The Best Bookstores in Asheville, NC
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The 5 Best Bookstores in Asheville for Bibliophiles!

I am so grateful that after our technology surges over the last 20 years, the written word has not died. If anything, brick-and-mortar bookstores seem to be growing (and flourishing!) and making their mark in communities. 

Whether you’re an aspiring author, a self-proclaimed bibliophile, a casual paperback reader, or just looking for rainy-day activities, Asheville is a great place to find your next great read. If you don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a list of all of our favorite bookstores in town!  

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The 5 Best Bookstores in Asheville for Bibliophiles!

1. Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe

Best Bookstores in Asheville: Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe

Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, an independent bookstore that has been around since 1982, is a haven for bookworms and indie authors alike. It’s a large welcoming environment that has an impressive spread of books for every type of reader from nine to 90. 

Malaprop’s is known for their support of local and indie authors, regularly hosting events for signings, live readings, and spotlighting local authors. Malaprop’s manages what few spaces seem to, having a spacious store that feels cozy and thoughtful while also brimming with creativity and color. 

Their kid’s section is especially encompassing. Malaprop’s also has “blind date with a book” options, book clubs, a plethora of unique and funny bookish gifts, and a wonderful cafe with Counter Culture coffee. 

I also love that the bookstore is heavily involved with community outreach. As such, they donate hundreds of books a year, often partner with nonprofits for fundraising events, and create a literary safe space for all. Malaprop’s will always hold a space in my heart as my favorite bookstore in the South! 

Location: 55 Haywood St, Asheville.

2. Firestorm Books

Must Visit Bookstores in Asheville, NC: Firestorm
 Image courtesy of Firestorm

This radical, collectively-owned bookstore is at home in its space on Haywood Road. I’d say that Firestorm is unlike any bookstore you’ve been to outside of Portland. Firestorm is proudly queer, alternative, and independent. 

This small but robust space is never short of a community event or outreach program, and hopes to one day invest 100% of their earnings back into the community, once they can sustain their labor at a living wage for all their employees. 

This self-proclaimed anarchist and feminist collective carries books that appeal to the interests, passions, and needs of the marginalized communities of the South. So expect many LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and local authors to fill the shelves, branching all subjects, and even a sweet zine section! 

The booksellers are not ones to pressure sales, but give the guests space and time to prowl the isles on their own. Firestorm also hosts a small cafe, with coffees, teas, and vegan pastries, and wants their space to be known as a space where you can work, write, or meet with friends. 

Location: 1022 Haywood Rd, Asheville. 

3. Bagatelle Books

Want the high you get from thrifting, but don’t want to waste your time on flops? Look no further than Bagatelle Books. A used bookstore that specializes in rare and unique books, every item is thoughtfully curated, making sure that there is no filler or wasted space. 

Small but refreshingly bright and cheerier than your average used bookstore, beams of sunshine filter through the windows and cast the store in warm light. Located on Haywood Road, they are conveniently set between a florist and cafe. They also have a charming garden out back, which occasionally hosts in-store events. 

There isn’t much in the way of children’s books, but the store does boast an impressive range of rare books preserved for sale behind a glass case, as well as categories like “martial arts” and “philosophy.” 

Location: 428 C, Haywood Rd, Asheville.

4. Downtown Books & News 

best bookstores in asheville downtown books and news
Image courtesy of Downtown Books & News

Downtown Books & News is reminiscent of my favorite record shop I frequented as a kid outside of Detroit. The type of space that the moment you enter, you feel like your cool points have just gone up a few ticks. 

Charming and inviting, this shop doesn’t feel like an elite cool kid club, but an old-school space for locals to browse books and enjoy small talk. There is no shortage of bookshelves and eclectic titles or subjects, yet the store doesn’t feel too cramped. 

It’s a used bookstore with more than fair prices and with the feeling of unearthing gems at every turn. I bought a few hardcover “Harry Potter” books for my kids at under $10 each, and picked up a book for myself in the staff picks section, by far the customer favorite section, as well as a handmade patch at the counter. 

This bookstore has done the perfect job of blending the new and the old in the heart of downtown Asheville since 1988. 

location: 67 N Lexington Ave, Asheville.

5. Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar 

Cool Bookstores in Asheville, NC: Battery Park

Battery Park Book Exchange is bougie in all the ways you want, when indulging in your fantasies to live as a wealthy bookstore heiress. Just me? Well, Battery Park is worthy of your favor anyway by just being the landmark that it is.

Located in the unmistakable Grove Arcade, a pillar of Asheville, lies a gem you can truly get lost in. A two-story bookstore that is filled with art and antiques, alcoves, and, of course, “browsing beverages.” 

It’s easy to slip off and cozy up with one of their over 10,000 books, even in this bustling business. There are tons of seating options, from the bar, which offers champagne flights (naturally), as well as a full tea service and appetizers. 

Countless low leather couches and wingback upholstered chairs are peppered throughout. Battery Park regularly has live music and hosts private events, so be sure to call or check their socials to make sure you’re in the clear to check out this one-of-a-kind experience.

Location: 1 Page Ave #101, Asheville.

There you have it! Our picks for the 5 best bookstores in Asheville, NC. Did we miss any cool Asheville bookstores? Let us know in the comments below!

Ashley Reid is a freelance writer who feels blessed to have called Asheville home for the last five years. Born in the suburbs of Detroit, she spent her 20s living coastal in South Carolina before the Blue Ridge Mountains called her home. Ashley is a homeschooling mother to her two daughters, married to her high school sweetheart, and always looking to the horizon for her next adventure. Ashley moved to Western North Carolina after years of visiting on vacations and realized this place was way too beautiful to leave behind. The Pisgah National Forest, abundance of waterfalls, Blue Ridge Parkway, and plethora of tasty eats in the area won her over to the Tarheel State. She is happiest when she is riverside and is vehement about keeping herself and her children outdoors as much as possible. Ashley is a woman never short of a hobby or new interest. She writes for various publications and companies. She is a voracious reader, aspiring author, sewist, gardener, and amateur homesteader. She loves working with her hands and being with her kids. She has never considered being called weird an insult and has no problem telling strangers about her love of opossums or a new podcast episode. Ashley is always on the hunt for the best burger and coffee in town. She is passionate about wellness, kindness, and keeping childhood wild.

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