Find your next read at one of these 5 unique Phoenix bookstores

Book Gallery (Photo by Analisa Valdez)

By Analisa Valdez

November 8, 2023

Everyone enjoys a good book, but not everyone knows where to look for them. With the rising popularity of BookTok (a TikTok subcommunity of readers), Amazon, and Kindles, many people get books delivered to their homes or to be digitally kept on their tablets. 

But for those who’ve felt they’ve been missing out on that timeless feeling of being surrounded by hardcover and paperback copies of some of their favorite stories, or even those they’ve yet to discover, here is a list of some of the best and most fascinating bookstores metro Phoenix has to offer. 

Bookmans Phoenix Entertainment Exchange 

8034 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix

Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Website | Facebook 

(Photo by Analisa Valdez)

Starting off in North Phoenix is the larger than life Bookmans Phoenix Entertainment Exchange. From shelves of hanging guitars, to a wall of posted vinyls, and an entire other section of the store full of video games and DVDs, Bookmans is a cornucopia of all things entertainment. But the biggest section of the monstrous shop? The huge array of bright red, labeled shelves of books. Although it can be overwhelming at first, guests can easily get the hang of the red shelf maze by looking up at the directional signs that point you towards the horror, romance, non-fiction, westerns, humor, cooking, science fiction, young adult, history, mystery, and many other featured sections Bookmans has. 

Bookmans has added special touches throughout the store. Alongside themed decor in each enclosed shelf section are seats, informational posters, and small displays of other themed books. One at the front of the store features books that follow the theme of “Don’t Go Into the Woods,” another features the “End of the World” trope, or the shelf dedicated to “From Page to Screen” novels that featured a personal favorite, “Normal People” by Sally Rooney. 

 

Changing Hands Bookstore 

300 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix 

Hours: Sunday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. | Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Website | Instagram 

(Photo by Analisa Valdez)

Located within the popular Newton’s shopping center along Camelback is Changing Hands Bookstore and the First Draft Book Bar. As guests make their way through the entrance, they’re met with a medley of dangling decorations, huge vibrant displays of gifts and novelties, and, naturally, large bunches of books in nearly every corner of the store. With a variety of books ranging from multi-level children’s books, shocking recently released memoirs, LGBTQ+ poem collections, recent and historic political analysis, BookTok highlights and nearly every other traditional, or non-traditional, book category you can think of, Changing Hands has it all within their vast array of shelves. 

In search of niche book topics? Changing Hands is the place to be. Their incredible collection includes ambiguous mystery novels, mind-boggling psychology texts, myth-busting books about the human body, popular high fantasy romances, and even a book on marijuana legislation in modern society I picked up for myself: “Weed Rules” by law professor Jay Wexler. Guests can also check out the shelves chock-full of puzzles, journals, tarot card packs, special calendars, postcards, and stands of stickers. And if you get parched while perusing the shelves, be sure to check out their First Draft Book Bar for refreshments. 

 

Phoenix Book Gallery 

3615 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Website | Facebook

(Photo by Analisa Valdez)

Located within Gaslight Square in central Phoenix is the Phoenix Book Gallery. Out front, there are discount carts full of books ready to be bought that lead up to the glass door entrance. From the entrance, guests can clearly see just how many books reside inside. The shelf closest to the door is full of featured books like a vibrant yellow and green copy of “The Annotated Wizard of Oz,” a large collection of various Japanese woodblock prints throughout the centuries, and an enormously thick Merriam Webster’s New International Dictionary with 600,000 entries and 3,350 pages. And that’s only the entrance of the store. 

Throughout, there are several other beaming bookcases and shelves that are equipped with ladders and several chairs for guests to use while searching the stacks. The shelves are marked and labeled by genre, author, history period, or subject. There is an entire children’s section that takes up rows of shelves near the back, a full shelf dedicated to poetry, another dedicated to classics, and even more for eras of time and categorizing historic events. Whether you’re searching for the complete poems of Robert Frost, the cookbooks of Betty Crocker, or the philosophical works from the greats like Homer, Plutarch, or Sophocles, there are plenty of rare and classic gems to look out for at the Phoenix Book Gallery. 

 

The Poisoned Pen Bookstore 

4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale

Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. | Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Website | Instagram 

(Photo by Analisa Valdez)

In the heart of Old Town Scottsdale is the popular Poisoned Pen Bookstore. Known for its constant influx of new and recently released books, the Poisoned Pen is stocked with the trending, the best reviewed, and the most recommended books you can find. With signed posters on the ceiling alongside photos of various visiting authors, it’s no wonder why the Poisoned Pen has become a highlighted stop for book shopping in the Valley. 

When guests first walk in, the first thing to notice—that aren’t the dangling decorations or vibrancy of the shop itself—the intricately set up shelves and book displays. There’s one at the front dedicated to the natural beauty of the Arizona desert and hiking tips, another shelf that holds all things flora and fauna, displays based on popular romance novels and series, and even a shelf where the workers have recommended their favorites. Overall, if you’ve heard about a book, they probably have it hidden within the stacks here at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore. 

 

Half Price Books (Mesa) 

6339 E. Southern Ave., Mesa

Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Website | Facebook 

(Photo by Analisa Valdez)

And last but not least, located within a shopping center in south Mesa is Half Price Books. Half Price Books in Mesa is a large bookstore made up of several sectioned-off parts. At the center are rows of fiction, nonfiction, informative, and narrative books. Half Price Books has a shelf featuring a highlighted glass case full of classics and special edition mangas and comic books, and another section featuring large atlases, dictionaries, and picture books. 

The different sections feature themed shelves ranging from world history, cooking, self-help, music, religion, and even an entire section in the far back corner made up of all kids, teens, and young adult books. Two large shelves on the far end are dedicated to recently released novels either never before seen or featured on the Kindle app. On the opposite side are another two shelves made up of mystery, high fantasy, and science fiction. I spotted rows dedicated to George Lucas’s “Star Wars” books and the entire George RR Martin “Game of Thrones” series. 

 

READ MORE: 5 vintage and antique shops to visit in Phoenix’s Melrose District

Author

  • Analisa Valdez

    Analisa Valdez is a lifestyle reporter for The Copper Courier. She also covers the arts and entertainment world for the Echo. Analisa has been part of the State Press for three years and is in her third year at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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