The 10 Best Independent Bookstores in Cincinnati

One of the best scents in the world is that of a freshly opened book. Each book has its own distinct smell and it’s something that just can’t be replicated by an e-reader.

For book lovers, there’s no better place to experience the joy of opening new books than at a bookstore. Even better, bookstores offer you the opportunity to discover a completely unexpected and random book that you never even knew existed.

Fortunately, Cincinnati is home to several excellent bookstores, ranging from small coffee shop bookstores to larger multi-level stores.

In this post we share our picks for the best 10 bookstores around Cincinnati.

Map of Bookstores

The map below shows the locations of every bookstore mentioned in this post:

Ohio Book Store

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First up on our list is Ohio Book Store, a multi-level bookstore located in Downtown Cincinnati. The store features several floors that all offer stacks upon stacks of books at every turn. Their genres range from sci-fi to history to everything in between. No matter what you’re looking for, you can find it here. And even if you’re not looking for a particular book, this is just a fun place to walk around in and get lost among the rows of books for hours at a time.

Location:  726 Main St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

Website: Ohio Book Store

Joseph-Beth Booksellers

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Next up is Joseph-Beth Booksellers, a huge bookstore located in the Rookwood Shopping Center on the outskirts of Hyde Park. This is the type of bookstore where you’ll find new bestsellers from a wide variety of genres. They also offer a section completely dedicated to books and memorabilia based around Cincinnati, which is a neat area to check out if you’re looking to give a gift to someone who enjoys reading about the Queen City. The staff here is always friendly and helpful as well, so if you have a particular book that you’re having trouble finding, just ask for help.

Location: 2692 Madison Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45208

Website: Joseph-Beth Booksellers

Blue Manatee Literacy Project Bookstore

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Next on our list is Blue Manatee Literacy Project Bookstore, a bookstore located in the heart of Oakley. This bookstore specializes in children’s books and indie books that you likely won’t find at other bookstores. They also have a wonderful incentive for shoppers: for every book you purchase, they’ll donate one to a child in need in Cincinnati. Their entire mission is to empower young readers around the city with the resources they need to improve their reading skills and thrive as learners, so you can be sure that when you buy something here that you’ll be making an impact on some child somewhere.

Location: 3094 Madison Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45209

Website: Blue Manatee

Smith & Hannon Bookstore

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If you’re looking for a bookstore to check out in Over-The-Rhine, look no further than Smith & Hannon Bookstore. They specialize in African American literature along with work produced by locals. They also offer a wide variety of memorabilia including posters, greeting cards, souvenirs, bookmarks, magnets, tee shirts, and jewelry. The staff here is always friendly and helpful, their prices are fair, and it’s an all-around fun bookstore to walk through and explore because you never know what you’ll stumble across.

Location: 1405 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

Website: Smith & Hannon Bookstore

Iris Book Cafe

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Another somewhat hidden bookstore in Over-The-Rhine actually doubles as a coffee shop: Iris Book Cafe. This coffee shop gives off the vibe of a small, inviting library, which is obvious from the moment you walk in and see the various tables and walls lined with books. This is an excellent spot to enjoy some coffee and find a new book to read. The shop also has an outdoor courtyard in the back, which is an oasis for anyone who wants to enjoy a good book and a drink outside when the weather is nice.

Location: 1331 Main St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

Website: Iris Book Cafe

Duttenhofer’s Books

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Located in the heart of the University of Cincinnati campus, Duttenhofer’s Books is a unique bookstore that specializes in fiction and classics, along with all things vintage or antique. This is a particularly fun store to walk around in because you never know what you’ll find. From the common to the obscure, Duttenhofer’s always seems to have hidden gems just waiting to be discovered by customers.

Location: 214 W McMillan St, Cincinnati, OH 45219

Website: Duttenhofer’s Books

Bookshelf

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Next up is a bookstore with the simplest name on our list: Bookshelf. Located in Madeira, this store is a cute hidden gem that locals love. The owners are friendly, the staff is helpful, and they often have curated lists of books that they recommend checking out. You can tell from the moment you walk in that this bookstore takes pride in what it does, which makes it a perfect spot to check out for book lovers.

Location: 754 Camargo Rd Cincinnati, OH 45243

Website: Bookshelf

The Friends’ Used Bookstore at the Warehouse

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Next up on our list is The Friends’ Used Bookstore at the Warehouse, a bookstore located on the outskirts of Wyoming in northern Cincinnati. This store specializes in used books, and, boy, do they have an impressive selection of them. From sci-fi to biographies to fiction to everything in between, this is a fun spot to wander through because you never know what you’ll stumble across. And despite being used, most of the books are still in great shape. If you’re in the market for some discounted books, this is a must-stop shop.

Location: 8456 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45216

Website: The Friends’ Used Bookstore at the Warehouse

Roebling Point Books & Coffee

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Next up is another hybrid between a coffee shop and a bookstore: Roebling Point Books & Coffee. This small coffee shop located across the Ohio River in Covington, KY is bursting with character. Books of all types line the walls, including a nice selection of books written by Cincinnati locals. The shop has several different small rooms that are all lined with books and comfy chairs and couches sprinkled throughout so that you can pick a book off the shelf and peruse through it while you enjoy some coffee in a laid back setting.

Location: 306 Greenup St, Covington, KY 41011

Website: Roebling Point Books & Coffee

The First Edition Rare Books

Last but not least on our list is The First Edition Rare Books, a bookstore in Downtown Cincinnati known for offering the finest notable rare books, which are books that tend to be historically important in some way. For example, one customer shared that they were able to snag Ted Kennedy’s biography signed by Caroline Kennedy at this shop. And despite being historically important books, most people find that the prices are reasonable. For any history buffs, this is an excellent bookstore to check out.

Location: 250 E 5th St #1542, Cincinnati, OH 45202

Website: The First Edition Rare Books

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