Watch out online retailers: you can’t beat this brick and mortar bookstore.

Open since 1973, this three-story powerhouse is a Pearl Street Mall staple and neighborhood icon. The minimalist exterior (the sign outside the store is a testament to directness: written in chunky caps, the word “BOOKSTORE,” hovers above black gridded windows) differs from the garish, if somewhat outlandish interior. For one, the bookstore is enormous; it boasts three fully-stocked stories of books, videos, and gadgets, with each floor offering a different layout and atmosphere.

“The Ballroom,” Photo Courtesy of Guernica Magazine

The main level houses fiction and nonfiction best-sellers, employee favorites, magazines, children’s books and two wooden staircases leading to completely different worlds. My favorite floor is the top level converted ballroom, whose ambiance is akin to the ballroom scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The large arched windows stream natural light onto the books, with rows of steps separating the shelves from the dance floor. The experience of picking out books in such a romantic setting can’t be replicated by even the best UI design. The basement level, by contrast, is low and long and fluorescent, like a kind of secret hangout. What connects the three levels is a commitment to fullness; every space, whether wall-hugging shelves or long tables, is covered with books.

Online reviews of the bookstore are peppered with phrases like “you could get lost in here” or “each level takes you to a different world.” However, as chaotic as it sounds, the store is incredibly well organized and easy to navigate. Signs and arrows direct Bookies from one section to another and the employees are always nice and accommodating to the weary traveler.

The Boulder community is lucky to have a thriving literary scene full of bookstores and libraries fed by a community of college students, families, and intellectuals. The Boulder Book Store is the best the city has to offer.

Speed Round: 5 More Reasons Why this Bookstore is My Favorite

Photo Courtesy of Yelp

1) Inclusive and Large Selection of Books

This bookstore has amazing reads on every imaginable topic. From nutrition to women’s issues to Buddhism to computer science, this store has it. I love the large selection of LGBTQIA books on the bottom floor. This store is truly a representation of Boulder’s diverse community.

2) The Sales

They always have plenty of books on sale, making collecting books an accessible hobby for us broke nerds.

3) The Savvy Staff

The staff’s recommended books are always winners. Their good taste saves you from having to read the back of every interesting book you didn’t hear about on NPR.

4) Early Bird and Evening Hours

The store is open from 10 AM-10 PM Monday through Saturday and 10 AM-8 PM on Sundays. You can beat the crowds in the morning, explore during lunch, or do some après-dinner shopping.

5) Book Club

They have a free and open to the public book club that meets once a month for anyone looking to meet more paper-minded folks.

Upcoming Events @ Boulder’s Best Book Store

Jessamyn Stanley — “Every Body Yoga”

04/19/2017 – 7:30pm

R. Reid — “A Fine Mess”

04/20/2017 – 7:30pm

Judith Orloff — “The Empath’s Survival Guide”

04/25/2017 – 7:30pm

From Our Shelves Fiction Bookclub — “The Portable Veblen”

04/26/2017 – 7:00pm

Katy Caballeros moved to Boulder from Grand Rapids, MI. She studied English and writing at Aquinas College and pursued a liberal arts career path gone crooked, occupying jobs ranging from telemarketer to kindergarten phonics tutor. Passionate about local advocacy, Katy admires Boulder’s proclivity towards progress, scholarship, and environmentalism. When she isn’t writing or listening to KUNC, Katy likes to explore local cafes and bookstores with her partner, Em. Passionate about motivating young people, Katy is an assistant coach for the Boulder High School cheerleading team (Go Panthers!). Grateful to be welcomed into the Boulder community, Katy wants to give back by informing Boulderites about the best places to play and visit in their community.