Vancouver’s Best Independent Book Stores
Written by Ania Dani
Your new favourite read is waiting to be discovered at one of Vancouver’s best independent book stores. With knowledgeable staff eager to offer recommendations and eclectic collections, independent book shops are where you’ll find titles from small local presses, new author voices, and unique finds to keep you engaged, informed, and entertained as the weather turns chilly.
Because on a rainy fall day, there’s nothing better than curling up in a cozy blanket with a latte and a good book.
Here’s are 7 of Vancouver writer, Ania Dani’s favourite independent book stores for book browsing as a rainy day activity in Vancouver.
Books pile from floor to ceiling—on shelves, on windowsills, on tables, and in boxes—at this antiquarian bookshop full of old-school charm. This is the type of store that you can imagine harbouring a secret passage to a magical universe or a concealed door into a tomb raider’s research office. MacLeod’s has been in its current location since 1982 (the previous location burned down in a fire). This is the perfect shop to visit if you’re looking for used rare books or if you have no idea what you’re looking for, since you’re likely to find a treasure that you didn’t even know you needed.
Upstart & Crow
Upstart & Crow is a recent addition to Vancouver’s independent book store scene. It has a contemporary West Coast feel with books artfully displayed by themes on wood shelves and on tables. The shop focuses on new books from small and independent presses, and titles from local and international emerging authors, because “life is too short to read the same thing as everyone else.” It’s a great place to discover new voices makings waves. Plus, you can stock up on candles, stationary, and other gifts for bibliophiles, and even book a private book shopping day for a small group.
The Paper Hound Bookshop
With a cozy feel and an eclectic selection of new, used, and rare books, this shop is made for a day of book browsing. Inside you’ll find that new book club novel, that philosophy title your roommate from uni was always paraphrasing, and a book on mountain goats for your weird uncle. This is the kind of bookshop that is a perfect setting for a romantic comedy meet-cute. During the pandemic, the Paper Hound Bookshop also began to offer book-delivery, so you can get your book fix and support your local independent bookstore, without ever getting out of bed.
Nestled in Chinatown, this shop is 100% Indigenous and female-owned and operated. Shelving of pine and pipe rise to the ceiling of the narrow two-storey space. Inside you’ll find new, used, and rare books of all genres, including a large collection of Indigenous books. The loft-style upstairs holds exhibitions and events (as does newly opened sister space Massey Arts); and downstairs, is a real secret bookshelf door that leads to the rare books room. Massy Books is equally about books, art, and community activism, striving to be an agora for social change—a must-visit for a day of book browsing, art viewing, and conversation.
Iron Dog Books
With a brick-and-mortar store front as well as a mobile book truck, this Indigenous-owned shop strives to make books accessible and affordable to everyone. Iron Dog Books focuses mainly on new backlist and remaindered books, which publishers are liquidating, and used books acquired through its book trade-in program. There’s something for the whole family in the welcoming space, from sci-fi, romance, graphic novels, political books, and titles by Indigenous authors. Look for the signature book truck at events around town and stop in to pick up your next read.
Pulp Fiction Books
A Vancouver independent book store staple for over 20 years, all three locations at Pulp Fiction focus exclusively on selling books; there are no candles or other paraphernalia here. Inside, bright coloured walls peek out behind tall utilitarian shelves and tables stacked high with piles of books of all genres. With both new and second-hand titles and knowledgeable staff, you’re sure to find the perfect book (or five) to take home.
This iconic independent children’s bookshop is a must visit for kids of all ages. Kidsbooks has been operating for over 30 years, although the current locations are more recent. Inside new children’s books are arranged by age group on wooden shelves under colourful chandeliers. There are also puzzles and colouring books in an activity area. Bring your little ones and get them hooked on reading!
Bored in Vancouver Rainy Day Activities
Looking for more things to do on a rainy day in Vancouver? Check out our other articles in Bored in Vancouver: Rainy Day Activities