5 Great Milwaukee Bookstores

Say no to Amazon and buy a print book in one of these brick-and-mortar shops around town.

The best bookstores are like peaceful islands in a sea of chaos. Escape the bustle of city life and find yourself a fine literary masterpiece to enjoy. Even if you can’t read, just buy a yellowing tome, set it down next to a half-empty mug of coffee and you’ve got yourself an Instagram vignette. Here are a couple of the best bookstores Milwaukee has to offer.

Boswell Book Company

A staple of the Milwaukee literature scene since 2009, Boswell Book Company offers an ideal small bookstore experience. Owner Daniel Goldin took pains to create a bookstore that could survive the digital age and the folding of bookstore giant Borders. The atmosphere is perfect for a little literature/relaxation time, and the extremely knowledgeable booksellers can guide you to whatever book might suit your fancy. They also host a number of writer’s events, where visiting authors discuss their work.
2559 N. Downer Ave.; (414)-332-1181

Downtown Books

Walk into Downtown Books, and you enter a Borgesian labyrinth of shelves stacked far above your head. This massive selection should suit your every need. If you’re the type who enjoys perusing the shelves, then Downtown Books will keep you satisfied for hours. They also purchase used books from customers, so feel free to stop by with some old reads and cash in.
624 N Broadway St; (414) 224-1799

Renaissance Books

When looking for a quaint used bookstore, most people don’t think, “Let’s check the airport!” But they’d be missing Renaissance Books, one of the best used bookstores in the city, which just so happens to be situated in the main terminal of Mitchell International. Unlike many used bookstores, Renaissance is relatively well-organized and sports a comprehensive selection of both used and new books.
5300 S Howell Ave. (Mitchell Airport); (414) 747-4526

photo by Adam Ryan Morris

Voyageur Book Shop

A new addition to the Milwaukee bookstore scene, Voyageur Book Shop is a good spot to go if you’re looking for rare books. They offer a fine selection of antique books, first editions, signed copies — the kind of stuff book-lovers go wild for. Even now, they have a second edition of HP Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror and Others published right in Sauk City, Wisconsin, for only $100.
2212 S Kinnickinnic Ave; (414) 210-3309

The Public Library

The Milwaukee Public Library’s book sales should really be on your radar if you’re a book lover. Plus, they have a fantastic selection available for loan and an awesome rooftop garden.
814 W. Wisconsin Ave; (414) 286-3000
Milwaukee Public Library



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.