Ultimate Guide to Buffalo’s Independent Bookstores

Books, City Guide, Culture & Arts


Written by Emily Malkowski

Published on December 31, 2019
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? Email us at!



1. Talking Leaves Bookstore

 951 Elmwood Ave /  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.


2. The Rust Belt Bookstore

415 Grant Street / 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. Westside Stories 

205 Grant Street / Website

“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!



4. The Bookworm

34 Elm Street in 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.

5. Dog Ears Bookstore & Cafe

688 Abbott Rd in South 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?

6. Burning Books

 420 Connecticut St / 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.




7. Second Reader Bookshop

1421 Hertel Ave / Facebook

Located across the street from North Buffalo’s historic North Park Theatre, Second Reader Bookshop is a must visit when on Hertel. Their shop is home to one of Buffalo’s largest collections of used books, with a constantly changing inventory that ranges from “the quirky to the literary.” Support a local business while shopping sustainably- it’s a win win for sure.


8. Zawadi Books

1382 Jefferson Ave, Buffalo, NY 14208 / Facebook

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.


9. Book Corner

1801 Main St, Niagara Falls, NY 14305 / Website

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.


10. 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.

Did we miss one? Email us at!

Written by <a href="" 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.
Find More ➭

Similar Articles You'll Love...

Best Things to Do This Weekend

Best Things to Do This Weekend

Check out Silo City by boat with Buffalo River History Tours. Photo by Mike Ciancio Best Things To Do This Weekend in Buffalo July 30 - Aug 1: Here are the best things to do this week in Buffalo, Western New York, and the Niagara Frontier as chosen by Step Out...

Best Things to Do This Week

Best Things to Do This Week

Check out 11 days of  Buffalo Infringement Festival Things To Do This Week in Buffalo & Niagara July 26 - Aug 1: Here are THE things to do this week in Buffalo, Western New York, and the Niagara Frontier. This list includes the best things to do including live...

7 Waterfalls Worth Chasing in WNY

7 Waterfalls Worth Chasing in WNY

Glen Falls / Photo by Patrick Koster Waterfalls are a front row seat to watching Mother Nature paint her masterpiece. Looking at a waterfall is like observing a work of art constantly changing. With every rush of water plunging over the ledge comes a new image. Every...


Forgotten Password?