These days, it’s all too easy to skip the “hassle” of in-person shopping and simply order your books from Amazon (or, to dispense with the paper copies altogether and read digital copies of your favorite books on a Kindle or iPad). But what online shopping can’t replicate is the personal nature of the bookstore experience— that is, unique selections of books put together by real human beings, help from book lovers who will steer you towards new and old favorites and the ability to leaf through potential picks before making your choice. Of course, you can find all of these things at an independently owned bookstore. If you’re looking to expand your mind through reading while supporting small businesses, making a trip to any of these shops is the way to do it!

Book Garden
868 Monmouth Rd., Cream Ridge

With over 100,000 used books covering a variety of topics, including a particularly well-stocked section on New Jersey history, everyone will find what they are looking for at this Cream Ridge destination. Your little ones will love the children’s section, and you may even see something you like in their selections of back-issue comic books and paper memorabilia. 

[words] Bookstore

179 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood

This award-winning bookstore offers a variety of books meant to engage readers of all ages with books catering to all kinds of different interests and passions, with a special focus on Jewish authors and literature. And in case that’s not enough of a reason to patronize the bookstore, [words] has also made it their mission to welcome both patrons and employees with autism— in fact, the store has already hired over 100 young people with autism as part of a special vocational training program. 

WORD Bookstores

123 Newark Ave, Jersey City

With locations in both Brooklyn and Jersey City as well as an online order/delivery service, it has never been easier to shop at WORD. The shops’ awesome staff members are there to make recommendations in their various areas of expertise, from comics and graphic novels to post-modern fiction or magical realism. Plus, WORDS’ book clubs, author events and a series of helpful book lists for those looking for a new favorite story mean that the store truly has something for everyone. 

Little City Books
100 Bloomfield Street, Hoboken New Jersey

Visit this Hoboken destination or place an online order here to be picked up (or delivered for a fee of $4). The Children’s Annex will ensure that your kids can find some great picture books while you’re busy browsing the historical fiction aisle. Sign up for the newsletter to learn about author events.

The Curious Reader
229 Rock Rd. Glen Rock

The Curious Reader is a unique children’s bookstore and the perfect place to get your little ones interested in reading. Customers are welcome to enjoy the store’s kid-friendly decor, complete with model trains and stuffed animals, as they browse for titles spanning a wide variety of reading levels. In-store shoppers can ask staff members for recommendations, and those who prefer to shop online can fill out a form to receive suggestions virtually as well. Another perk? Free book delivery of orders over $50 to Glen Rock, Ridgewood and Fair Lawn.

Inkwood Books

106 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield

Inkwood Books was born when the only bookstore in Haddonfield closed down and Julie Beddingfield— whose sister already owned the original Inkwood Books, located in Tampa, Florida— was inspired to open a sister store. Now, Inkwood is a community staple. Inside the store, booksellers are always willing to provide recommendations and answer questions; Inkwood also provides special discounts for book clubs, hosts events for independent authors and provides a variety of resources for educators.


Nelson Rare Books


Find the perfect first edition to add to your collection at this Haddonfield dealer, which specializes in 18th and 19th century British and American literature, Gothic Revival, architecture books, and private press books. For those intrigued by rarity and obscurity, Nelson’s focuses especially on titles that are unpopular or otherwise unknown. 


171 Main St Manasquan

This Manasquan spot— which has adopted the slogan “good friends meet good books”— offers both modern and classic literature for readers of all ages, as well as events with authors and audiobook “playlists” curated by booksellers and influencers. If you are ever at a loss as to what to read next, make sure to check out the store’s staff recommendations, which can be found on the website— better yet, join BookTIDE, the store’s subscription book service, and receive one staff-selected paperback at your door each month.


River Road Books

759 River Road, Fair Haven

Special features of this Fair Haven spot include a children’s section with hand-selected books for babies and teenagers alike— including, of course, both new finds and irreplaceable classics— as well as author events that will bring you face-to-face with the very artists, poets and writers whose work the store has to offer. 

The Cloak & Dagger

349 Nassau St, Princeton

Located only a short walk away from Princeton University, The Cloak & Dagger is located inside of a colonial revival home that has been renovated to reflect an English-style library. In fact, merely stepping inside the store is like stepping into the pages of an Agatha Christie novel! But the homage to all things mysterious doesn’t end with decor: the bookshop is stocked mostly with paperbacks covering all mystery genres, as well as videos, puzzles and games all related to mysteries. 

Labyrinth Books

122 Nassau Street, Princeton

Buy online or in-store from Labyrinth Books, the official bookstore for Princeton University. Though the store specializes in academic books for scholars, you can also find bestsellers and books for common readers in a variety of genres, as well as books specifically for kids, special editions of your favorite titles, gifts, and apparel. The Labyrinth’s inventory is constantly changing, and sales/discounts are offered daily for most books. A schedule packed with book signings and author events makes this bookshop the place to be. Plus, at the Labyrinth Underground (located one floor below the main shop), you can find rare/antiquarian books, new and used cookbooks, discounted Princeton and Yale University Press titles, and art books. 

The Little Point Bookshop

629 Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant

Little Point Bookshop’s carefully curated selection of books will ensure that, no matter your interests or mood, there will be something that strikes your fancy. If you’re looking for something specific, you can always call in advance to see whether it is currently in stock— if not, the store’s booksellers will be sure to order it for you.

Act 2 Books

24 Central Ave, Flemington

Pick up a used copy of Pride and Prejudice for your daughter or buy a rare copy of the same novel for your own collection at Act 2, where rare, out of print, and used books are all available for sale in categories (over 100 of them) ranging from Astronomy & Space to Asian History. Basically, if what you’re looking for is hard to find, then this Central Jersey bookstore is the place to go— the shop specializes in titles/editions that might escape the average person, and staff members will even search other bookstores if they cannot find a book within their own inventory.


PBX Books

703 1/2  9th Ave, Belmar

Formerly known as the Paperback Exchange, PBX offers used nonfiction and fiction selections in genres ranging from science fiction to spirituality, as well as new books by local authors and some more valuable copies for those looking to build their book collections. Given its ever-shifting inventory, guests are in for a surprise each time they walk through the door!


Bookends Bookstore

211 East Ridgewood Ave., Ridgewood

With lots of events featuring famous writers like Michael Kay and Christina Baker Kline and both signed books and memorabilia on offer, there is always something to get excited about at Bookends. 

The Bear and the Books

45 West Broad Street, Hopewell

While The Bear and the Books specializes in selections for kids, the store’s booksellers are certainly willing to order books for clientele of all ages.

Booktrader of Hamilton

2421 Nottingham Way, Hamilton

Sell your old books for store credit, which you can then use to buy paperbacks, hardcovers, audiobooks, bookmarks and other book-related paraphernalia at discounted prices. 

Book Garden

28 Bridge St., Frenchtown

This Frenchtown bookstore offers more than just paperbacks and hardcovers— customers can sign up for book clubs, writing workshops and fundraising events. The Garden’s website describes its selection as an “eclectic mix of new and previously loved books” perfect for readers young and old.


Sun Rose Words and Music

756 Asbury Ave., Ocean City

Setting out to maintain a soothing atmosphere, this shop leans into its old-fashioned flair with its retro decor while still carrying the newest, trendiest bestsellers on the market. Take advantage of Sun Rose’s individualized customer service while browsing around for children’s books, classics, or even computer and art supplies! The shop also carries puzzles, games, and stationery, so it’s basically a one-stop-shop for hassle-free gift shopping.


Bookateria Two

1052 Asbury Ave., Ocean City

This Ocean City bookshop has been a prime destination for used books since 1976, though it also offers new books for sale and trade. In fact, you can bring in your own used paperback books and trade them in for any of Bookateria’s 25,000 paperbacks.


The Town Book Store

270 E Broad St, Westfield

This Westfield institution is now in its 90th year of operation and offers special services such as fast turnaround on special orders, author signings, searches for out-of-print books, discounts for book clubs, free gift wrapping and more. The store’s staff will be able to answer any questions you have and share their staff picks.

LBI Book Swap

325 Ninth Street, Beach Haven

Customers can trade in their used titles for teen and children’s books, audiobooks, used books, and even New York Times bestsellers— the discounts are certainly a perk. Even better than the discounts, though, are the Book Swap’s author events, which feature prominent writers such as David Baldacci and Douglas Brunt. 

Watchung Booksellers

54 Fairfield St., Watchung Plaza, Montclair

This vibrant, independent community bookstore located in the heart of Montclair carries a fine collection of literary fiction, biography/memoir and history, with strong sections of travel, education, poetry and the arts. Their children’s room is a picture book space for all ages – from the smallest reader sitting on a parent’s lap to the happening Teen Corner.


Montclair Book Center

221 Glenridge Ave, Montclair

Don’t ever worry that you won’t find anything to read at the Montclair Book Center, one of New Jersey’s largest new and used bookstore: with over 9,000 square feet of stocked shelves and new shipments coming in twice a week, the center’s selection of books is large and ever-shifting. Plus, most books are discounted, and used books are available, so there is truly something for everyone, regardless of budget— MBC even sells CDs and records for those who are more auditorily inclined.

Here’s the Story

1043 Stuyvesant Avenue, Union

Here’s the Story is known for its inviting atmosphere, friendly ownership, and one-on-one customer service. The store, which carries both children’s books and a wide variety of bestsellers, also takes care to work with the Union Township School System in providing summer reading books and titles required by teachers. If you don’t see what you’re looking for on the shelf, just ask for a special order!


The Little BOHO Bookshop

164a Broadway, Bayonne

This indie bookstore fashions itself as a “cozy getaway spot” with a focus on providing titles for kids, pre-teens, and young adults as part of owner Sandra Dear’s goal of promoting early literacy. However, the bookshop also carries current bestsellers, so you can certainly pick up a new psychological thriller or beach read while your teen tries to decide between The Song of Achilles and Red, White & Royal Blue. 




Symposia Bookstore and Community Center

510 Washington St, Hoboken

Symposia is more than just a place to buy books. It is also a nonprofit corporation and was created for charitable and educational purposes. Among the center’s many charitable enterprises is its thrift shop, where you can buy used books; in fact, Symposia is the only nonprofit used bookseller in Hoboken. 



Asbury Park Cooperative

623 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park

The Asbury Park Cooperative began as words!, an independent bookstore that also hosted book clubs, readings, signings, and other events. Now, this democratically run business strives to promote racial and social justice and support local artists while contributing to the greater Asbury Park community with programs that provide cultural, literary, and intellectual value. The ABC carries a unique variety of books (both new and used) and products; become a member, and you will receive benefits and discounts, not to mention a role in the cooperative’s decision-making process. Plus, check out the ABC’s various inclusive book clubs.



The Bookworm

99 Claremont Rd., Bernardsville

Looking for a gift? If the staff gift recommendations aren’t helpful enough, you are sure to find something special among the store’s selections of bestsellers, young adult novels, books for younger kids, journals, puzzles, apparel, and stuffed animals.


Second Time Books

114 Creek Rd, Mount Laurel

Though Second Time Books specializes in science-fiction/fantasy and history books, the shop’s over 60,000 used titles— all of them hand-cleaned and covered, with new inventory coming in daily— cover topics from music to philosophy and religion. You can even sell your especially well-kept narrative history, fantasy books, or classics for store credit/cash.


Princeton Antiques & Book Service

2917 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City

Fashioning themselves as “bookfinding librarians,” the booksellers at Princeton Antiques can assist customers with any book-related queries, including both purchases and sale. Plus, you can always browse the online shop to find that one perfect title— that is, if you wouldn’t rather peruse open-air shelves lining the storefront.

Ida’s Bookshop

734 Haddon Ave., Collingswood

Named after Ida B. Wells, a journalist and activist who organized civic societies through her words, this bookshop celebrates female authors, women artists and women activists.

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