Top Bookstores in Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C. is best known as the home of the United States federal government, major international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and a high concentration of lobbyists and consultancies. Aside from the crowds of suits that dominate the city center during the week, tourists, and a steady stream of eighth-graders on a field trip to the capital, the city has a surprising number of well-established, independent bookstores.

” Top Bookstores in Washington, DC “


Politics and Prose

Politics and Prose is a local institution based in Chevy Chase, north of Washington, D.C., with additional locations now open at Union Market and The Wharf. The large store has a large collection and a knowledgeable staff, as well as a coffeehouse downstairs. The events calendar is extensive, with talks almost every day across the three stores, as well as daytime activities for children and families.

LOCATION:  5015 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008


Kramerbooks & Afterwords

Kramerbooks (the bookstore) and Afterwords (the cafe) have a smaller location just north of Dupont Circle, but it is jam-packed with books, with a focus on politics and current events. Book clubs are held on a regular basis in collaboration with the Women’s National Book Association and the Brookings Institution. Kramerbooks, unlike the other recommendations here, is almost always open: from 7.30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily, and until 3 a.m. on weekends.

LOCATION: 1517 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

The Lantern Bookshop

For those who are overwhelmed by the potential distractions of brunch and book launches at P&P and Kramers, The Lantern, tucked away on a Georgetown side street, only sells books. The shop is run by volunteers – mostly Bryn Mawr College alumni – and has a diverse collection covering politics, history, philosophy, and travel spread across two floors of a rowhouse.

LOCATION: 3241 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20007


Second Story Books

Second Story Books, which specializes in rare and out-of-print books, also has a much simpler offering. Established in 1973, they have over 500,000 books in stock – anything that doesn’t fit in the Dupont Circle store is stored in a warehouse in Rockville, MD. There are frequent book sales, and sidewalk sales, in particular, are a great way to get a good deal.

LOCATION: 2000 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20036


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