Ann Arbor Independent Bookstores

Ann Arbor is home to an incredible number of independent bookstores. From comics to antiques, this city has it all.

Literary bookstore


Instagram: @literatibookstore

Since opening in 2013, Literati has grown into an extremely popular bookstore with students and members of the community. It offers a wide selection of well-known and recently published fiction and poetry books on its main floor; in the basement, visitors will find collections on history, science, religion, sociology, social justice and more, while the second floor houses bargain books and a children’s section. Located just a few blocks from campus, Literati is a favorite haunt for many students for recently published novels and occasional readings, as well as books required for some humanities and social studies courses. Literati also hosts a series of author speakers and a book club, which currently remain virtual even though their storefront has reopened for browsing.

The dawn ferryman’s bookstore


Instagram: @dawntreaderbooks

Dawn Treader is a beloved eclectic second-hand bookstore that has been located just one block from campus for almost fifty years. Able to accommodate over 70,000 titles in a single store, the space is full of tight shelves that create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. You could spend an entire day at Dawn Treader, discovering new and old. With books ranging from $ 0.50 to thousands of dollars and covering a whole world of topics, Dawn Treader is a favorite among casual readers and academics. Director Africa Schaumann says that’s the “best part” of Dawn Treader – the number and diversity of people who “bring their passions with them” into the store. Fans of fantasy and sci-fi will be especially delighted with Dawn Treader’s vast collections on these genres, and history buffs will love the rare manuscripts on display. As Schaumann (rightly) puts it: “People need books… I think the experience of holding a book, of reading a book, of smelling a book – it all really does something for the human mind. which is not fully explainable but which is certainly necessary. “

Midnight Vault


Instagram: @vaultofmidnight

Located in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, Vault of Midnight is an incredibly fun store filled with comics, action figures, and other related items. The staff are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what they are selling, and they are equally friendly with comic book fans and newbies alike. In addition to allowing regular browsing, Vault of Midnight also offers a Book of the Month subscription service that sends subscribers a discounted copy of the staff’s favorite book that month, and it hosts a comic book convention in online in July. As Vault of Midnight nears its 25th anniversary and relaunches operations after a difficult year of pandemic, its owner, Curtis Sullivan, is optimistic about the future: “I think (brick-and-mortar bookstores ) are extremely vital, and I’m so confident in a good local business’s ability to stay. Sullivan, from Ann Arbor, is “thrilled” to operate this bookstore in his hometown, a place where “the university, a vibrant local community and so many visitors from around the world” are located. This enthusiasm is evident in all of Vault of Midnight’s operations.

West Side Bookstore


When West Side Book Shop opened in 1975, only a quarter of its room was filled with books. Today, rare and used books are crammed into shelves and stacked in three different rooms. Stepping inside feels like stepping into the past, and book lovers will feel right at home in the welcoming environment that the owner, Jay Platt, has cultivated. Platt, an antique bookseller, has built an impressive collection and has spent 45 years bringing his passion for history to our modern campus. Students interested in rare and antique books or the book trade can look forward to the annual West Side Antique Book Fair in October, which has been held in the Michigan Union since 1976. Asked about the future, Jay says, “I feel like” I’ve been an important part of the community… I still love her here. I’m not going to retire anytime soon.

Mad Wisdom Bookstore


Instagram: @crazywisdombookstore

Crazy Wisdom aims to serve “people seeking a deeper life – from spiritual development to inner peace to alternative health practices,” according to its CEO, Sarah Newland. This focus lends itself to many different book genres: anthropology, racial justice, self-healing and self-help, memory, history, religion and more. Although based on spirituality, even those who do not consider themselves spiritual or adhere to a specific religion can find something beneficial (or at least interesting) here. And, as Newland says, visiting Crazy Wisdom is “an experience of peace, quiet,” created by its calm atmosphere and friendly staff. For those looking to take some home, Crazy Wisdom also sells incense, candles, art, jewelry, aromatherapy, yoga supplies, tarot cards, tea and more. .

Motte & Bailey bookstores


Motte & Bailey is a rare and second-hand bookstore with over 10,000 titles in its collection. Although it focuses on American and European history, children’s books, books on books and scholarly titles, Motte & Bailey’s shelves are stocked with books on every subject. Especially for students interested in history, Motte & Bailey is a wonderful place to browse, both online and in person. Staff members are well versed in their own historical specialties and Motte & Bailey books are available for purchase; they are both willing and able to give useful recommendations and advice to visitors.

Nicolas’s books


Instagram: @nicolasbooks

Nicola’s Books is well worth the 25 minute bus ride it takes to get there. A large space filled with exhibits, this bookstore is a haven for anyone looking for new versions or popular fiction. It’s also home to a wide variety of other genres and a significant selection of freebies, from Studio Ghibli trinkets to games and stationery. Additionally, Nicola’s Books website has an extensive catalog of books that are not on their shelves, but that they can order for you quickly. Overall, this is a great independent bookstore for those looking for a wide selection comparable to many bookstore chains. It also hosts frequent author conferences and serves, in non-pandemic times, as a community event space.

Garrett Scott, bookseller


Garrett Scott has been operating as a specialist in rare printed and manuscript materials since 1998, working alongside librarians and curators to develop collections on “American social thought, folk medicine, unpopular literature, eccentric entertainment, religious material interesting, the prints of American and foreign authors from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Rather than having a showcase for browsing, Garrett Scott sells rare books (ranging in price from $ 8 to $ 5,000) through his website, catalogs, book fairs, and direct buyer inquiries. While not your typical bookstore for everyday reading material, Garrett Scott can be a good resource for academic research and passion projects.

Notre-Dame de Grâce Bookstore


Our Lady of Grace Bookstore is a Catholic bookstore that aims to serve the Catholic community of Ann Arbor. It sells traditional and current Catholic books (including missals and study books), gifts, artwork, CDs, films, religious props, and Bibles. It also supports Catholic faith groups, Catholic education and other community programs.

Honorable mention: Black Stone Bookstore and Cultural Center


Instagram: @blackstonebookstore

Black Stone Bookstore & Cultural Center, while technically not in Ann Arbor, also deserves a spot on this list. Located in the nearby town of Ypsilanti, Black Stone aims to “bring true African American literature and culture to the fore” and create a space in which “journalists, writers, professors, students and true aficionados of African American literature and culture will find a stain of solace in the heart. To this end, Black Stone hosts a variety of community events, including author readings, book clubs, poetry nights, and children’s storytelling hours. And in addition to African American literature, Black Stone also sells clothing, oils, incense, jewelry, beauty products, and more.

Daily Arts writer Brenna Goss can be contacted to

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