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Hannah Park (left), Zander Gore and Bella Gore browse the selection of Maxwell's House of Books in La Mesa.
Hannah Park (left), Zander Gore and Bella Gore browse the selection of Maxwell’s House of Books in La Mesa for Shop Small Saturday on Nov. 28, 2020.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Your guide to independent bookstores in San Diego County

Attention all local readers: Indie Bookstore Day is Saturday, April 24!

Whether you’re a lifelong book lover or rediscovered a love of reading in quarantine, now is a great time to add to your collection with a few titles from an independent bookstore in San Diego County.

Although a long list of local bookstores have closed over the last few decades, there are still many independent shops throughout the county that you can support on Indie Bookstore Day — and every other day of the year.

Due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, be sure to contact the bookstore for updated hours and operations prior to visiting. Note that some of the San Diego shops are only open for online shopping.

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La Playa Books

Point Loma
Specializing in used and rare books, La Playa Books opened its doors in 2016. The Point Loma shop, which also carries new titles, is run by a family who has called San Diego home since 1886.
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The Book Catapult

South Park
Founded by husband/wife duo Seth Marko and Jennifer Powell in 2017, The Book Catapult opened up shop at the location which previously housed West Grove Collective. This South Park general bookstore’s selection features fiction, local interest and children’s books, among other genres.
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Verbatim Books

North Park
Buy, sell or trade titles at Verbatim Books, a dog-friendly bookstore in the heart of North Park that opened in 2015. The curated shop focuses on used and rare books, along with works from local authors and zine/chapbook creators.
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Bluestocking Books

For more than 50 years, Bluestocking Books has sold used and antiquarian books, some of which experienced very short print runs. The Hillcrest shop also carries a few new titles.
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Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore

Point Loma
Since the ‘90s, Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore has carried a large selection of titles in the fantasy, science fiction, mystery and horror genres, for both young adults and older readers.
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La Jolla
One of the country’s oldest bookstores is located in La Jolla Village, where the family-owned and operated business has been since 1896. The coastal shop carries books in a variety of genres, as well as stationary, gifts, and art and office supplies.
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DIESEL, A Bookstore in Del Mar

Carmel Valley
Five years after Barnes & Noble shuttered, DIESEL, a Bookstore brought books back to Carmel Valley in 2019. The shop, which also runs a location in Brentwood, offers a variety of genres, staff recommendations and customized book bundles.
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Run for Cover Bookstore

Ocean Beach
With a wide selection of fiction, nonfiction, children’s books and young adult books, Run for Cover Bookstore aims to encourage reading for all San Diegans. The Ocean Beach shop also sells memberships to its RFC Book Lovers’ Club, which offers customers two exclusive, handpicked books per month.
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Footnote Books

For nearly three decades, Footnote Books has been buying and selling books in the Hillcrest neighborhood. Run by owner Troy Beaver, the small shop carries books in a wide variety of subjects, from social sciences to graphic novels to poetry.
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Lhooq Books

This unique spot in Carlsbad, which serves as a “nonprofit, underground artist and activist venue” and coffee shop, is also an eclectic vintage bookstore. The exrealism bookstore carries more than 50,000 new and used books, including many rarities.
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Bay Books

This 30-year-old shop in Coronado carries a wide variety of titles from new releases to timeless classics, along with a large military history section. According to its website, Bay Books is the largest, general independent bookstore in San Diego County.
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Maxwell's House of Books

La Mesa & Mount Helix
Maxwell’s House of Books has been a mainstay of La Mesa Village since 2003. Owned by Craig Maxwell, the general bookstore’s used books selection covers a variety of genres, specializing in academic and scholarly material.
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Sandcastle Tales Del Mar

Del Mar
This North County bookstore, located on the ocean view level of Del Mar Plaza, aims to foster imagination and creativity for kids. In addition to selling books, gifts and toys, the shop also offers the “Story Time Experience” — a recurring children’s event that brings literary stories to life with music, crafts and other activities.
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