Seven of the Best Bookstores to Buy Used Books Around Boston

In need of a read? From secondhand novels to gently broken-in paperbacks, these seven used bookstores prove that new isn’t always better.


A beautifully filled bookshelf is something to admire — but it takes a lot of work to get there. And for anyone who enjoys owning books rather than checking them out from the library, a visit to a used bookstore can be a way to fill those lovely shelves without spending too much.

But a good used bookstore is also usually a great repository for oddities and rarities. Sure, you may find a copy of a recent bestseller that someone has already read and discarded, but at their best, used bookstores offer the perfect opportunity to browse and discover the treasure you did not know you needed.

From nonprofits to diversity-focused sellers and bargain cellars, these used bookstores around Boston are paving the way for voracious readers to have the book collections of their dreams.

Books Wonder’s collection of diverse titles. / Photo courtesy of Book Wonder

Book Wonder

Do not be fooled by this bookseller’s petite appearance (it occupies a corner of Medford’s 4GoodVibes gift shop). Its collection of graphic novels and books for all ages is mighty. Book Wonder’s selection focuses on stories that highlight under-represented communities, including people of color, members of the LGBTQ + community, and individuals with disabilities, to name a few — from children’s picture books to young adult fiction. All sales help fund its Little Free Diverse Library in downtown Medford, as well as donations to local classrooms and libraries.

4GoodVibes, 392 Main St., Medford, 617-312-2660, facebook.com/bebookwonder.

Brattle Book Shop’s bargain book carts in Downtown Boston. / Photo by Alex Gagne

Brattle Book Shop

Likely the most photographed bookstore in Boston, the Brattle’s outdoor carts filled with miscellaneous bargain used books are instantly recognizable. In the warmer weather, there’s no reason not to spend an hour or more sifting through the tomes to find a hidden gem. If you’d like a little more organization, inside the three-story shop you can find everything from fiction to history, cookbooks to biographies, and a rare book room filled with first editions, collectibles, and more. There’s maps, prints, and postcards, too, if you’re into pictures rather than just words.

9 West St., Boston, 617-542-0210, brattlebookshop.com.

Brookline Booksmith

If you’re ready for a scavenger hunt, head to Brookline Booksmith. You may not even realize there’s a treasure trove of remainders (or overstock books from publishers), children’s books, and more just under your feet — in the Used Book Cellar, to be more specific. Affordable finds range from recently published popular reads to classics, essay collections, feminist literature, graphic novels, memoirs — we could go on and on. Browse the stacks (or their website, if you do not want to leave the house), and make sure to check back often for new arrivals.

279 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-566-6660, brooklinebooksmith.com.

The shelves at Commonwealth Books. / Photo by @amyandiggs on Instagram

Commonwealth Books

A wide selection of antique prints and maps is yet another reason to visit Commonwealth Books. The first reason is the collection of 40,000+ titles, ranging from mysteries to architecture, the arts and philosophy, all the way to medieval manuscript pages (yes, you read that right). You probably will not find many modern romance novels here, as it leans towards the classics. But who knows, there might be a few bestsellers hidden amongst the shelves. But you’re more likely to find a few leather-bound Charlotte Brontë novels, vintage children’s books, magazines and comics, or niche history and reference books you never knew you wanted to put on your to-be-read list.

9 Spring Ln., Boston, 617-338-6328, commonwealthbooks.com.

Harvard Bookstore

A book basement with steep discounts on everything from how-tos to science fiction, self-help and psychology? Count us in. The aisles at this Harvard Square shop are always bustling, but stake your claim in front of the shelves and scan the spines to your heart’s content. A few times a year, the Harvard Bookstore also hosts an extra big sale at its Somerville warehouse, so be on the lookout for an invitation to shop its carefully curated selection of bargain books, including overstock tomes in like-new condition.

1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-661-1515, harvard.com.

Raven Used Books in Cambridge. / Photo by @jkgabrielle on Instagram

Raven Used Books

Just beyond the hub of activity in Harvard Square is a literary oasis. Head down Church Street and find a red awning-ed storefront just waiting for you to sift through its shelves upon shelves of novels, poetry, and an entire wall dedicated to art books (if you’re in the market for a near-mint coffee table book at a reasonable price). There are plenty of remainder and overstock books, too — which, for non-bibliophiles, are excessively nearly-new inventory from publishers. Your literary snob friends will be none the wiser when you add a few to your shelves.

23 Church St., Cambridge, 617-441-6999, ravencambridge.com.

More Than Words in the South End. / Photo by @tazisbooked on Instagram

More Than Words

What’s even better than gently used books? Ones that give back. More Than Words is a nonprofit that employs Boston’s youth to run its online, retail, and wholesale bookselling programs. It empowers individuals who are homeless, in the foster care system, or court-involved to gain professional experience, and even benefit from a Career Services Program after their work at More Than Words is over. Every purchase — whether it’s a secondhand classic bought on the organization’s website, or a previously owned bestseller from their South End or Waltham storefront — benefits the nonprofit’s mission. Plus, their light-filled space is stocked with desks and plush chairs perfect for getting in a quick read.

242 East Berkeley St., Boston; 56 Felton St., Waltham; 781-788-0035, mtwyouth.org.


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