Welcome to Corey's Indie Bookstore Travelogue!

Corey's Indie Bookstore Travelogue chronicles my experiences visiting independent bookstores. I share my own personal stories and travel experiences associated with each bookstore, and in the process, give readers a sense of what each bookstore has to offer.

You can browse my recent entries below, by archive in chronological order, or if you are looking for a particular store, through my label section where you find stores organized by their city of location.


Saturday, March 26, 2011


*** Picture Coming Soon! ***

When I first saw Bobzbay, I didn't realize that it was a bookstore! I knew from the store name that it focuses heavily on Internet sales and probably started as an Internet company before acquiring a store front. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Bobzbay, besides selling DVDs and music, is a bookseller. I first realized that fact when I saw the store owner at the library sale looking for books, where I also was searching for my new venture Mother Jones Books. But yesterday I visited the store and found it to be a very nice addition to the Bloomington-Normal downtown community.

Bobzbay already has a good collection of used literature, fiction and nonfiction, including some interesting local fare.  The store is very pleasant inside and the owner is very accommodating, taking requests from the community. I purchased a copy of Franz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth for my own store and almost purchased Chomsky's Rogue States. I was told by the person I assume is Bob that the store is undergoing a major expansion, opening up a whole huge section to customers. I'll definitely be back to see the new look!

419 N. Main Street
Bloomington, IL

Friday, August 6, 2010

Micawber's Bookstore

I didn't plan on visiting Macawber's when I was in Minneapolis/St. Paul this summer. It was on my list of stores to visit if I had the time, having skimmed the Indiebound website for any stores that I might have missed in the area when I lived in the Twin Cities. What brought me to the Saint Anthony Park neighborhood of Saint Paul, where this store is nestled in a leafy and laid-back neighborhood, is the the Finnish Bistro across the street where I met some friends for brunch (which, I have to add, has very tasty food; I had a very delicious omelet with lamb meat). After eating my friend and I took a little time to visit the store for about 15 minutes.

Macawber's is a very charming and respectable neighborhood bookstore. I liked that it is a small store, but even thought it was small, it has small real strengths. To the right as you enter, it houses a very large children's section, and scattered through the store one finds very good specialized sections on Minnesota (its history and culture), poetry, and cookbooks. It has bookstore traditional sections, fiction and nonfiction, making for a good browse. The staff in the store was extremely friendly, enthusiastically answering questions and chatting with customers. My friend was taken by a Big Lebowski kit (referring to the movie) and almost bought it after conversing with the staff person for awhile on the movie and its merits.

Micawber's has down-home charm and makes for a great bookstore visit after eating at the Finnish Bistro. 

2238 Carter Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108
(612) 646-5506

Friday, July 23, 2010

Common Good Books

Common Good Books is famous for being owned by Garrison Keillor. It is a pleasant store, specializing in new books, with a winding layout and cloistered reading areas. I haven't bought many books from the store, only because there are so many other well-deserving indie bookstores in the Twin Cities and I figured Keillor would do well with his liberal base in what feels like a gentrified, upper middle class neighborhood. That might be a little unfair characterizing it such, after all I always ended up in this neighborhood. There is a very nice coffee shop, Nina's, just above the store and I regularly met my colleagues just across the street at W.A. Frost, a very nice restaurant and bar. And, the headquarters of my old union, Saint Paul Federation of Teachers is in the same building as the bookstore, the Blair Arcade. Visiting the area, and the store, on this 2010 summer trip did bring back the memories.

Common Good Books
165 Western Avenue North
St. Paul, Minnesota, 55102

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Book Cellar

Located in Lincoln Square in Chicago, the Book Cellar is the sort of indie specializing in new books that I imagine would succeed here in Bloomington-Normal. I was having this discussion with a friend of mine, as we toured this store and the used bookstore Ravenswood just down the street, wondering how indie store can compete these days with the big boxes, the Barnes and Borders, and online e-readers. This store focuses on books, but also attracts customers with their paper and cards, as well as coffee.

Overall I was very impressed by Lincoln Square's bookstore selections overall. The Bookcellar contrasted perfectly with Ravenswood, offering customers two wildly different experiences in just a few blocks- the spacious new and modern that is Bookcellar vs. the ancient rambling maze of unexpected discoveries that is Ravenswood. And just across the street from the BookCellar is a fun store specializing in brain games and puzzles. Definitely worth a visit.

4736-38 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60625

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ravenswood Used Books

On the Saturday of our July 4th weekend excursion to Chicago, we walked around Lincoln Square a bit after viewing there the Spain-Paraguay game of the World Cup. We came across this quirky bookstore, its name not at all prominent in the store front, that reminded me of Paul's bookstore in Madison but much more intense. I've never seen a bookstore so crowded with books, a "Kafkaesque maze," as my friend who also visited the store put it. Narrow passageways wound around the store, oftentimes leading to small nooks and crannies and dead ends, with books sometimes hanging precariously above you on wooden planks. The store had quite a selection of obscure used books, making for a great way to distract oneself for hours. I bought a book of Mark Twain's lesser known non-fiction works, a somewhat dated history of Mexico in the 20th century, and a book entitled The Mind of the Dolphin. What a visit! With yesterday's find, and now this store, Chicago is proving to be quite the place for independent bookstores!

Ravenswood Used Books
4626 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-2071
(773) 593-9166

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tres Americas Books, Inc.

I happened to see Tres Americas as we drove into Chicago this past weekend and feel fortunate that I did! I have to say, this store is one of the most impressive I've visited in awhile. When I noticed the storefront, we were heading down Pulaski Street to meet friends at BadDog's Bar, for a beer and burger lunch. We found some time later that afternoon, before the Dale Watson concert, to head back and check the store out.

Tres Americas has an impressive collection of books in Spanish, including fiction, nonfiction, dictionaries and other useful reference books, and even books for children. It is the largest such bookstore I've seen so far in the states, with the old Resource Center of the Americas in Minneapolis (now out of business, I think) coming in as a close second. This is a store we'll continue to patronize, given its extensive collection of hard-to-find Spanish books. From what the owner told us, he'll even do orders through the mail.

I ended up buying a gigantic narrative biography of Pancho Villa by Paco Ignacio Taibo II and an anthology of literature. Tres Americas will be on our list of destinations every time we're in Chicago, I'm sure.

Tres Americas Books, Inc.
Libros en EspaƱol
4336 N. Pulaski Rd.
Chicago, IL 60641
Tel: 773-481-9090