Atlanta Vintage Books owners Jan Bolgla and Bob Roarty. (Photos by Donna P. Williams)

Metro Atlanta is a city full of readers and book lovers. Many of us have special memories tied to stores that once served our communities, like Oxford Books, Borders, and Outwrite Bookstore. While we still miss them, there are plenty of places to find that perfect read, and sometimes, that perfect memory in print.

Atlanta Vintage Books
3660 Clairmont Road, Atlanta 30341

Atlanta Vintage Books has been open for more than 30 years, and it’s a prime example of an independent, neighborhood bookstore. Located in the Brookhaven/Chamblee community, it houses a collection of 75,000 vintage, collectible, and used books within its 5,000 square feet.

Owners Jan Bolgla and Bob Roarty carefully curate each section, enticing customers to return again and again to find the latest additions. What’s most important, according to Bolgla, is that the shop is “a welcoming environment with helpful, knowledgeable employees,” and cats. “Our cats — Big Boo, Little Boo, and Mickey — are part of our bookstore family.”

The couple has owned Atlanta Vintage Books for the last 15 years. “Bob had been working in the printing business for 30 years and I owned a graphic design company. We were both experiencing a bit of burnout,” Bolgla explained.

In 2007, they saw an ad for a vintage bookstore that was for sale. “Bob and I have always loved books,” she said. “We knew we would regret it if we didn’t go for it. Who wouldn’t want to own a bookstore?”

The shop is known for its extensive selection of books in all genres and subjects. It offers everything from everyday reading material to collectible first editions and signed copies.

“Our huge History Room is very popular,” Bolgla pointed out. “Our Radical Literature section is unique, and our Ephemera section is filled with vintage magazines, newspapers, photographs, and other rare pieces of history.”

She added that Atlanta Vintage Books is proud to be a community center for knowledge. “It’s simply stated in our motto,” she said. “Exercise Your Mind… Read!”

Atlanta Vintage Books’ Bob Roarty does work while Big Boo lounges.

Book Nook
3073 Druid Hills Road, Decatur 30033

While Book Nook is a chain of used bookshops, individual stores are managed locally by their staff members, so they tend to better reflect and connect with their communities. There are two other Book Nook locations in the Atlanta area — Lilburn and Marietta.

The Decatur store carries “…a little bit of everything. If you can think of it, we probably have it, including a small selection of foreign language books,” said Book Nook’s Marc Mills.

He added that they’re known to special order new book titles for customers. “Generally, we get those in within five to seven days, except for pre-releases, of course,” Mills noted. 

Book Nook offers a wide variety of other used media, too — DVDs, Blu-ray discs, CDs, and some vinyl. Visitors can also find used audiobooks, comic books, video games, and even second-hand jigsaw puzzles and board games.

Eagle Eye Book Shop
2076 Decatur Road, Decatur 30033

Eagle Eye Book Shop’s motto is “A Great Eye for Good Books,” but it’s also known in the community as a store that welcomes readers and their families with books, games and toys. Customers are encouraged to explore the aisles of bookshelves and then settle into a cozy spot to read.

Located within a mile of Emory University, the store covers about 5,000 square feet stocked with new, used, signed and collectible books. The selection is strong in general fiction, sci-fi and Southern fiction and history.

Eagle Eye was founded by Doug and Diane Robinson in 2003; they were later joined by co-owner Charles Robinson. Their website states that their mission includes, “Helping every customer find just the right book for enriching the personal, educational and professional experience of our customers.”

Here are a few more used bookstores that are well worth the visit.

Eagle Eye Bookstore’s Charles Robinson.

A Capella Books
208 Haralson Avenue, Atlanta 30307 

The Inman Park shop stocks new and used books, common and uncommon. A Capella also has hard-to-find, collectible and antiquarian books, as well as a good selection of signed first editions.

1390 McLendon Avenue, Atlanta 30307

BiblioTech is known as a little shop with a big selection and a surprising range of interesting and rare books. The selection spans classics and popular titles to more obscure works and includes works in philosophy, religion, music and poetry. The shop is a perfect fit in an academic part of town that’s filled with little free libraries.

1188 Glenwood Avenue, Atlanta 30316

The East Atlanta Village bookstore’s slogan is “Every Story Matters,” and it has shelves filled with new and used books. The staff is happy to let readers browse, make suggestions, or take special orders.

For Keeps Books
171 Auburn Avenue, Atlanta 30303

For Keeps specializes in Black rare and classic books. Shop hours are limited, but readers can check out the website for an impressive list of publications.

Half Price Books
2615 Decatur Road, Decatur 30033
1205 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta 30068

Half Price Books has used, collectible and signed books, as well as other used media including music, puzzles, movies and TV shows.

Sonny Ideker, Rare and Antiquarian Bookseller
700 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell 30076

This bookseller, located in City Antiques and Interiors, features an eclectic mix of decorative and general antiquarian books in various languages — 1,500 in English — that range in date from 1502 to 1987. 

Kathy Dean is a freelance writer and editor based in metro Atlanta.