A continuing series about awesome social distance activities in DC to keep you entertained during the outbreak and inspired to keep daydreaming about your next adventure in the Nation's capital.
One of our favorite things to do is to wander the aisles of our favorite indie bookstores. Sometimes there's no purpose behind our visit. We aren't necessarily looking for the latest New York Times bestsellers or the latest releases; we've just popped in to browse to see what we discover.
Bookstores are our happy place. Checking out book jackets that catch our eye; adding and removing titles to our Jenga-esque tower of books on the floor as we go deeper into the stacks, and getting lost in the written word, is an escape without a passport or destination. And we always love checking out the staff recommendations and chatting with them, trading book information as eagerly as little kids showing each other our newest toy or game.
Luckily, we don't have to lose the connection to our favorite independent bookstores while we're at home. Due to the impact of COVID, many local bookstores have added curb-side pick-up and are ramping up delivery and shipping to get copies of your new and used picks into your hands as we all quarantine and chill.
Get your read on at our 8 favorite local independent bookstores that are currently offering curb-side pickup, delivery and shipping. Help these small-businesses keep their doors open so check out their offerings for yourself or to give as gifts. Stuck on what book they might like? Gift cards make great gifts too!
NOTE: The information below was correct at the time this article was posted; however, information in these chaotic times is subject to change without notice. Please check the individual websites and/or social media for the respective stores for the latest information about curb-side pickup, delivery and shipping options.
1. Capitol Hill Books
Capitol Hill Books is an employee-owned,used bookstore with three floors of used books, first editions and rare books across three floors of organized chaos. There’s a “Tower of Tolkien” that’s an actual teetering stack of books by the author, and an entire section of books is lodged in the store’s bathroom—to the excessive handwritten signage to the front door, which is covered in rules for would-be customers. Weird Section for those who like witches, dreams, and things that go bump in the night.
The bookstore is closed expect for private appointments but you can still browse a selection of books at home.
Here’s how it works: Email the store, explain what genre you’re interested in and then pay any amount -- $25, $50, $100 or more. Then, Capitol Hill Books will ship you a bag of random selections according to your taste. Free domestic shipping. The store sells primarily used books, but usually features a few new titles in-store and also has a rare book inventory online.
2. East City Bookshop
Founded by local bibliophile after the closing of a neighborhood store, this independent, women-owned bookstore on Capitol Hill is a space takes you back to the days when staff picks and community connections made bookstores feel so special. East City Bookshop promotes local authors to the outside world, or at least to Washington, and hosts regular book events. East City also is very kid-focused, Gillman said. The store holds regular story times for children, and boasts a considerable collection of kids’ books, toys, crafts and gifts.
Curb-Side/Delivery: Local delivery is available or a $2 delivery fee within a 2-mile radius of the shop. Contact the shop or order online and choose "Local Delivery" at checkout. Curbside pick-up is offered Wednesday - Sunday.
3. Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe
A bookstore that takes reservations? The bookstore-restaurant-cafe was the first of its kind when it opened in 1976. With a warm and cozy vibe, you can browse new releases then enjoy reading the first pages over lunch in the restaurant or a glass of wine (and pie!) in the cafe. Located in Dupont Circle, the indie bookstore is neighborhood favorite and a DC institution.
Curb-Side/Delivery: Kramerbooks now offers book delivery with Postmates! Search ‘Kramers Book Delivery’ on the app or click HERE to place your order. Select from new & popular titles, Kramers merch, and even add gift wrapping.
4. Mahogany Books
Making its home in historic Anacostia, Mahogany Books (named for the owners’ daughter) is dedicated to literature “written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora.” The previously online-only store today makes its home within the Anacostia Arts Center and has quickly become a community hub and hotspot for hosting events with the most popular and acclaimed African-American authors. They also hold an extremely popular bookclub in partnership with Very Smart Brothers that is available via livestream monthly.
Special offer: The "Brilliant Black Kids Book Bundle for Young Readers" features three books “curated with the intention of challenging our young readers to think critically about the ideas of race, social justice, and empathy.”
Curb-side Pickup/Delivery: Call ahead curbside pickup is offered Monday - Friday, 12 - 4pm.
5. Politics & Prose
With three locations in the District, Politics & Prose got its name because it was “Washington sounding,” yet not pretentious. It
has a reputation as a literary hot-spot for discussions and readings from acclaimed and celebrity authors. Famous readers at its author events have included politicians such as Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as authors J.K. Rowling and photographer Annie Leibovitz. The incredibly knowledgeable staff is always open to conversation and to help you with your book-purchasing decision, whether it’s for yourself or a friend.
Curb-Side/Delivery: Offering free domestic shipping and call-ahead curbside pickup.
Part bookstore and part cafe, Sankofa was founded by filmmaking duo Haile and Shirikiana Gerima who named it after their acclaimed 1993 film. The film, about the Atlantic slave trade and resistance, was generating international acclaim but no stateside takers. So the Gerimas launched their own campaign to generate interest in the film. The movie's title, which means "going back to our past in order to go forward," resonated when, in 1997, the couple opened their store near Howard University. Part bookstore and part cafe, here you’ll find books and movies focused on the African diaspora -- for adults and kids -- as well as fresh-brewed coffee, smoothies and a Spike Lee panini. Menu items at Sankofa are named for visionary film directors who are committed to telling Black stories.
Curb-side/Delivery: Online shopping and shipping is available.
7. Second Story Books
Located in Dupont Circle, Second Story Books has been a favorite for used and rare book seekers for more than 40 years. They specialize in high quality books, some signed by their Author, and some very definitely "Collectors' Items" with prices reflecting that distinction. You’ll find lots of treasures in a tiny space and in good weather, a wonderfully eclectic and jumbled array of bargain priced books outside on tables and bins.
Special Offer: $24 BOOK BUNDLES from $25 including tote bag (while supplies last): The Quarantine Bundle:
Feeling Lucky Bundle: A random collection of 8 hard and soft cover books in great condition.
Curb-Side/Delivery: Pick-up is available and $5 shipping to anywhere in the US or $10 for next-day delivery to local areas.
8. Solid State Books
Solid State Books is the newest DC destination for avid readers in the NE neighborhood on historic H Street.. Founded by two former Kramerbooks managers, the space is an intellectual space as well as a community hub for newcomers to the city as well as longtime residents. The bookstore features a few elements that make it easy to lose a day or two in. In addition to being the largest bookstore in D.C. in 20 years, with an extensive collection of both fiction and nonfiction, the space also houses a bar for coffee, tea, alcohol and wine. Pair this with their extensive events calendar, it’s easy to see oneself picking up the latest Ta-Nehisi Coates offering, grabbing a coffee, taking in a poetry reading and discussing the merits of Drake vs Pusha-T over rosé and never leaving the store.
Curb-Side/Delivery: Solid State Books is taking orders for curbside pick-up over via email or phone from 10am-6pm.
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Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it