8 Bookstores for Genre-Loving Readers

Bookstore with tall shelves
Photo: Lloyd Alter

For a while there, bookshops were declining at a disturbing rate, but that trend has finally stopped and, in some places, has reversed itself. One of the reasons bookstores have succeeded, even as the era of ebooks and next-day book delivery has become the norm, is because nothing can replace the fun of wandering among stacks of novels, nonfiction and memoir. And no algorithm can replace a knowledgable bookstore clerk or a reader who's passionate about a subject or genre.

Nowhere is that expertise and love more likely to be found than in a topic-specific bookstore — from geography to romance, food, mysteries or the deep sea. (And if you're a fan of architectural books, you might recognize Peter Miller Books above, an architectural bookstore in Seattle.) Read on to discover the many niche topics that have stores dedicated to their pursuit.

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Criminals only, please

Courtesy Sleuth of Baker Street.

The Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto is a store for mystery book fans that's been thriving since 1979. It carries everything noir, from "crime novels to detective fiction, Sherlockiana, spy and thriller novels ... lots and lots of mysteries ... British, American, Canadian ... new, used, out of print." The proprietors of the store love the genre and read voraciously, so if you're partial to Nordic mysteries, British thrillers or cozy crime and want to explore more of that genre-within-a-genre, you can find more of what you're looking for at this Toronto shop.

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Romancing the book

Photo: Courtesy The Ripped Bodice

The Ripped Bodice in Culver City, California, is a haven for fans of romantic novels. The only bookstore in the country that specializes in this genre, it was founded after sisters Bea and Leah Koch raised more than $90,000 on Kickstarter to open their doors. The store doesn't just sell books: "The mission behind the store is simple: Women should profit from their creative output. We feature as diverse a selection of romance as we can get our hands on, as well as jewelry, stationery and beauty products."

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For the hungry reader

Photo: Courtesy Archestratus Books' Instagram

Paige Lipari was a buyer at big bookstore chains while she learned the bookselling business and amassed a personal collection of obscure books about food and drinks. Then she opened Archestratus (named after the Greek poet and freethinker), which combines a Sicilian cafe with a bookstore for food lovers in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

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Books for sci-fi fans — and beyond

Photo: Courtesy Singularity & Co Facebook Page

This sci-fi centric bookstore is another Kickstarter success, but it was originally meant to be a project to electronically publish out-of-print vintage books. Ceci James and Ash Kalb raised so much money that they were able to create a brick-and-mortar bookshop, the Singularity and Co., in Brooklyn.

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Zoom into this motor-centric bookstore

Photo: Courtesy Automoto Bookstore Facebook page

The Automoto Bookstore in Sydney, Australia, might be the only one of its kind in the world. From international car magazines to books on the Titanic to motorcycle manuals to Grand Prix history books, anything that moves is covered by the store's wide selection of tomes.

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Dive deep into these seaworthy books

Photo: Courtesy of the Libreria del Mare website

In Milan, Italy, there's a little shop that covers the biggest thing on planet Earth: the sea. The store stocks books in Italian and other languages, and its selection includes photography books about ocean dwelling creatures as well as books on maritime topics. La Libreria del Mare (the Sea Library) also sells vintage maps and calendars and other ephemera with a oceangoing vibe.

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Travel the world without leaving NYC

Photo: Courtesy of Idlewild Bookshop's Facebook page

Idlewild books has two locations in New York City — one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn — which is a testament to the store's popularity with those who love travel books. The store also offers language classes so you can show up both informed about the local culture and speaking the native tongue.

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Explore visual culture in Paris

Photo: Courtesy Atazart Design Bookstore website

Paris' design bookstore, Artazart Design Bookstore, is an icon for lovers of design and art in the City of Light. The sizable space includes books on photography, modern and vintage design, and all kinds of visual arts.