14 independent bookstores you can support in the Columbus area – The Columbus Dispatch

October is National Book Month, which is the perfect occasion for showing your local independent bookstores some love. The Columbus area is home to a variety of options full of personality on the shelves and behind the counters. 
Whether you’re looking for a specific title or just interested in adventurous browsing, there are more than enough shops in the city and the suburbs to meet your needs.
Are you a comic-book lover? There are Eisner award-winning stores for you to visit. Want to support minority business owners? There are Black-owned and female-owned stores that welcome your presence. 
Here are 14 options to explore. 
Shopping is an adventure at this longstanding neighborhood gem. With 32 rooms and an unparalleled selection, the store is unlike any other in the city. You’ll also find a hearty collection of bookmarks, puzzles, greeting cards and other merchandise. 
Aesthetically, the Book Loft brings an historic charm with its pre-Civil War-era buildings and courtyard, which is adorned with an array of flowers and trees. The store is truly a high point on walking tours in picturesque German Village.
More:With building sale, German Village Book Loft starts new chapter
Owner Dan Brewster blessed the Short North by opening the first independent bookstore in the neighborhood in more than a decade. And he recently recruited beloved bookseller Gary Lovely from German Village Book Loft to help run the shop.
In addition to providing a great book selection, Brewster was intentional about making the 1,100-square-foot space appealing. 
“These days you can’t open a new store and have it look very generic,” he said in an interview. “You have to be unique and special and, I hate to say it, Instagram appealing, a place I want people to know I was visiting.”
More: Computer scientist moves back to Ohio to open bookstore in Short North
Karen Wickliff’s career as a used bookseller began in the early ’70s in a book booth in Eastland Mall. Decades later, she is still running a book business in Clintonville.
With tens of thousands of books on shelves — and in piles elsewhere — the eclectic shop is a local favorite.
So, how has she weathered a volatile industry?
“I didn’t know whether to answer I’m the biggest fool of them all or if I’m obsessive or if I’d just figured out how to do it,” she said in an interview. 
More: ‘You can get lost in there’ — Karen Wickliff Books specializes in pretty much everything
Phoenix Books is not for everyone, but the perfect spot for those with unique spiritual interests. According to the website, the shop integrates eastern and western thought, along with metaphysical and scientific disciplines, to help patrons achieve balance. 
Where else are you going to find an indie bookstore, bar and vegan cafe all in one location? Two Dollar Radio Headquarters is covering multiple bases in the South Side neighborhood.
As if that weren’t impressive enough, the establishment is actually the brick-and-mortar location of an indie press, which has published books by renowned authors such as Columbus native Hanif Abdurraqib. Two Dollar Radio also hosts events and book clubs. 
Restaurant review: Publisher wrote the book on tasty local vegan fare
Zawadi Books is a Black-owned, family-owned business that has been operating for decades on the Near East Side. The shop offers a selection of books celebrating Black culture as well as other products. 
In addition to carrying a wide variety of books for children and young adults, Cover to Cover stands out because of its excellent customer service. Staff members are warm and eager to assist little ones with finding the perfect text to spark their imagination.
The store also is committed to diversity, offering prominent displays of books for children of color. 
More:Cover to Cover Bookstore Aims to Inspire Children’s Imaginations
Beginning as a teacher supply store, Beanbag books is now primarily a children’s book shop with a selection of toys, puzzles and games. The business is owned by Jody Everett, who has a background in speech-language pathology, and Michael Everett. 
It’s comforting to know your neighborhood bookstore is owned by an acclaimed author. Linda Kass also curates all of the engaging author events at the shop.
With a name that translates to “many thanks,” Gramercy Books is curated with love, and provides a cozy space to soak up knowledge in the Bexley neighborhood. 
More:Bexley author, bookstore owner Linda Kass has it all covered
Nicholas Hood has kept Paperback Exchange alive amid the pandemic; he purchased the store following the retirement of former owner Leanne McClellan. While some worried he would turn the space into another type of business, he has dispelled those concerns.
“We are firm believers that a bookstore makes the community smarter, wiser,” Hood said in an interview. “It assists in our communication. It’s truly necessary in this community and the fabric of this community.”
More:Paperback Exchange new owner Nicholas Hood said the business will always be a bookstore
Another Black-owned, longtime community store in the city, Alkebulan Ujaama “specializes in books of facts that transform all readers into the subject of their reality rather than objects,” according to its Facebook page.
Husband-and-wife Allen and Nia Harrington opened the Gahanna comics store in 2018. As a Black-owned business, it’s important for the duo to serve an “all-inclusive” customer base.
“There’s a lot of Black nerds here who just need that outlet,” Allen Harrington said in an interview. “Some people don’t feel comfortable going to every comics store because there’s a stigma that everybody is the Comic Book Guy from ‘The Simpsons,’ like we’re all stuck up and elitist and not willing to share knowledge. That’s not us.”
Be sure to check out the store’s live monthly sales via Facebook
More: Husband-wife duo opens new comics shop in Gahanna
The Eisner award-winning comics store is beloved by buyers and comic creators. It has in-store functions with artists and a genuine local comics section.
Additionally, the business is known for an impressive back catalog and top-notch service. It is a true collectors’ shop.
More:Clintonville’s Laughing Ogre wins coveted Eisner Spirit prize for comics retailers
Growing up in Hilliard, Jamie Colegrove struggled to find comics beyond a rack in a local gas station. He decided to fill the gaps as an adult by opening Packrat Comics, now co-owned by Teresa Colegrove. 
A recipient of the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, Packrat Comics is known for its community engagement.
“We realized that being a good retailer and being a good citizen in the community required us to reach beyond our doors,” Teresa Colegrove said in an interview. 
More: Hilliard’s Packrat Comics attracting enthusiasts from near and far
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