Your San Diego Independent Bookstore Guide

We’ve rounded up a list of the best San Diego independent bookstores! As e-readers and digital texts continue skyrocket in popularity, local indie shops seem to be falling a bit by the wayside; luckily for all those locals who love paperbacks, San Diego’s indie shops are still going strong. Here’s your guide to all things independently literary in San Diego!

1. Warwick’s

san diego independent bookstore

7812 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

Originally founded in 1896 in Minnesota, Warwick’s is a fourth generation-owned independent bookstore; along with an incredible selection of books, they also offer unique stationary and small gifts. Known for their book signings, Warwick’s makes it a priority to bring some of the best minds in the literary world to their store – Hillary Clinton and David Sedaris have already made appearances here this year. Needless to say, Warwick’s is known as one of the best bookstores in San Diego for a reason!

2. Mysterious Galaxy

san diego independent bookstore

7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111
Mysterious Galaxy is a genre store that specializes in science fiction, mystery, fantasy, and horror and boasts an almost overwhelming selection of books. The staff not only makes it their job to read a majority of the books in the store, but they are one of the few that also have book discussions during staff meetings. If you look closely, you’ll see little handwritten comment cards near some of the books, which is a refreshing personal touch and a welcome change from the big box corporates. They’re open Mon. through Thurs. 10am – 7pm; Friday 10am-8pm; and Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-5pm.

3. DG Wills

san diego independent bookstore

7461 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037
DG Wills Books is one of the only used/antique bookstores in La Jolla and looks exactly how you’d want an antique bookstore to look: high ceilings, wood walls and floors, and shelf upon shelf of dusty books. Dennis Wills, owner and founder, prides himself on carrying the classics; in his words, books “that have passed the test of time.” His dedication to knowledge has drawn scholars, literary critics, students, and professors from universities across the country. The old, antique books you find in his shop won’t be found in big-box, corporate stores. Check out this incredible gem in the village and stay a while. DG Wills is open 10am – 7pm Monday through Saturday and 11am-5pm on Sunday.

SEE ALSOThe History of DG Wills, a La Jolla Treasure

4. Bluestocking Books

san diego independent bookstore

3817 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

Historically, a bluestocking refers to an educated, intellectual woman and typically alludes to a specific group of 18th-century book-loving women led by the hostess and critic Elizabeth Montagu. With a name steeped in such a rich literary history, it’s no wonder that Bluestocking Books maintains its status as one of the best used bookstores in San Diego. They carry all genres, and use a unique credit system for those trading in their own books – you can use your trade-in money towards a certain percentage of what you’re buying. It’s easy to lose several hours perusing Bluestocking’s packed shelves, so set aside a good chunk of time to spare before you go. They are open Mon. through Thurs. from 11am – 7pm and Fri. through Sun. 9am – 9:30pm.

5. Footnote Books

san diego independent bookstore

1627 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103

Quaint, compact and slightly chaotic, Footnote Books is located in Hillcrest and offers an eclectic used book selection. It’s everything one could want in a bookstore – dusty books line the walls and fill shelves floor to ceiling; the floors creak and the smell of musty paper fills the room. Footnote has an incredibly diverse collection and even houses some out-of-print gems, if you peruse carefully enough. There’s also a pretty large assortment of records, comics and old photos. They’re open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:30 am to 8:00 pm, Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, and are closed on Tuesdays.

6. Adams Avenue Bookstore

san diego independent bookstore

3502 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116

Adams Avenue Book Store was established in 1965 and now has an inventory of 60,000 books in over 100 subject categories. They’ve collected everything from first-edition plays and signed copies of well known fiction to coffee table books and photo journals. Books generally range in price from $3-$20. The shop is laid out in sections; if you’re looking for cookbooks, you’ll find them in an actual kitchen upstairs. And be sure to look around for Bartleby, the store cat!



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