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Ultimate Guide to Buffalo & WNY’s Indie Bookstores

Books, City Guide, Culture & Arts, Shopping

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Written by Emily Malkowski

Published on November 29, 2021
local independent bookstores: Talking Leaves
Buffalo Books / Photo Courtesy of Talking Leaves Bookstore

Any self-proclaimed book-lover will agree: there’s something truly special about cracking open a brand new physical book. I mean, really, does the “new book smell” ever get old? In an age of e-readers and audiobooks, it’s easy to forget about just how magical this experience can be; lucky for Western New Yorkers, we have a pretty impressive array of independent bookstores to help remind us. 

Regardless of your preferred method of consuming stories and information, we highly recommend supporting the local book shops in Buffalo that keep our community reading. Who knows, maybe you’ll even stumble upon your new favorite book! Grab a coffee and a friend (or don’t, if solo reading is your jam) and hit up the spots in our bookworm-approved guide below:

Did we miss one? Did one of these places close? Send us a note!

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1. Talking Leaves Bookstore

951 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo /  Website

Talking Leaves is, without a doubt, a Buffalo classic. It’s the oldest of all the city’s independent bookstores (opened in 1971) with an adorable storefront on Elmwood holding an assortment of new titles just waiting to be explored. Stop by Caffe Aroma next door before or after your visit for the full experience- where else would you rather enjoy your new book than on their adorable patio with a glass of wine? Just saying.

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2. The Rust Belt Bookstore

415 Grant Street, Buffalo / Website

Originally located in Allentown, Rust Belt Books found its new home on Buffalo’s West Side just a few years ago. Since then, they’ve consistently offered a wide collection of books for their customers’ browsing pleasure, along with frequently hosting performances, poetry readings, monthly art exhibits, and morning meditation events in their cozy space. Just be sure to give the resident bookstore kitty, Buddha, some love while you’re browsing.

3. The Bookworm

34 Elm Street, East Aurora / Website

A beloved stop in East Aurora, The Bookworm makes it clear that they’re far more than just books. Unique gifts for almost anyone in your life can also be found here, from colorful art prints and local knick-knacks to crystals and beautifully-woven dreamcatchers. Plus, their special book-trade policy lets customers exchange gently used books for store credit towards other pre-read books in their current inventory. Come in with a book you no longer need and leave with a new one, just like that.

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4. Dog Ears Bookstore & Cafe

688 Abbott Rd, Buffalo / Website

Listen up, serial coffee shop dwellers: this South Buffalo gem might just be your new go-to. Dog Ears Bookstore & Cafe has been a community staple for years, and given their cozy, familiar feel and small-town friendliness, it’s clear why. After all, what’s better than reading a new book, getting some work done, or simply chatting with a friend over breakfast or homemade soup in a bread bowl?

5. Burning Books

 420 Connecticut St, Buffalo / Website

Through the years they’ve been open on Connecticut Street, Burning Books has proved to be far more than an average local bookstore. The shop’s collection of literature and media is all related to activism, politics, and social movements, while the storefront itself is frequently used for special events to engage the community. If the idea of catching a new documentary showing or picking up a book on “hexing the patriarchy” feels particularly exciting, this just might be the spot for you.

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6. Zawadi Books

1382 Jefferson Ave, Buffalo / Website

Zawadi Books is a bookstore that specializes in books and materials that are by and about people of African descent. The quaint shop holds author readings, book discussions, a Reading Room, and houses a storytelling resource center. Stop by to find your next book to cozy up to.

7. Book Corner

1801 Main St, Niagara Falls, NY 14305 / Facebook

Located in Niagara Falls, book Corner has a variety of books  and is the oldest independent bookstore in WNY. Can’t find a book? They allow their customers to make specialty orders and even do gift wrapping if you’re looking to share a book with a friend.

8. Turn the Page Bookstore

79 Main St A, Hamburg, NY 14075 / Facebook

Turn the Page Bookstore is a family-owned and operated bookstore located in the heart of the village of Hamburg. They sell used books making the opportunity to get a good book without a high price tag that much easier. The village of Hamburg also has lots to see so why not pick up a good read while you spend your next day around the area.

9. Fitz Books & Waffles

431 Ellicott Street, Buffalo / Website

Located next to Eat Off Art, FITZ Books sells both new and used books, with a focus on stories that “reveal hidden histories and motivate us to be agents of change”. They believe that a reading revolution is key to countering American fascism and white supremacy. Categories you’ll find here include music, art, poetry, theory, science/nature, mind/body/spirit, planning, hip-hop culture, and many more. You can also shop online at fitzbooks.net, plus they sell waffles at the shop – yum!

10. Alice, Ever After Books

295 Parkside Avenue, Buffalo / Website

Alice, Ever After Books is a woman-owned, children’s indie bookstore that celebrates children’s literature by “providing a curated collection of diverse, high quality children’s literature and toys that inspires curiosity and a sense of wonder.” Located in the Parkside Neighborhood near the Buffalo Zoo, they offer classes, events, and community events to inspire beyond the pages of a book.

11. Westside Stories 

Temporarily Closed

“Shop small, read big” is a very fitting phrase for the slightly smaller, but no less colorful space on Grant Street that’s home to Westside Stories. It’s a Buffalo favorite for bookworms on a budget, and FYI, all used books are marked an additional 10% off on Wednesdays. Browse their selection to uncover some old favorites or discover something new by opting for a “blind date with a book” curated by the shop’s staff- the choice is yours!

Did we miss one? Did one of these places close? Send us a note!

Editorial Submissions (Lite)
Include name of business / organization / addition, website, and address if possible.
Are you directly affiliated with this businesses? (Owner, Manager, Staff etc.) *
Sign up to receive our Step Out Buffalo Business email newsletter about marketing and business tips
Subscribe to Step Out Buffalo’s daily newsletter about the best things to do, places to go, eat and drink in Buffalo & WNY.

This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated.

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Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/emilymalowski/" target="_self">Emily Malkowski</a>

Written by Emily Malkowski

Based in Buffalo, Emily is a marketing professional by day, and a freelance writer by night. She is passionate about uncovering unique stories, and dreams of cross-country road trips, endless sunshine, and adopting multiple dogs.
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