Looking for a great book? There are tons of amazing bookstores in New Orleans just waiting for you to discover them!
Whether you're looking for an indie book shop or a bookstore specializing in used books, this guide has the best stores in every neighborhood!
New Orleans is famous for a lot of things: music, nightlife, food, architecture ... the list could go on! But did you know that the city has a vibrant literary scene, too?
With its distinctive culture and people, it's not surprising that countless writers (including Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin, Walt Whitman, Anne Rice, and William Faulkner) have lived in or been inspired by the city through the years.
And there's no better place to explore the bookish side of the Big Easy than through its bookstores! There are so many amazing New Orleans bookstores where you can spend an afternoon (or a day) lost in the stacks.
Whether you're searching for the latest bestseller or a rare first edition, there's guaranteed to be a book shop in New Orleans that carries exactly what you're looking for. You'll find all the best ones below!
Best Bookstores in New Orleans
Ready to start shopping for that perfect book? While there are a few chains where you can buy books in New Orleans, this guide is focused on independent bookstores. I've divided these shops into two sections: Indie Bookstores and Used Bookstores.
You'll find a few extras too (or lagniappe as they say in New Orleans), including a map and other places to find books. So make sure to read all the way to the end!
Can't find the book you're looking for? Ask! Most of these shops are on the small side, but staff can point you in the right direction, order the book you're looking for, or offer suggestions for similar books. And don't forget to sign up for your favorite stores' newsletters so you can stay up to date on author signings, book groups, and other events.
New Orleanians are spoiled for choice when it comes to independent bookstores! There are so many unique shops in the city, and each of these stores has their own specialty and character.
Baldwin & Co.
Baldwin & Co. is the kind of bookstore where you'll want to hang out for a while! The shop is bright, beautifully designed, and it's one of two black-owned bookstores in NOLA. They have a smallish, but very well-considered selection of books to buy, plus books you can read in store (for free). There's even a podcasting studio that's available for rent by the hour. After you find the perfect book, grab a coffee, tea, or a pastry at the cafe, then find a seat inside or in the outdoor courtyard to read or work.
Blue Cypress Books
Uptown / Carrollton
If you find yourself near Oak Street, make sure to stop by Blue Cypress Books! This homey shop is a neighborhood favorite with a welcoming atmosphere and a large selection of new and secondhand books. You'll have two levels to explore here: a cozy, crowded (in a good way) first floor, and a loft-like second floor with a bird's eye view of the street below. Keep an eye out for the cute cat while you're shopping!
Community Book Center
Community Book Center is a New Orleans institution with a diverse selection of books, friendly staff, and so much more! It's one of the city's two black-owned bookshops, and the space is open and airy with room for the community to gather. I love the giant baobab tree in the children's section up front. Before you leave, make sure to check out the gorgeous mural on the side of the building.
Faulkner House Books
This charming bookstore is located in Pirate's Alley just off Jackson Square. It's a must visit, especially if you're a fan of William Faulkner, who lived in the building while writing his first book. Faulkner House Books may be small in size, but it's stacked with new literature and rare books from floor to ceiling ... you will be hard-pressed to leave empty handed!
Frenchmen Art & Books
This eclectic store has a little bit of everything! Stop by to browse a well-curated selection of books, check out their art collection, or pick up a unique gift (I got a cool 3D puzzle here for my husband). Bonus: Frenchmen Art & Books is open late several nights a week, so stop by after listening to music or grabbing a drink on Frenchmen Street!
Garden District Book Shop
The Garden District Book Shop is a hidden gem that's located in the The Rink, an airy little shopping center that's kitty corner from Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (and near Commander's Palace). This welcoming store caries a wide selection of books, ranging from contemporary fiction to local interest, and everything in between. They also have a special Anne Rice section (she used to live nearby) and many signed copies.
Mr. Wolf Espresso & Books
Looking for art books? Head to Mr. Wolf Espresso & Books, which is located in the Contemporary Art Center. This small shop is the perfect place to relax after a visit to the museum. Have fun browsing art and books, then sit down and enjoy a coffee or pastry.
Octavia Books is tucked into a quiet residential neighborhood, a couple blocks from Magazine Street. A big, beautiful window welcomes you in to explore the shop's many nooks and crannies. You'll find a wide range of tempting books here, from contemporary fiction to children's books and nonfiction, plus a special section of books about New Orleans.
Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop
Tubby & Coo's recently celebrated their grand-reopening! The shop specializes in science fiction, fantasy, queer literature, progressive nonfiction, graphic novels, and children's books, and it provides a welcoming space for self-described nerds and greeks. They also have a board game room ... what is not to love? Tip: this bookstore can be a bit tricky to find ... make sure to check out the detailed directions on their website before your visit.
Looking for a one-of-a-kind find? You're in luck, because New Orleans is known for its secondhand bookstores! Whether you're searching for a signed first edition or a murder mystery, you're sure to find a treasure or two in these shops.
Arcadian Books & Prints
Do you enjoy the thrill of the hunt? Then head to Arcadian Books & Prints. Books are literally stacked floor to ceiling here, and the owner has described the small shop as "organized chaos" ... ha. You'll find books on a wide variety of topics, plus a large French language section.
Step into Beckham's Bookshop to discover over 50,000 secondhand books, plus new books related to New Orleans, Louisiana, and the South. You'll have a wide range of genres to explore here, but the store has a special emphasis on history, architecture, literature, music, and cooking. They even have an adorable shop cat! If you're a vinyl collector, make sure to visit the third floor to check out their used records.
The Carriage House Bookshop
The Carriage House Bookshop can be found behind the Milton H. Latter Memorial Library, which is located in an Italianate–beaux arts mansion that was gifted to the city in 1948. It's operated by the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library (which hosts other book sales in the city, too), and it's only open three days a week. You'll find great deals on used books, DVDs, and children's books, and sales help fund NOLA libraries, support reading programs, provide scholarships to local librarians, and more.
Crescent City Books
If you're looking for antique books, head straight to Crescent City Books! They're the only ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers of America) bookstore in Louisiana and are known for their high quality tomes and large selection of original prints and maps. Even if you're not searching for rare books, with over 30,000 books in stock (including local books and cheap mysteries), you won't leave empty handed. They have a cute shop kitty, too.
Dauphine Street Books
Dauphine Street Books is a local favorite. They stock a wide variety of used books, from fiction to first editions and everything in between, plus a few new books, too ... all in a charming atmosphere. Don't be surprised if you're greeted by a sweet pup! Tip: As the name suggests, this shop used to be located on Dauphine Street, however they've reopened on Chartres.
New Orleans has two black-owned bookstores, Community Book Center and Baldwin & Co.:
- Community Book Center - The CBC opened in 1983. In addition to books, they also carry a variety of educational materials, art, fabrics, and gifts, and other items made by people of African descent.
- Baldwin & Co. - This newer book shop is a welcome addition to New Orleans literary scene. Along with its well-curated selection of books (including many by James Baldwin), they have a cafe and podcasting studio.
You can read more about both of these shops in the Indie Bookstores section above.
More to Explore
You'll also find over 200 Little Free Libraries in the city! Check out this Little Free Library map to find one, then stop by for a new-to-you book, or to leave a recently read book for someone else to enjoy.
Not sure where to get started? I created a map with all these stores to make it easier for you to find them. Click anywhere on the image below to access the interactive map.
I hope you found a new store or two explore! What is your favorite New Orleans bookstore? Let me know in the comments ... I'd love to hear from you!
Other Things to Do in New Orleans
Are you visiting the city? Now that you've discovered the best bookstores in New Orleans, you can start thinking about the rest of your trip. My New Orleans Travel Guide is the perfect place to start... it has everything you need to know to plan an awesome trip!
Then, check out some of my favorite things to do in NOLA:
- Explore the Garden District. This pretty neighborhood is one of my favorites! If you've never been, read my Garden District guide to learn more, then take my Self-Guided Walking Tour or explore fascinating Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
- Visit a museum. This historic city has so many amazing museums that are worth a visit. I especially love the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the WWII Museum in the Warehouse District, and the quirky Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter.
- Experience Mardi Gras. A Mardi Gras trip is on many a bucket list, but even if you're visiting at another time of year, you can still enjoy the fun at Mardi Gras World.
- Escape the tourists. It's never not touristy in New Orleans. If you need a break from all the people, take the ferry across the river to quiet Algiers Point.
- Deal with the crazy weather. New Orleans is notorious for its bad weather ... it's often hot or rainy, maybe both! Find out how to beat the heat in summer and discover all the best ways to spend a rainy day.
- Grab a bite to eat. If you're traveling with a vegetarian (or vegan), NOLA can be a tricky city. Check out my New Orleans Vegetarian Restaurants guide for tons of spots that will please your whole group (veg or not!)
- Save a buck. New Orleans can get expensive, but not every activity has to be super pricey. This helpful list of free things to do in New Orleans will help you stay on budget.