Buffalo Niagara is full of idiosyncratic independently-owned bookstores. On the prowl for that new novel? Check out our list of independent bookstores in Buffalo Niagara.

by Max Fisher

Depending on who you ask, books & bookstores never went out of style, and occupy unique spaces all their own well into the digital era

The Best Things in Life are Small

If you’re anything like me, you get a slight but nevertheless potent thrill when you hear the slow cracking noise that accompanies the opening of a new hardcover. The noise just comes from the book’s spine being stretched out, but to me, it’s the telltale sign that I’m about to delve into something new. The constant search for something new is incredibly important to me (admittedly, I have a short attention span,), which always leaves me craving something else as soon as I finish what I currently have. It can be challenging, always looking for your new literary fix. In times like these, that urge has increased tenfold.

Still, despite my desire to quench this seemingly endless thirst, I don’t go to big corporations like Amazon (despite the ease and vast selection, not to mention the ludicrously fast shipping); instead, I’d rather satisfy my literary hunger from a homegrown source, one of the great independent bookstores in Buffalo Niagara.

With that in mind, we have set out to put together the definitive list of independent bookstores in Buffalo Niagara.

When you enter Talking Leaves…Books, you will instantly be taken aback by just how cozy the place feels

A Nook like No Other

Talking Leaves…Books is one of my go-to spots (Elmwood again? surprise, surprise). I’ve been going there for years, and it’s just become one of my regular haunts. It’s not the biggest store ever. They don’t have some crazy claim to fame book like a first edition Don Quixote, sitting under glass in the front room surrounded by invisible lasers and Green Berets. They don’t even have a coffee machine inside for public use. (Although there is a coffee shop next door). No, what Talking Leaves…Books lacks in bombast, it makes up with in the little things. Like allowing appointments for those who just want to browse the store without worrying about large crowds or providing a mask for those who don’t have one (provided you call ahead of time saying you need one, because who hasn’t had a sudden hankering for something new to read while walking down the street? Mask or no mask). And, of course, they have curbside pickup.

When you enter the store, you will instantly be taken aback by just how cozy the place feels, with its mostly wood aesthetic bringing to mind a calm and relaxing feeling. It’s simplistic but effective in presenting itself as an almost nook of a place. Like with any store looking to turn a profit, you need good employees, and Talking Leaves…Books indeed has them. Still, these are not merely salesmen and women ready to pounce on you with the new and expensive book of the week. Instead, these are well-read, kind people who are much more interested in steering you towards something you’d enjoy than over-inflating your expectations about some 800-page tome of a hardcover for $35.99 (man, those hardcovers can be expensive).

Talking Leaves…Books not being a big chain frees it from a lot of the tedium that comes with more prominent outlets. For instance, take this with Talking Leave’s smaller selection of titles compared to a big box store. It’s more likely that the employee you talk to, hoping to inquire about this or that book or author, has actually read that book or is familiar with that author’s work. It’s a small thing, but it goes a long way. If you’re dealing with Amazon, your basically just dealing with yourself and a cold, fake corporate cheeriness from the homepage to wherever you go on the site, and the only bit of human contact you get is through the often faceless customer reviews. In the case of Barnes and Noble … sure they have easy chairs and coffee, but do you think the majority of people working there can tell me what James Baldwin’s second book is? I think not (that’s not the name of his second book, by the way).

History comes to life at Old Editions Bookshop & Gallery

Talking Leaves…Books’ smaller size gives you the feeling that finding a book can be an enjoyable journey as well as a bit of an intimate one. Let’s be honest, whether they are alive or dead, voracious readers tend to hold their favorite authors in the same regard as friends or family, even if the only time they’ve seen them was through the author’s photo on the back of their overpriced hardcover (man, did I mention how expensive those hardcovers can be?) Knowing that the person you’re talking to is knowledgeable about the contents in the store and amassed a wealth of knowledge about literature in general, it puts your mind at ease because if he or she can’t help you find what you’re looking for, they can most likely take you down a path of unexpected discovery depending on the details you gave about your reading tastes.

Believe it or not, the employees at Talking Leaves…Books are voracious readers themselves (shocker I know; rumor has it you have to read War and Peace before you even get an interview). So, you can rest assured that whatever questions or concerns you may have from Charles Dickens to Joan Didion and everything in between will at the very least usher a thoughtful response.

Happy Reading

Books are not the gangbusters medium they once were, and it’s doubtful they ever will be again. Regardless if literary superstars and their resulting literary efforts generating excitement is a thing of a bygone era, it’s still great to see that the independent bookstores in Buffalo Niagara, despite the evident downsizing from its heyday, are still thriving, giving people that human element in a world where that contact is being replaced by a cold screen. Books will never go away no matter how digitized our world gets, so it’s good to know places like Talking Leaves…Books or the Book Corner will be there as a sort of counterbalance, offering wisdom and a smile to amateur and hard-core readers alike.

So even if you don’t like reading (or maybe you just think you don’t), my advice is at least check out your local independent bookstores in Buffalo Niagara, browse the selections, have an idea of what you want or what you’d like to learn, and ask someone working what they have or what they’d recommend. Who knows you might have just taken the first step in a new journey. Happy spine cracking! (Did I mention how expensive those hardcovers can be, sheesh?) Have fun browsing our list of independent bookstores in Buffalo Niagara and happy reading!

Independent Bookstores in Buffalo Niagara


What do you think of our list of independent bookstores in Buffalo Niagara? Did we miss or leave out any information? Let us know.