Favorite DC Bookstores?

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Favorite DC Bookstores?

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Aug 3, 2006, 4:53pm

Olsson's? Politics and Prose? Kramerbooks?

Where do you like to buy your books?

Aug 3, 2006, 4:59pm

Of the above three, Olsson's. Kramer's is ok, but the layout isn't ideal and I don't think it's as well stocked as Olsson's. I like Politics and Prose, but since I don't live near it anymore, I don't go nearly as often.

Second Story has great used book sidewalk sales during the week.

3piccolaserenata8 First Message
Aug 3, 2006, 5:25pm

I like Kramers for the desserts and music and social opportunities, but I don't think I've ever actually bought any books there. My friends and I like to browse through little used bookstores when we're looking to expand our libraries.

Aug 3, 2006, 5:41pm

Politics and Prose, definitely. I grew up with it, and even remember when it was on the other side of Connecticut Ave. They make it such a relaxing place to sit and browse, although the coffee shop isn't nearly as comfortable as it used to be.

Aug 3, 2006, 10:14pm

A word from the DC suburb of Rockville! :-)

My two favorite bookstores are the The Friends of the Library used bookstores. One is located in Wheaton, Maryland, and the other is in Rockville, Maryland.

At just $2 per book (I buy trade paperbacks) , the prices can't be beat. I visit one of the stores at least once a week.

Aug 4, 2006, 11:16am

I vote for Olsson's as well, I visit the Dupont one all the time. I do like Politics and Prose for their book signings though, they always get the authors I like.

Second Story always seems like it could be a great used book store but when I go in there I never find much that interests me.

Aug 4, 2006, 11:17am

Oh, and just FYI - Olsson's has everything 20% off until Monday.

Aug 5, 2006, 7:16am

I agree with you about Second Story Books. I usually buy trade paperbacks. They have a huge inventory of books--just not what I'm looking for.

I recently decided to go to Second Story Books and buy just one book - to support them. I ended up buying Secret Rendezvous by Kobo Abe but found out, when I got home, that I already had a copy of that book!!! :-(

Aug 11, 2006, 9:52pm

Hole in the Wall in Falls Church, but I guess that is really Northern Virginia.

Edited: Aug 29, 2006, 6:50am

I'm a big fan of Second Story, but if you want the real Second Story experience you really have to trek up to the well-hidden, enormous warehouse in Rockville.

It's really hard to find.

Which makes you feel sooo leet when you find it. ☺ Don't let the photo on the site fool you. In fact, don't let the entire facade fool you, right up until you step through the door. You'll keep telling yourself "This can't be a bookstore!" But it is, and how.


Capitol Hill Books is also worth a wander. Some of the stacks are almost Seussian in their precariousness. I hope I'm not the only one who's knocked brought down the entire science section. But I must admit that the fact the foreign language books (my section!) is in the bathroom makes me grumble.


Aug 29, 2006, 11:32am

I haven't been to Capitol Hill Books in ages, I'd practically forgotten all about it.

I found a lovely copy of Little Women there with full color illustrations that's one of my book treasures.

Sep 10, 2006, 12:55am

I'll second the endoresement for the second city warehouse in Rockville. We drove around in circles until we found it and then spent waaaaaaaay too much money for a used book store. It's huge and wonderful.

Sep 10, 2006, 9:24am

I just want to let you know where to find these stores. They are definitely a win-win situation for everyone in the DC/MD area.

These are the FOTL used book store locations and hours.

The money made from the sale of these books gets put back into the libraries. My local library uses the funds to buy DVDs which are then put into circulation for free.

Just don't buy the books that I want when you get to these stores! :-D

14sydlibrary First Message
Sep 26, 2006, 11:54pm

My vote is for Chapters - A Literary Bookstore. Love it - they're my favorite place to browse for foreign literature.

Sep 27, 2006, 6:23am

Where is Chapters located?

Sep 29, 2006, 2:06pm

Is that the one downtown, on 11th (I think)?

I seem to recall seeing it near the E Street movie theater.

17ElvisMaximus First Message
Nov 10, 2006, 5:29pm

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Bridge Street Books in Georgetown. It's not large, but the inventory is quite different from what you'll find at Borders or Barnes & Noble.

Nov 10, 2006, 11:01pm

Just to throw it out there, but every single branch of Prince George's County Public Libraries has a friends-run bookstore, too.

Nov 11, 2006, 12:03am

Not too far from DC is Daedelus Books. It's located in Columbia, Maryland. It's a warehouse type store that has remainders...although almost all of the book looked brand new. I buy trade paperbacks. The day I went to Daedelus, I bought 5 books for $20. They were interesting books that I'd probably not have found in my used book store.

Has anyone else discovered this bookstore yet?

20XnmHtp First Message
Dec 24, 2006, 5:52pm

Candida's World of Books, 14th & Q Sts., N.W. -- Language and travel book store.

Jan 26, 2007, 5:36pm

Candida's is a wonderful bookstore!

For my interests, the bookstore at Wesley Seminary (next to American University), and the gift shop at Washington National Cathedral (even though it has many drawbacks, it has a very good book selection).

Jan 29, 2007, 3:58pm

Olssens is great, but Kramer's has the best variety. I always see so many fabulous things there. That said, Olssen's in Dupont Circle and Rockville get extra points for the cute stationary and other assorted adorable junk.

Thanks for the friends of the library heads up, SqueakyChu!

Jan 29, 2007, 4:09pm

Would you folks mind posting a few of these places in the "Favorite Bookstores" group?

If you follow the suggested format for the subject line, they would sort alphabetically, by location. It is mere coincidence that my wife and I are planning a trip to D.C. in mid-March, and visiting bookstores is high on our priority list.


24meara First Message
Mar 17, 2007, 3:34pm

The Book Alcove up in Gaithersburg is by far my favorite used bookstore around here--it's a labyrinth!

The Second Story warehouse in Rockville is big (and just a block from where I work!) but the one time I went there seemed very short on "genre" fiction (scifi, romance, mystery)

Edited: Mar 17, 2007, 9:24pm

I forgot about the Book Alcove. I know where it's located but have never checked it out. That's now on my "To do" list!

Mar 17, 2007, 10:18pm

Busboys & Poets is one of my favorite spaces in the entire city. I could spend hours there, and usually do. I still go to Borders (esp. Friendship Heights, because I live close by) when I have to find something specific, because it is more likely to be there. All the small, wonderful indie stores are better for browsing and getting lost it...

May 23, 2007, 10:25pm

Friends of the Library -- Arlington -- have a bookdrive twice a year. Books are cheap and you can find just about everything.
For books in Spanish, I order them in Amazon, they are difficult to find.

28Stefanwulf First Message
Jun 1, 2007, 3:13pm

When I'm not looking for something particularly rare/don't have a specific book in mind, I tend to do my used book browsing at Idle Time, on 18th street...every time I stop in I find at least one or two things to interest me.

Jun 29, 2007, 7:07pm

Re: Message 9: Shrike58: Agreed - wonderful bookstore. I'm a patron of more than 25 years (there used to be a wonderful used record shop nearby in the early 80s).

Also of note are Burke's Used Books in Burke, and Reston's Used Books - which has managed to surive in the Lake Anne center for 30 years.

Jun 29, 2007, 7:14pm

Re:Message 10: snifty

Yes, a pilgrimage worth making (though they tend to know what they have). While there, make sure to stop by St. Mary's to visit Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's graves.

Mar 20, 2008, 3:44am

Most of the books I buy these days are classics or cheap mysteries. I get both of those at Second Story. When I do buy something new, it tends to be at the nearby Dupont Circle Olssen's. I love the idea of Chapters, and I love browsing there, but I seldom find anything that's a must-have.

Dec 7, 2008, 9:21pm

Kramerbooks is cool. Its kind of a social place, having a restaurant and bar there makes it a little loud and hectic, but worth a trip.
Capitol Hill books fits my idea of a great local bookstore. The books are used and cheap. You can find great old editions of books. The books are stacked from floor to ceiling leaving little space to walk. It can be hard to find what you are looking for, but you always find something you like. I always leave with two or three books I never intended to buy, all for under ten bucks. Check it out, It is amazing.

Dec 7, 2008, 11:59pm

I had never seen this thread before, but I was just discussing the Second Story warehouse in Rockville with benwaugh yesterday. It's a good place to find things that don't "move" in their other outlets, so if you like to browse for the more obscure tomes, it's a great place.

It is not particularly accessible. I used to get off at the closest Metro station and climb the winding, gradually ascending sidewalks through the nondescript landscape to get there, but I was at least rewarded with a couple hours of good browsing, and the walk back to the station, laden with books, was at least downhill.

There were a couple of good used bookstores nearby when I worked in Bethesda, but I know that one of them (located in a basement) went out of business several years ago. There was also a good used bookstore in a more dicey part of DC, which eventually moved to a hip location in Alexandria. I can't for the life of me remember the names of these stores, but I hope they have survived.

Jan 21, 2009, 8:28pm


Second Story will ship your purchases free if you are in the metro area.

Jan 29, 2009, 1:21pm

I went to Capitol Hill Books for the first time this weekend! It was great! You shouldn't go there to look for a specific book, but to find something that jumps out at you. One of my top five favorite places in DC, definitely!

May 19, 2009, 1:36am

Capitol Hill Books is my favorite too! I get lost there sometimes.

May 28, 2010, 1:19am

Bridge Street Books in Georgetown is one of the best general bookstores in DC. Great selection. If you like Catholic history and theology, the Newman Bookstore at the Paulist seminary near Catholic U. is excellent.