysteries to architecture, arts and philosophy, all the way to medieval manuscript pages (yes, you read that right). You likely won’t find many modern romance novels here, as it leans towards the classics. But who knows, there might be a few bestsellers hidden amongst the shelves. But you’re more likely to find a few leather-bound Charlotte Brontë novels, vintage children’s books, magazines and comics, or niche history and reference books you never knew you needed on your to-be-read list.

9 Spring Ln., Boston, 617-338-6328,

Harvard Book Store in 2013. / Photo by Rick Friedman/ via Getty Images

Harvard Book Store

A book basement with steep discounts on everything from how-tos to science fiction, self-help and psychology? Count us in. The aisles at this Harvard Square shop are always bustling, but stake your claim in front of the shelves and scan the spines to your heart’s content. A few times a year, the Harvard Book Store also hosts an extra big virtual warehouse sale, so be on the lookout for an invitation to shop its carefully curated selection of bargain books—including overstock volumes in like-new condition—online, too.

1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-1515,

Bookshelves at Rodney's Bookstore

The shelves at Rodney’s Bookstore. / Photo by Makena Gera

Rodney’s Bookstore

Just beyond the hub of activity in Harvard Square is a literary oasis. Head down Church Street and find a red awning-ed storefront just waiting for you to sift through its shelves upon shelves of fiction, poetry, young adult novels. There’s even an entire section dedicated to art books (if you’re in the market for a near-mint coffee table book at a reasonable price). Opened in 2023 in the former location of Raven Used Books, Rodney’s is stocked to the brim with all manner of titles. Your literary snob friends will be none the wiser when you add a few second-hand tomes, or 94-cent bargain books to your shelves.

23 Church St., Cambridge, 617-441-6999,

More Than Words in the South End. / Photo by @tazisbooked on Instagram

More Than Words

What’s even better than gently used books? Ones that give back. More Than Words is a nonprofit that employs Boston’s youth to run its online, retail, and wholesale bookselling programs, empowers individuals who are unhoused, in the foster care system, or court-involved to gain professional experience, and even benefit from a Career Services Program after their work at More Than Words is over. Every purchase—whether it’s a secondhand classic bought on the organization’s website, or a previously owned bestseller from their South End or Waltham storefronts, or something picked up from their mobile pop-up shops (there’s one at the 2023 Holiday Market at Snowport, for example)—benefits the nonprofit’s mission.

242 East Berkeley St., Boston, 617-674 5565; 56 Felton St., Waltham; 781-314-9330;