Long, dark winters provide Alaskans with a perfect excuse to stay warm and cozy indoors with a good book. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of bookstores in the Last Frontier. From stores boasting a selection of half a million books, to others featuring rare works, Alaska has plenty of treats to be discovered in its bookstores. Here are the 10 best!
A Ketchikan staples since 1985, Parnassus Books is within easy walking distance from the cruise ship docks, making it a favorite stop for summer visitors in search of unique Alaska reading material. Locals love it, too, for its eclectic blend of Alaska-related and world literature. You’ll also find one-of-a-kind gifts here.
History buffs could happily sink into the Alaska Heritage Bookshop and stay forever. Old and out-of-print books and magazines are among the treasures commonly found here. The proprietor also maintains an excellent collection of vintage memorabilia and art, such as postcards, old calendars, Native baskets, parkas, and various arts-and-crafts items.
Conveniently located in Juneau’s Nugget Mall, Hearthside Books has been feeding residents thirst for knowledge since 1975. Not local? No problem. You can shop online for everything from the latest from local authors to national and global bestsellers. You’ll also find a great selection of educational toys here. Hearthside Books also hosts a board game club that meets twice per month. If you’ve got young adult readers in the home. Publishers send Hearthside Books dozens of not-yet-released YA book, and you can get up to three of these per month just providing feedback on them.
Old Harbor Books is another well-established favorite beloved by Alaska residents. Serving Sitka residents since 1976. If Old Harbor doesn’t have the book you want in stock, they can get it for you for no extra charge, including free shipping. Because the owners understand that reading and tasty treats go together, they offer a hand-picked line of delectable delights and specialty teas designed to enhance your reading pleasure.
True to its dedication to the authentic preservation of the history of the Gold Rush community of Skagway, this historic Broadway Street bookstore and news stand uses community’s original spelling in its name. Check out the Best of Skagway Police Blotter volumes one and two for a unique look into the daily life of upper panhandle community.
The oldest independent bookstore on the Kenai Peninsula, the Homer Bookstore has its origins in a simple book rack inside a sporting goods store. Officially opening as a fully-fledged bookstore in 1974, the bookstore has occupied a variety of locations and now resides in a charming old building on Pioneer Avenue. You’ll find Alaskana galore, local authors, best sellers, and much more. You can even download eBooks through their website or order an autographed copy of The Homestead Kitchen Cookbook by reality stars Eve and Eiven Kilcher.
Not only is Title Wave Books the largest bookstore in Alaska, it’s one of the largest used bookstores in the country. With over 30,000 square-feet of space, shoppers can choose from over 500,000 books. You can also get audiobooks, vinyl LPs, CDs, and DVDs. The Title Wave boasts the best selection of Alaska-related books anywhere, and it’s got a huge children’s section. You can also trade in books you’ve already read for credit for fresh material. Title Wave also hosts a variety of events such as Scrabble Night, Children’s Storytelling, and Chess Club meetings. Kaladi Brothers Coffee has a location inside Title Wave that makes a wonderful place to peruse new purchases.
Fireside Books in Palmer has been featuring a great selection of Alaska-themed material, children’s books, best sellers, and more in the heart of downtown Palmer since 2001. As true supporters, of Alaskan writing, the owners of Fireside Books sponsor a “Read Alaska” program where participants can earn gift certificates and vouchers for author dinners as well as be entered in drawings by buying books by Alaska authors.
A Fairbanks institution since 1985, award winning Gulliver’s Books sells new and used books, concert and other event tickets, and has a cozy café on its second floor. You can trade in your Barnes & Noble gift card for store credit, get a 10 percent discount on café and bookstore items by purchasing a discount card, and use the special-order service for items not in stock. Homeschooler, librarians, and educators receive a 20-percent discount.
Named after Alaska’s state flower, Forget-Me-Not Books is another Fairbanks favorite. Operated by The Literacy Council of Alaska, this second-hand bookstore specializes in Alaskana—if it’s about Alaska, you’ll probably find it here. There’s also a great section of children’s literature as well as vintage books on a variety of subjects. Looking for a way to give back to your community? Forget-Me-Not Books can always use dedicated volunteer. All proceeds to go to promote literacy in Fairbanks and other interior Alaska communities.