Shop local: independent bookstores that go the extra mile

Books line the shelves at Charis Books and More in Atlanta’s Little Five Points community. The independent bookstore sells new and used books in a variety of topics. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Combined ShapeCaption
Books line the shelves at Charis Books and More in Atlanta’s Little Five Points community. The independent bookstore sells new and used books in a variety of topics. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

After the Amazon boom, many predicted that independent bookstores were relics, doomed to go out of business one by one. In reality, independent bookstores have flourished in many locations, growing 35 percent countrywide from 2009 to 2015, according to the American Booksellers Association. In and around Atlanta, several indie bookstores have entrenched themselves in the community, providing a reading experience that can’t be ordered online.

Charis Books & More

Located in a charming house in Little Five Points, Charis Books is one of the few feminist bookstores in the entire United States. The store opened in 1974 and specializes in feminist and LGBTQ+ literature, but also offers a wide selection of all kinds of books. The bookstore encourages social activism, particularly with its associated non-profit Charis Circle, which brings feminist programming and events to Atlanta.

Anna Muñoz (left) and Ariane McCullough (right) browse through a magazine at Charis Books and More in Atlanta’s Little Five Points community. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Inside the store, books line every wall, but the space is open and welcoming. Charis Books feels distinctly local, and it carries books from nearby authors. In line with its mission of being a community hub, Charis Books has a section devoted to free community resources for all ages. Community members gather often at the store for various events each month, including weekly yoga, listed on Charis’ website.

1189 Euclid Avenue NE. 404-524-0304,

A Cappella Books

Since 1989, this bookstore has offered a wide variety of literary wares. In its small, cozy shop in Inman Park, you’ll find new books at market prices as well as discounted, used books. A Cappella Books also stocks many antiquarian, collectible books and signed first editions.

Despite its small location, A Cappella Books has spread itself across Atlanta in other ways. The shop hosts author events across the city year-round and is active in its neighborhood, including a monthly fiction series at local pub The Wrecking Bar. The store offers seven different book clubs for members to meet up and discuss a new selection each month.

Like many other bookstores on this list, A Cappella Books has embraced the digital age, and its inventory can be browsed online.

208 Haralson Avenue NE. 404-681-5128,

Little Shop of Stories

As you would expect from a bookstore geared towards children, Little Shop of Stories exudes a fairytale atmosphere irresistible to both kids and adults. The Decatur Square store bills itself as “books for kids and the grown-ups they become,” and while most of the space is devoted to children’s literature, they also have a good selection of books for adults and teens.

Little Shop of Stories has a large collection of children’s literature, and its store is very child-friendly, including a room fashioned after “Goodnight Moon.”

Little Shop of Stories provides a diverse selection of book groups as well. Some are broken up into age groups for children, starting with 5-7 and going up to 10-12. The five book groups for adults range from graphic novels to poetry and wine meet-ups. The store tries to encourage reading across all ages in the Atlanta area, particularly with its “On The Same Page” program, a community-wide read of one book each year.

More than anything, Little Shop of Stories fosters a love of reading in children who might be drawn more towards an iPad or the TV. Families can host birthday parties at the store or send their children to their summer camps, which often fill up quickly, like “Camp Hogwarts” and a “Magic Tree House”-themed camp. Storytimes happen weekly at the store.

133A East Court Square. 404-373-6300,

Eagle Eye Book Shop

Near Emory University, this store offers 5,000 square feet of both used and new books. The large store includes every possible topic, with books divided by section and easily found through the signs that describe each aisle.

Eagle Eye Book Shop’s love of books is obvious with only a brief stroll through the store; the walls are decorated with book posters and t-shirts for novels like “Gone with the Wind” and “Pride and Prejudice.” The store hosts around 100 author events each year, including many book signings.

RELATED: Here's the books all Georgians should read

The bookshop’s prices are affordable since many of its used books only cost around $5. While the store looks unassuming from the outside of its location in a Decatur shopping center, its wide selection of well-priced books makes it a fantastic place to pick up a new read.

2076 North Decatur Road. 404-486-0307,

Avid Bookshop

While visiting this bookstore requires a trip to Athens, it’s well worth the visit. Avid has become a beloved part of the Athens community, and since its opening in 2011, the store was successful enough to open another location as well.

Both Avid Bookshop locations feel warm and friendly, and the stores are so well-organized that it’s easy to find whatever you may be looking for. And if you have no idea what you’re looking for, every section has handwritten notes by the staff scattered throughout that describe the books they’re currently recommending.

For those who can’t make it to one of their book clubs or the more than 200 events they hold each year, it’s still possible to experience Avid’s dedication to helping readers find the perfect new book. Avid offers a book subscription program in which readers can send in a survey of their reading likes and dislikes, then receive a book in the mail every month specifically chosen to suit their tastes by a store employee.

493 Prince Avenue or 1662 South Lumpkin Street. 706-352-2060/706-850-2843,

About the AJC Decatur Book Festival:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival (DBF) is the largest independent book festival in the country. Over Labor Day weekend, tens of thousands from metro Atlanta and beyond share the historic Decatur Square with world-class authors, illustrators, editors, publishers and booksellers for a weekend filled with literature, music, food and fun. For more information, visit, “like” Decatur Book Festival on Facebook or follow @DBookFestival on Twitter.

About the Author