Pittsburgh/ Retail & Industry
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Published on July 30, 2018
Pittsburgh's top 5 bookstores to visit nowWhite Whale Bookstore. | Photo: Jonathan H./Yelp

Looking to check out the top bookstores around?

Hoodline crunched the numbers to find the top bookstores in Pittsburgh, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of the best spots to venture next time you're in the mood for a good read.

1. Kards Unlimited

Photo: Kate W./Yelp

Topping the list is Kards Unlimited, a family-owned store that has been in business since 1968. Located at 5522 Walnut St. in Shadyside, the gift shop and bookstore, which offers cards, stationery and more, is the highest rated bookstore in Pittsburgh, boasting 4.5 stars out of 49 reviews on Yelp. 

Visit its website to view the many reading lists, from memoirs by funny people to humorous retellings of classics. 

"I love this store. It's so great for a last-minute gift idea," Yelper Jen C. said. "There are so many unique and funny items. It's also got a great selection of books."

2. White Whale Bookstore

Photo: white whale bookstore/Yelp

Next up is Bloomfield's White Whale Bookstore, situated at 4754 Liberty Ave. With five stars out of 18 reviews on Yelp, the shop has proven to be a local favorite.

This independent storefront features an assortment of new and used books including genres like contemporary and literary fiction, history and philosophy, plus a selection of poetry and more. The establishment also hosts events like story time with select authors, book signings and poetry readings. 

3. The Big Idea Bookstore and Cafe

Photo: larissa g./Yelp

Bloomfield's The Big Idea Bookstore and Cafe, located at 4812 Liberty Ave., is another top choice, with Yelpers giving the hangout and retail space 4.5 stars out of 21 reviews.

While in the cafe, look for house-roasted coffee, an assortment of teas, sodas, black-bean burritos, oatmeal, soup, gluten-free doughnuts, vegan chocolate bars, ginger chews and chips.

The Big Idea offers a library system to customers and lets those who join check out one book at a time for three weeks with two renewals. Books are primarily "hard-to-find radical and progressive literature," per the store's website. 

4. Caliban Book Shop

Photo: caliban book shop/Yelp

Caliban Book Shop offering vinyl records and more in North Oakland, is another go-to, with four stars out of 32 Yelp reviews. Head over to 410 S. Craig St. to see for yourself.

This bookstore appraises books, autographs, original art, photographs and printed material. The shop buys and sells audio recordings, fiction, poetry, non-fiction and scholarly material in a number of different fields as well as boasts a collection of rare books dating back to the 16th century. 

5. Amazing Books & Records

Photo: amazing books and records/Yelp

And last but not least is Amazing Books & Records over in the Cultural District, which has earned four stars out of 15 reviews on Yelp. You can find the bookstore, which offers vinyl records and more, at 929 Liberty Ave. It has a second store in Squirrel Hill.

"A really friendly and knowledgeable staff plus a good inventory of fascinating books," Yelper David B. said. "I think everyone could find at least one book they want to leave with. ... It's nice to have an independent bookstore downtown with a good inventory, and it's very cool that they are open on Sundays."