These Are Cincinnati’s 10 Best Independent Bookstores, as Voted by CityBeat Readers

The Queen City is home to a vibrant community of bookworms. And lucky for them, there are plenty of locally-owned neighborhood bookstores to shop from.

CityBeat has been in the business of curating the Best Of Cincinnati® for more than two decades, highlighting the city’s most outstanding selections in Eats, Arts & Culture, Shops & Services, Music & Nightlife, Sports & Recreation and City Life. And the responsibility of selecting these exceptional entities is divided between our readers and staff. This year, readers logged on to the ballot site in droves to vote for their favorites in broad categories, including best local independent bookstore. Here are the winners.
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No. 10: Downbound Books
4139 Apple St., Northside
Between online shopping and a bevy of large chain retailers with massive inventories, it can be hard to make up your mind on what to read and where to buy. That’s why an independent bookstore like Downbound Books is so important in this age of overwhelming information: think “less is more,” with an abundance of thoughtful variety. Owner Gregory Kornbluh, a Cincinnati native, returned from a 13-year stint on the East Coast where he worked as a bookseller at a shop outside Boston and later in sales and marketing for Harvard University Press. With a focus on intentional curation and comprehensive subheads, Kornbluh says Downbound's inventory “forces people to see stuff they might not have been looking for.” Downbound also offers crafts, stationery and novelty items from local purveyors. 
Photo: Kaitlyn Handel

No. 10: Downbound Books

4139 Apple St., Northside
Between online shopping and a bevy of large chain retailers with massive inventories, it can be hard to make up your mind on what to read and where to buy. That’s why an independent bookstore like Downbound Books is so important in this age of overwhelming information: think “less is more,” with an abundance of thoughtful variety. Owner Gregory Kornbluh, a Cincinnati native, returned from a 13-year stint on the East Coast where he worked as a bookseller at a shop outside Boston and later in sales and marketing for Harvard University Press. With a focus on intentional curation and comprehensive subheads, Kornbluh says Downbound's inventory “forces people to see stuff they might not have been looking for.” Downbound also offers crafts, stationery and novelty items from local purveyors.
Photo: Kaitlyn Handel
No. 10: Downbound Books
4139 Apple St., Northside
Between online shopping and a bevy of large chain retailers with massive inventories, it can be hard to make up your mind on what to read and where to buy. That’s why an independent bookstore like Downbound Books is so important in this age of overwhelming information: think “less is more,” with an abundance of thoughtful variety. Owner Gregory Kornbluh, a Cincinnati native, returned from a 13-year stint on the East Coast where he worked as a bookseller at a shop outside Boston and later in sales and marketing for Harvard University Press. With a focus on intentional curation and comprehensive subheads, Kornbluh says Downbound's inventory “forces people to see stuff they might not have been looking for.” Downbound also offers crafts, stationery and novelty items from local purveyors. 
Photo: Kaitlyn Handel

No. 10: Downbound Books

4139 Apple St., Northside
Between online shopping and a bevy of large chain retailers with massive inventories, it can be hard to make up your mind on what to read and where to buy. That’s why an independent bookstore like Downbound Books is so important in this age of overwhelming information: think “less is more,” with an abundance of thoughtful variety. Owner Gregory Kornbluh, a Cincinnati native, returned from a 13-year stint on the East Coast where he worked as a bookseller at a shop outside Boston and later in sales and marketing for Harvard University Press. With a focus on intentional curation and comprehensive subheads, Kornbluh says Downbound's inventory “forces people to see stuff they might not have been looking for.” Downbound also offers crafts, stationery and novelty items from local purveyors.
Photo: Kaitlyn Handel
No. 9: Homestead Used Books
65 W. Main St., Amelia
You have to love an indie bookstore that has hours “weekends noon-6 or by chance or appointment.” Amelia’s Homestead Used Books is a quaint escape that started as a passion project for its owner, Harold Tuch. Harry began selling books at a flea market before opening a brick-and-mortar in 2014. What does he sell? As per the description on the website, “Whether you want to read about history or indulge in some children's literature, we have something offered for everyone. During your visit with us, it'll be like a treasure hunt because you never know what you may find on our bookshelves.”
Photo: Danielle Schuster

No. 9: Homestead Used Books

65 W. Main St., Amelia
You have to love an indie bookstore that has hours “weekends noon-6 or by chance or appointment.” Amelia’s Homestead Used Books is a quaint escape that started as a passion project for its owner, Harold Tuch. Harry began selling books at a flea market before opening a brick-and-mortar in 2014. What does he sell? As per the description on the website, “Whether you want to read about history or indulge in some children's literature, we have something offered for everyone. During your visit with us, it'll be like a treasure hunt because you never know what you may find on our bookshelves.”
Photo: Danielle Schuster
No. 9: Homestead Used Books
65 W. Main St., Amelia
You have to love an indie bookstore that has hours “weekends noon-6 or by chance or appointment.” Amelia’s Homestead Used Books is a quaint escape that started as a passion project for its owner, Harold Tuch. Harry began selling books at a flea market before opening a brick-and-mortar in 2014. What does he sell? As per the description on the website, “Whether you want to read about history or indulge in some children's literature, we have something offered for everyone. During your visit with us, it'll be like a treasure hunt because you never know what you may find on our bookshelves.”
Photo: Danielle Schuster

No. 9: Homestead Used Books

65 W. Main St., Amelia
You have to love an indie bookstore that has hours “weekends noon-6 or by chance or appointment.” Amelia’s Homestead Used Books is a quaint escape that started as a passion project for its owner, Harold Tuch. Harry began selling books at a flea market before opening a brick-and-mortar in 2014. What does he sell? As per the description on the website, “Whether you want to read about history or indulge in some children's literature, we have something offered for everyone. During your visit with us, it'll be like a treasure hunt because you never know what you may find on our bookshelves.”
Photo: Danielle Schuster
No. 8: Ohio Book Store
726 Main St., Downtown
If you’re like us, there’s nothing quite as intoxicating as the smell of old books — and there’s no better place to find them than downtown’s five-story Ohio Book Store. It’s easy to get lost among the racks of classic literature, cookbooks and secondhand fiction, but wherever you wander, be sure to take a look at the glass cabinet in the middle of the first floor. It’s full of rare and wonderful tomes. And if you have some vintage books of your own you’d like to learn more about, be sure to ask about their appraisal services. The Ohio Book Store can appraise rare books, documents and other literary ephemera.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

No. 8: Ohio Book Store

726 Main St., Downtown
If you’re like us, there’s nothing quite as intoxicating as the smell of old books — and there’s no better place to find them than downtown’s five-story Ohio Book Store. It’s easy to get lost among the racks of classic literature, cookbooks and secondhand fiction, but wherever you wander, be sure to take a look at the glass cabinet in the middle of the first floor. It’s full of rare and wonderful tomes. And if you have some vintage books of your own you’d like to learn more about, be sure to ask about their appraisal services. The Ohio Book Store can appraise rare books, documents and other literary ephemera.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
No. 8: Ohio Book Store
726 Main St., Downtown
If you’re like us, there’s nothing quite as intoxicating as the smell of old books — and there’s no better place to find them than downtown’s five-story Ohio Book Store. It’s easy to get lost among the racks of classic literature, cookbooks and secondhand fiction, but wherever you wander, be sure to take a look at the glass cabinet in the middle of the first floor. It’s full of rare and wonderful tomes. And if you have some vintage books of your own you’d like to learn more about, be sure to ask about their appraisal services. The Ohio Book Store can appraise rare books, documents and other literary ephemera.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

No. 8: Ohio Book Store

726 Main St., Downtown
If you’re like us, there’s nothing quite as intoxicating as the smell of old books — and there’s no better place to find them than downtown’s five-story Ohio Book Store. It’s easy to get lost among the racks of classic literature, cookbooks and secondhand fiction, but wherever you wander, be sure to take a look at the glass cabinet in the middle of the first floor. It’s full of rare and wonderful tomes. And if you have some vintage books of your own you’d like to learn more about, be sure to ask about their appraisal services. The Ohio Book Store can appraise rare books, documents and other literary ephemera.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
No. 7: Cincy Book Bus
Check their social media for upcoming pop-up locations
Housed in the bed of a vintage Volkswagen pickup truck, Cincy Book Bus delivers the joy of reading via pop-ups at cafés, flea markets and nonprofit events. Owner Melanie Moore, a former teacher, also helps schools in the area stock their libraries and participates in community literacy programs. If you can’t get to the bookstore on wheels, you can shop it online. 
Photo: Danielle Schuster

No. 7: Cincy Book Bus

Check their social media for upcoming pop-up locations
Housed in the bed of a vintage Volkswagen pickup truck, Cincy Book Bus delivers the joy of reading via pop-ups at cafés, flea markets and nonprofit events. Owner Melanie Moore, a former teacher, also helps schools in the area stock their libraries and participates in community literacy programs. If you can’t get to the bookstore on wheels, you can shop it online.
Photo: Danielle Schuster
No. 7: Cincy Book Bus
Check their social media for upcoming pop-up locations
Housed in the bed of a vintage Volkswagen pickup truck, Cincy Book Bus delivers the joy of reading via pop-ups at cafés, flea markets and nonprofit events. Owner Melanie Moore, a former teacher, also helps schools in the area stock their libraries and participates in community literacy programs. If you can’t get to the bookstore on wheels, you can shop it online. 
Photo: Danielle Schuster

No. 7: Cincy Book Bus

Check their social media for upcoming pop-up locations
Housed in the bed of a vintage Volkswagen pickup truck, Cincy Book Bus delivers the joy of reading via pop-ups at cafés, flea markets and nonprofit events. Owner Melanie Moore, a former teacher, also helps schools in the area stock their libraries and participates in community literacy programs. If you can’t get to the bookstore on wheels, you can shop it online.
Photo: Danielle Schuster
No. 6: Iris Bookcafe
1331 Main St., Over-the-Rhine
Iris Bookcafe in Over-the-Rhine specializes in local eats, good coffee and vintage books. In addition to dining on vegan soups and vegan peanut butter cookies, patrons can peruse shelves of books covering everything from architecture to fashion and philosophy to cooking. They also carry titles for children and a large selection of Polish books. The storefront doubles as an art gallery.
Photo: Francisco Huerta

No. 6: Iris Bookcafe

1331 Main St., Over-the-Rhine
Iris Bookcafe in Over-the-Rhine specializes in local eats, good coffee and vintage books. In addition to dining on vegan soups and vegan peanut butter cookies, patrons can peruse shelves of books covering everything from architecture to fashion and philosophy to cooking. They also carry titles for children and a large selection of Polish books. The storefront doubles as an art gallery.
Photo: Francisco Huerta
No. 6: Iris Bookcafe
1331 Main St., Over-the-Rhine
Iris Bookcafe in Over-the-Rhine specializes in local eats, good coffee and vintage books. In addition to dining on vegan soups and vegan peanut butter cookies, patrons can peruse shelves of books covering everything from architecture to fashion and philosophy to cooking. They also carry titles for children and a large selection of Polish books. The storefront doubles as an art gallery.
Photo: Francisco Huerta

No. 6: Iris Bookcafe

1331 Main St., Over-the-Rhine
Iris Bookcafe in Over-the-Rhine specializes in local eats, good coffee and vintage books. In addition to dining on vegan soups and vegan peanut butter cookies, patrons can peruse shelves of books covering everything from architecture to fashion and philosophy to cooking. They also carry titles for children and a large selection of Polish books. The storefront doubles as an art gallery.
Photo: Francisco Huerta