Books have long been society’s most reliable way to spread new thoughts and ideas, as well as tell a riveting story. Sadly, however, physical books are quickly slipping away from the public consciousness and into antiquity, much like the walkman, the typewriter and polio. Thankfully, there are still dedicated booksellers in the STL area.
Left Bank Books
Often considered to a have a tight grip on the STL independent booksellers market, this aging store still possesses what enticed its devoted clientele in the first place. Left Bank Books is vastly superior to any of the other indie booksellers in St. Louis. The selection is the most diverse, prominently featuring both mainstream and independent literature. Left Bank also has a very impressive used books section with more than fair prices. The only drawback is that they allow a cat to roam the store without considerations of customers’ pet allergies. Despite this, locally, Left Bank is as good as you can get.
Upon entrance, the most striking feature is the owner’s dog, wagging his tail at the sight of a potential customer. There seems to be a connection between local bookstore employees and their practice of keeping pets in store — perhaps it’s to make the environment more home-like.
More excited than the pup was the cashier, who perhaps hadn’t seen a customer for hours. That would be a shame, for despite the small selection, Subterranean Books is an impressive bookstore. There is a sizable amount of poetry, fiction and niche genres. While they aren’t quite as popular and don’t have as diverse a selection as Left Bank Books, I’m proud of St. Louis for having Subterranean Books in its midst.
The Novel Neighbor
The Novel Neighbor somehow had an even less extensive selection than Subterranean and the store felt more claustrophobic. The selection was sparse when it came to obscure genres. However, if you’re looking for a best-selling book, The Novel Neighbor is the place to get it.
Being a new business, their books don’t sell out nearly as quickly as the more well-known book stores around town. The Novel Neighbor also has an array of quirky magnets and mementos that are too interesting to pass up.
Story: Ian Scott
Photo: Ryan Fitzgerald