There’s no better way to spend a free afternoon than browsing through the stacks of a bookstore. While the big chains do have their appeal, it’s the treasures you can find in an independent bookstore that makes them worth finding and exploring. From uncovering those small-press editions of your favorite classics, to picking up a unique gem you won’t find anywhere else, these 8 great bookstores in Missouri will help you find what you’re looking for.
For almost 20 years, Subterranean Books has been offering a variety of best sellers, cult classics, and small press editions. Always new, never used, these books are chosen by a small and knowledgeable staff of avid readers, who are always ready to accept a challenge and find that half-remembered title from some long-ago book review.
Located in old downtown Kansas City, Prospero’s Bookstore is exactly what you would imagine of bookstore named after Shakespeare’s mad sorcerer: Three levels of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, crammed with volumes of history, literature, art, architecture, mythology, and esoterica. Great for browsing.
Yellow Dog is a mom-and-pop bookstore, enriching this university town with author events, poetry readings, and children’s story time. The only independent bookshop in town, it aims to get real books into the hands of students and townies alike. Well worth the visit.
Established in 1989, and located on a strip of the original Route 66, ABC Books carries over 100,000 volumes of genre fiction, literature, theology, and history. With a friendly and knowledgeable staff, ABC Books is the perfect place to browse on a Saturday afternoon. The store also offers textbook rental—a real plus in a city with so many colleges and universities.
The Book Rack, Cape Girardeau’s locally owned, independent bookstore, has thousands of new and used titles—everything from high literature to Japanese manga, most in the $5 to $10 range. A small staff, up on the latest best sellers as well as the classics, makes The Book Rack a great place to find that perfect book.
Hooked on Books is warm, clean, and well-stocked little bookstore in Springfield, Missouri. In a town that has more than its per capita share of independent bookstores, Hooked on Books stands out as the best place to get both new titles and hard to find ones. It has a high quality and well-chosen representation of almost every genre you might be searching for.
Lexington, Missouri, is the site of an important Civil War battle, and that’s one of the pieces of the town’s character that defines River Reader. It specializes in history books, both in-demand titles and the rare and unusual, in addition to the thousands of other books it carries. It also features a coffee shop, live music several days a week, and locally made gifts and crafts.
On the outside, Rose’s looks like a tiny little barn, but the quaint red exterior leads to an expansive and well-organized interior that houses over a million books. Rose’s has been around for almost 40 years, and even sitting on the outskirts of St. Louis, it has become a destination for those who are serious about books, especially used and rare books. It’s one of the most important independent destinations in the Midwest for new authors giving signings.