Top 5 Independently Owned Bookstores in Hamilton


Published August 22, 2019 at 5:20 pm

The literary scene in Hamilton is thriving these days, fuelled by our institutions of higher learning, our local authors and events dedicated to celebrating the power of words.

The city is home to a number of bookstores who support that passion for books and while we do have a lot of big chain bookstores there are a surprising number of independently owned shops dedicated to providing Hamiltonians access to local and Canadian authors in an affordable and personalized way.

Below are the Top 5 Independently Owned Bookstores in Hamilton.

5. J.H. Gordon Books

This boutique bookshop carries gently used literary fiction, literature, Science Fiction and Fantasy, and scholarly and general non-fiction titles and more. They boast a mix of new books, chosen from small and medium-sized publishing houses, who focus on local writers. The store, located in the International Village, is tidy, well-appointed, bright and welcoming. Prices are very reasonable and they offer a decent selection of titles so that one can find something for all ages and interests.

4. Westside Stories

This quaint shop specializes in out-of-print, hard-to-find, rare and used books. The store’s owner, Lyn, has a reputation for not only being lovely, but also very well informed in all things related to books (and more!) and for being resourceful in tracking down rare, and hard-to-find titles. The shop, located in Westdale, is cosy and eclectic and a delightfully inviting space for one to wander and explore. The selection is massive (72 categories of books, according to the website) and is well organized which makes for easy navigation through the sea of books.

3. The City & the City Books

This tidy little store on Ottawa Street is new to the scene having just opened in May. It is a new and used bookstore and they also sell magazines, socks, notebooks, cards, and other gifts. The shop is pretty small but for its size, it boasts a rather impressive selection and everything is very reasonably priced. This shop also hosts a book club at local eatery The Hearty Hooligan, and participants get 15 per cent off the title being discussed. The owners are incredibly helpful and informed and they are very supportive of the Crownpoint business community. It’s early days, but it seems The City & the City Books is well on its way to becoming an Ottawa Street favourite and fixture.

2. Epic Books

Located in the heart of Locke, this bright little shop is known for their unique titles and their support and promotion of Canadian authors. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and very helpful — if you’re looking for a Christmas present for the bibliophile in your life and don’t know where to begin, this is a great place to start. They also host monthly books clubs where participants get 15 per cent off the title of the month. They have an impressive children’s section filled with wonderfully unique titles you won’t find in the big chain stores. This little shop is comfortable and cosy and is a wonderful place to quietly explore the printed word.

1. James Street Bookseller and Gallery

This is perhaps the prettiest store on the list. It’s hard not to fall in love with this space because it’s like a movie set but better. Tons of natural light streams through the stunning stained glass transoms above the entryway and seasonally adorned front display window. The gleaming hardwood floors, bookshelves, antique light fixtures and vintage decor give the space a cosy and magical feeling. The selection of new and used books is carefully curated, so while the collection may not boast the most variety in terms of titles or categories, what they do have is the cream of the crop. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, the owner is known to be helpful in tracking it down. The store also sells vintage fountain pens, artwork by local artists and curios.

Honourable mentions:

What are your favourite Hamilton bookstores?


  1. James Street Bookseller
  2. Epic Books
  3. The City & The City Books
  4. Westside Stories
  5. J.H. Gordon Books
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