Seven must-visit independent bookstores in Edmonton

Jul 7 2021, 9:57 pm

Edmonton is home to North America’s largest shopping destination, West Edmonton Mall, which sprawls a whopping 48 city blocks. The mall alone contains more than 800 stores and services, so there’s definitely no shortage of big-box retailers in Alberta’s capital.

Often overlooked, though, are the city’s independently owned and operated stores, and bibliophiles and book lovers will be delighted to know that there’s some awesome indie bookstores dotted around town. From used stores offering classics and rare out-of-print books, to newly opened businesses highlighting queer and racialized writers, these are our 7 favourite independent bookstores in Edmonton.

Glass Bookshop

Courtesy of Glass Bookshop

Glass Bookshop is an independent and queer-owned bookstore that centres work by queer and racialized writers and uplifts writers and independent publishers from Edmonton and beyond. 

Before the pandemic hit, Glass Bookshop partnered with local festivals and arts organizations like, LitFest, Latitude 53, and the Alberta Queer Calendar Project, to host over a dozen events for local and visiting writers in their space.

Glass Bookshop is currently running an online store, offering free and contactless delivery to homes in Edmonton, St. Albert, and Sherwood Park. This indie bookstore has big plans in the months ahead, as they’re currently building out their permanent space in the historic Stovel Block Building, which will be opening in Fall of this year. 

I’m obsessed with the merchandise here. They have a selection of totes, stickers, t-shirts, and enamel pins, that take swipes at the big-box retailers, or feature their unofficial mascot, Bob the Corgi, who belongs to co-owner Matthew Stepanic.

Audreys Books

Courtesy of Audreys Books

Owned and operated by husband and wife Steve and Sharon Budnarchuk, Audreys Books is a great indie bookstore for local and visiting writers to meet readers and book lovers. Their bookstore includes two retail levels with a wide selection of fiction, nonfiction, celebrity memoir, cookbooks, children’s books and graphic novels. 

The staff at Audrey’s are knowledgeable and dedicated individuals happy to help with any request you throw their way. This indie bookstore offers a 25% discount on all Globe & Mail Bestsellers and extra savings for Audreys Book Club members. A lifetime book club membership costs $10 and for every $200 spent, you’ll receive $20 in store credit.

Audreys is known not only for their books, but also for the vast number of readings and literary events that they hold annually, frequently hosting author events in other community venues to increase their reach.

Wee Book Inn

Renee Fisher/Unsplash

Wee Book Inn is one of Edmonton’s most well-known used bookstores, boasting three locations in the city. They’ve been around since 1971, and have been serving up quality used books ever since. 

This independently owned and operated bookstore buys, sells, and trades books of all interests and fiction genres, with a wide selection that gives readers everything from newest releases to rarest first editions and collectables. 

The Edmonton Book Store

Courtesy of The Edmonton Book Store

Owned and operated by Barbara Ellis, The Edmonton Bookstore specializes in rare and out-of-print books about Western Canada, Arctic regions, philosophy, and literature. This place has a jaw-dropping collection of more than 80,000 titles in their inventory, which is forever growing and diversifying.

Located in the heart of historic Old Strathcona on Whyte Avenue, The Edmonton Bookstore has been in business since 1978. Go ahead and get lost in their online store, you never know what you might find.

Mandolin Books and Coffee Company

Courtesy of Mandolin Books & Coffee Company

Another fantastic used bookstore, Mandolin Books and Coffee Company opened their doors in 2003, and has been a treasured gathering place for Edmonton bibliophiles and coffee lovers ever since. The atmosphere at Mandolin is warm, inviting, and cozy, making it the perfect place to read and relax over a steaming cup of locally-roasted Catfish Coffee. 

The book selection here is great, with offerings of high quality used books in both fiction and nonfiction genres. Mandolin is all about supporting other local businesses and artists, and each month they display the original artwork of a different Edmonton artist in the store. This place is a must-visit on your next trip to Edmonton.

Daisy Chain Book Co.

Courtesy of Daisy Chain Book Co.

Founded by Brandi Morpurgo, Daisy Chain Book Co. started out on wheels. Literally! Brandi started collecting inventory, bought a truck, and started selling books from there. The company has since expanded and now has a gorgeous brick and mortar location. 

Daisy Chain houses a large collection of fiction, nonfiction, autobiography and children’s books. Check out the book club here, which usually runs a few times a month. If you want to learn more about Daisy Chain, and books in general, tune into Brandi’s podcast, The Bookshop Chronicles

Alhambra Books

Courtesy of Alhambra Books

Alhambra Books is a fantastic used bookstore on the edge of Old Strathcona with an impressive 60,000 books for sale. Bring your suitcase, because the shelves at this independently owned and operated store are absolutely bursting with books. 

I could spend all day at Alhambra Books, browsing their expansive range of fiction, nonfiction, and history books. You might go in hoping to find one book, and leave with a dozen unexpected novels. This place is heaven for book lovers!

Sean LoughranSean Loughran

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