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The Best Washington, DC Used Bookstores


Washington, DC Bookstores (photo credit: Dawn Endico)

There’s something quite magical about going into used bookstore. It’s not an experience that can be replicated at one of those hermetically-sealed and sanitized national chains. At Barnes & Noble or Borders you will never find a well-worn copy of one of your favorites and, whilst gently leafing through the pages, see notes a previous owner has made for herself in the margins. The corners of its pages will never be dog-eared and its cover will be without a crease or fold, those unmistakable hallmarks of multiple readings. Used bookstores are the conduit to other lives, mysterious links to unnamed human beings with whom you have a common interest. Plus there’s something oddly comforting about the smell of old, damp paper…

Below are my recommendations for the best used bookstores in Washington, DC. Visit them all and pick up those books you have been meaning to read…

Kultura Books (1728 Connecticut Avenue, NW – Dupont Circle)

A truly amazing variety of gently-used, old and out-of-print books. All genres represented and you can find some real treasures here. I recently picked up a boxed, leather-bound 1960’s edition of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’…which made my decade.

Capitol Hill Books (657 C Street, SE – Capitol Hill)

Stacks of books – literally, stacks of them – to be found in this iconic DC store. Specializing in first editions and rare printings, Capitol Hill Books will have what you are looking for.

Bartleby’s Books (1132 29th Street, NW – Georgetown)

Bartleby’s has a wealth of rare and antiquarian books. Ranging from a few dollars on their ubiquitous outdoor sale table, to the very expensive in their locked display case inside, a visit to this Georgetown institution in mandatory for any bibliophile.