Our Guide to the Best Local, Independent, and Used Bookstores in St. Paul

best bookstores in st paul

Earlier this week we published our picks for the best local, independent, and used bookstores in Minneapolis.

Today, we’re keeping the trend alive with a St. Paul edition.

Just like before, I’ll stand by my previous statements that there’s just something about walking into a real book store, putting your hands on physical books, and taking it all in. In the age of Amazon, supporting these shops is more important than ever.

So just like before, I’ll be focusing on those independent, locally owned book stores that support the St. Paul community.

And while St. Paul definitely doesn’t have as many book shops as Minneapolis, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still gems to be found!

Here are my six favorite:

Map of the Best Bookstores in St. Paul

St. Paul’s Oldest Independent Bookstore with the Best Selection of Used Books: Midway Used & Rare Books

midway books university avenue west - st paul mn

This big location on University Ave looks like it takes up nearly a whole city block, and the selection inside will make you think it does.

Simply put, this shop is everything you look for in a used book store. It’s got the old, creaky floors. It’s got that classic dusty, ancient book smell. But most importantly, it’s a staple of the neighborhood with a fantastic selection of books.

Everything from old paperback bestsellers to rare ancient hardcovers, it’s all covered in the three separate floors of books to be found here. (This place is so cool that we published an entire photo tour.)

Don’t forget to check out the bargain basement!

The New Challenger: Storied Owl Books

Despite being one of the newest bookstores, this quaint cornershop near the Mac-Groveland neighborhood is a bookstore that transports you back to the last great book you read.

From the comfortable layout to the cozy reading nooks, this bookstore has it all. There’s even storytime on weekend for the kids.

St. Paul’s Most Popular Independent Bookstore: Next Chapter Booksellers

next chapter booksellers st paul

Formerly known as Common Good Books, Next Chapter Booksellers is the fitting new name of this bookstore with a recently replaced owner but all of the same employees.

No matter what it’s called, this small space packs a serious punch in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Highland Park.

For one, it’s one of the most beautiful bookstores in the area. Wood flooring, high ceilings, and stunning tin ceilings set the mood. There’s multiple couches for hanging out or sampling the goods. And of course, a large area that’s frequently the spot for local author events.

Definitely a must visit for any local book fan.

Best Bookstore in Downtown St. Paul: Subtext Books

Surprisingly, Subtext Books is the only bookstore in Downtown St. Paul. Luckily though, it’s a great one.

From extremely helpful stuff to a wonderfully curated collection of books, this bookstore has everything you need in an independent, community based shop shop.

Best Children’s Bookstore: Red Balloon Bookshop

red balloon childrens bookstore

For the young reader, Red Balloon Bookshop must be a dream come true. The Grand Avenue location is a cozy space, complete with plenty of kid friendly decorations. Not to mention, the Twin Cities’ best selection of children’s and young adult books!

I especially love the slightly raised corner stage, which often serves as a spot for groups of kids listening enthusiastically to story-time, crossed-legs and all.

Red Balloon is the perfect place to spark an interest in young readers, and it’s exactly the type of bookstore we need to preserve for the next generation of book worms.

What about Half Price Books in St. Paul?

Half Price Books doesn’t exactly fit the “local, independent bookseller” criteria. That said, the chain remains family owned. And the location in St. Paul’s Highland Park area, on the corner of Cleveland Ave and Ford Parkway, is one of the biggest mainstays in the St. Paul book scene.

What’s more, I’d also argue that with its strong selection and quaint vibe, it’s definitely the best Half Price Books of all the locations around the Twin Cities. Being the best is just how we do it in St. Paul! 🙂

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