While many of us pick up a book to keep us busy at the airport, or a vacation novel when we’re dashing/slowly ambling around Target, there’s really nothing like browsing at a good bookstore.
Though there are some reliable chain bookshops around San Antonio—like Barnes and Noble and Half Price Books—there are also a whole host of truly excellent, independently-owned stores that are much better suited to satisfying your craving for the printed word.
From books old and new, to obscure titles, themed books, kids’ books, and more, I’ve put together the ultimate list of the Alamo City’s bookstores for you to explore.
1. The Twig
The Twig is one of San Antonio’s oldest (and certainly most well-loved) bookshops and has been serving the city’s readers since 1972. Its name comes from a quote by English poet, translator, and satirist Alexander Pope: “‘Tis education forms the common mind; just as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined.”
Currently located at the Pearl on the Museum Reach area of the River Walk, The Twig is a wonderful, vibrant shop with a large selection of newly-released titles for adults and children, as well as award-winning classics. Their Texana collection features a whole host of titles on the history and culture of San Antonio, its surrounding areas, and the state of Texas; making it a destination for history lovers living in, or visiting, the city.
As well as a bustling store, The Twig has become a venue for local and national authors and poets. Information about visiting authors, readings, and book signings can be found on their website, which is continually updated (as is their online bookstore, an excellent resource for those outside of San Antonio). For locals, The Twig makes books available for book clubs, schools, and conferences; as well as hosting a free storytime for kids of all ages on Friday mornings at 10:30 a.m.
The Twig is open daily from 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
As a book historian and all-around book lover, Cheever Books is the San Antonio store that has my heart. Located on Broadway, across the street from Brackenridge Park and the zoo, Cheever Books has offered an eclectic selection of rare and used books since 1986.
Named after John Cheever, a prolific writer of novels and short stories in twentieth-century America, this book shop has a magical ambiance and an incredible selection of books of all kinds. The team at Cheever Books is happy to help you find (or source) a specific title, but to me, this is the kind of bookstore you go to when you want to lose yourself in browsing. You don’t have to know what you’re looking for, the shelves will help you find the perfect title.
For book collectors, Cheever is the ultimate San Antonio store. Their selection of out-of-print titles and first editions cannot be matched! Open Wednesday–Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Located in the Oak Hills Center at Medical Dr. and Fredericksburg Rd., Nine Lives is a used book store with a huge selection of books, records, DVDs, magazines, and more. In an age of next-day delivery and throwaway, one-time reads, Nine Lives Books is committed to giving items a new life.
Nine Lives Books is definitely the place to go if you’ve got a little time on your hands. While their former location may have been much larger, they have managed to keep a large and varied selection. In fact, their shelves are literally chock full of books, comics, stickers, and cards, so it can take a little time to find a hidden gem!
The service is friendly, and prices are low. Whether you used to go to Nine Lives and didn’t know it had moved, or have never been at all, give this independent bookstore a go.
The newcomer among a group of long-established stores, Nowhere Bookshop opened at 5154 Broadway in early 2022. It was founded by bestselling Austin author, Jenny Lawson. Named for the feeling you get when you get lost in a good book, Jenny was inspired by her childhood in creating the concept for her store: “Growing up I spent more time in the land of books than I did in real life. I lived in those neverlands that you can only visit in stories. The places you grew up in that never actually existed. The ones you got lost in and the ones you found yourself in. Those strange countries that are real and important, in spite of the fact that they exist nowhere at all but inside you.”
Nowhere Bookshop sells new books, while a busy schedule of author events can be enjoyed in the shop’s coffee, wine, and beer bar. Jenny’s own books are available as signed editions, and there are useful guides to help you navigate the latest titles in fiction and non-fiction. Shop mascot Sir Terry Scratchett is on hand to pick out books for children of all ages, while moms can expand their reading horizons (the easy way!) with Jenny’s picks of the month.
Nowhere Bookshop is open daily, Monday–Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., and Sunday, 12:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. They only accept credit cards.
Located in the basement of the Central Public Library on Soledad, the BookCellar is truly one of the Alamo City’s hidden gems. With literally thousands of new and used books, including adult and children’s fiction, non-fiction, foreign language, rare and selected volumes, audio and videos, and magazines, you’re sure to find your next read here.
The BookCellar is staffed by volunteers and is open Fridays and Saturdays, 11:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m. Donations of gently used books and other media are welcome between Monday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Parking is free for up to three hours, and $5 thereafter. All of the profits made through sales in the BookCellar help to maintain and improve the San Antonio Public Library system.
Volunteers are always in demand! If you (or, let’s face it, your book-loving teen) can spare a few hours a week to shelve and sort books, arrange displays, and help customers, your contribution would be much appreciated.
This popular local bookstore is owned by book-loving husband and wife, Kenny and Lisa, and is located on the south side of San Antonio at 2815 W. Southcross. Their philosophy is simple: making books available to everyone by sharing high-quality paperbacks, hardbacks, children’s books, and other media, at bargain prices. To that end, you’ll find paperbacks for $3 or $4 and hardbacks for $5; while children’s books can be purchased for allowance-friendly prices: $2 paperbacks and $3 hardbacks.
With a huge selection of books, there are titles for every reader. If you find too many choices overwhelming, Kenny and Lisa are on hand with thoughtful recommendations and “books of the week.”
Closed on Tuesdays, Dead Tree Books is otherwise open 12:00–7:00 p.m., and 12:00–5:00 p.m. on Sundays.
With something for the whole family, The Book Haus is the best local bookstore in the beautiful nearby town of New Braunfels. Selling both new and gently used books, you’ll find every genre on the shelves of The Book Haus, with titles suitable for all ages. Their aim is to give everyone in town the chance to read books at an affordable price.
So stay a while, and choose your books in comfort. With free WiFi, free coffee, and a reading nook for kids, this store knows what moms need! They also have a busy schedule of author visits, artist performances, book clubs, and private events, so it’s worth checking their website if you’re heading to New Braunfels for the day.
The Book Haus is open daily, Monday–Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., and Sundays, 12:00–4:00 p.m.
From books about everything, for everyone, to something a little more specific…
Though they may have started as a seller of rare books from estates in Texas, Hill Country Books has expanded and now offers an incredible selection of books on the state and history of Texas, Bexar County, genealogy, art, children’s books, as well as vintage, unique, and hard to find books. For collectors, they maintain an outstanding number of first and signed editions.
Hill Country Books is a whimsical and wonderful stop for book lovers in, and visiting, Boerne. It’s a great place to find a special gift for family and friends outside of Texas, too.
They are open Monday–Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.; closed Sundays.
Another new bookstore in the wider San Antonio area, The Boerne Bookshop is in the heart of historic Boerne. Their goal is to provide a “high-quality experience with books that appeal to all readers.” And in that goal, they succeed. With its small-town vibe, the staff of The Boerne Bookshop love talking with customers about their favorite books, what they’d like to read next, and sourcing those books that aren’t already on their shelves.
Owner Dale Adams has the community at the heart of his venture, offering a weekly storytime on Mondays at 11:00 a.m., a popular Tolkien book club, and regular signings with local authors. There’s an extensive selection of children’s books, with a large BRIO play area to keep them happy (and busy) while you browse the other books.
Located within the exciting collaborative venue 153 Main, the casual yet inviting setting of The Boerne Bookshop is perfect to eat, drink, and find your next read. Open daily, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Located in Schertz, next to Randolph Air Force Base, is a true book lovers’ paradise! There are literally thousands of used books to choose from, as well as fun antiques, records, collectibles, and vintage finds. Although it’s a little off the beaten path, the shelves could keep you busy for hours, so it’s well worth the trip to see what you might find.
The owner, Jaime, is committed to helping you find what you’re looking for! Her sweet service and dedication to giving her customers great prices has made Crazy Lady Books a much-loved independent bookstore in the wider San Antonio area.
Closed Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, they are open the rest of the week from 11:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
If, like me, you’re a book lover in San Antonio, I hope you’ve enjoyed this round-up of our independent bookstores! We are very lucky to have a variety of great quality shops, staffed by people with both a genuine love of reading and a desire to serve our community of readers.
For unique independent bookstores beyond San Antonio, check out Rosalinda’s post, Bookish Stops in Texas.