I am a bookworm of fantastic proportions, so I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’m excited to write this article! Nova Scotia’s got a proud tradition both of authors and readers, and these bookstores exist to celebrate both. Some of these stores focused on used materials, while others have all the newest releases. Some of them have a specific focus, like comics or children’s books, while others have more variety; some sell much more than just books! Whichever place you choose to visit, you’re supporting a local bookstore with your business and filling up your bookshelves at the same time, and that’s two great things at the same time.
Antigonish Five to a Dollar
This is a fascinating store, because it would probably take less time to list what they don’t sell. This variety store’s wares don’t cost 5 cents to a dollar anymore (wouldn’t that be nice), but they do have quality products, several of which are local. In between the textile crafts supplies, toys, clothing, and photography supplies, you’ll find their “Local Authors” section. With a great selection of everything from picture books to adult non-fiction, this is the perfect place to try out a new local author.
Where: 245 Main Street, Antigonish
Contact Details: 902-863-5664
Bainton’s Tannery Outlet
Annapolis Royal is one of the oldest settlements in Canada, and was once the capital of Nova Scotia. Bainton’s Tannery wants to highlight every aspect of that history, and extends that coverage to the history of Nova Scotia in general. They have books about the Acadians, Native heritage, the Bay of Fundy, and guides to outdoor activities in Nova Scotia. While you’re there, you should check out their major purpose: being a tannery which sells leather products like jackets, handbags, and more.
Where: 213 Saint George Street, Annapolis Royal
Contact Details: 902-532-2070 or 1-800-565-2070
Block Shop Books
Block Shop Books is a very young bookstore, opening first in 2015 as Lexicon Books and then reopening as Block Shop in 2020. Owners Jo and Anne-Marie have created a community-minded space that includes book clubs for locals and book launches for local authors. Block Shop strives to amplify diverse voices, so you’ll find a great variety of authors as well as types of books. The store is beautiful (and even has a piano), so you should absolutely come and see what this wonderful store has to offer!
Where: 125 Montague Street, Lunenburg
Contact Details: 902-634-4015
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Blue Griffin Books
I like the image of a Blue Griffin, especially as Blue Griffin books has chosen to blue-ify the griffin on the Nova Scotia flag. Makes sense for Bluenosers! But I digress. Blue Griffin Books is a used bookstore and has a great variety of books on offer. They have several historical books on offer, so it’s a great place to go if you want to take a deep dive into Nova Scotian history. Keep an eye on their Facebook page too because they’re quick to announce when they get collections of series or of a particular author.
Where: 68 Commercial Street, Middleton
Contact Details: 902-363-2665
Bookmark Halifax was established in 1989, and continues to demonstrate the benefits of an independent bookstore to this day. Their store is neatly crammed with books of all kinds, and their truly knowledgeable staff can help you find what your heart desires either in the store or in their enormous online catalogue. You can also find notebooks, fountain pens, and bookworm-related gift items here, so you can satisfy the writer on your list too! If it’s a nice day when you visit, take your new book(s) to the Public Gardens just diagonal to the store and read under a tree by the ducks!
Where: 5686 Spring Garden Road, Halifax
Contact Details: 902-423-0419
Cape & Cowl Comics and Collectibles
To the get-to-Lower-Sackville-mobile! Cape & Cowl offers a tremendous selection of comics and collectibles, and though they’re new on the scene they’re quickly gaining a reputation as a unique and fun shopping experience. They’re doing even more than that though—they’re a proud LGBTQIA+ safe space for youth, named for real-life hero Leighann Wichman. This store makes strides in providing a friendly shopping experience for geeks of all identities, and that’s really super!
Where: 622 Sackville Drive, Lower Sackville
Contact Details: 902-252-3452
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Cape Breton Books
This entry is interesting because technically it’s not a bookstore, but it is a local place where they sell books, so I think it counts! Cape Breton Books is actually a publisher that covers all kinds of Nova Scotian-related subjects and authors. You’ll find Nova Scotian fiction, nonfiction, folklore, poetry, and even some e-books! You can purchase several of these books at the bookstores on this list, or you can visit this local-focused digital bookstore and order straight from the publisher!
Contact Details: 1-800-565-5140
Dartmouth Book Exchange
Where: 1187A Cole Harbour Road, Dartmouth
Contact Details: 902-435-1207
Ed’s Books & More
Ed’s Books & More sells just that: books and more! There are hundreds of books to choose from that cross all genres and age groups of course, but you’ll also find comics and vintage magazines if you want more variety in your reading material. You’ll also find LPs, CDs, and cassettes for music, DVDs for watching, and a whole bunch of collectables for collecting! They also have live music from time to time, as well as products from other local stores.
Note: Ed’s is currently closed due to COVID-19, but they do plan on reopening so keep an eye out!
Where: 331 Charlotte Street, Sydney, Cape Breton
Contact Details: 902-564-2665
Endless Shores Books
It’s always great to visit the Valley, but it gets hot there in the summer, so why not go to Endless Shores and stay inside with new books on a comfy sofa? Endless Shores offers a mix of used and new books, with everything from woodworking to education and more. You can also find puzzles and CDs and DVDs on their shelves, so it’s all down to what kind of media you want to take home. Support local authors with their consignment service, and find a new favourite to enjoy both in their comfy seating area and at home.
Where: 279 Granville Street, East Bridgetown
Contact Details: 902-665-2029
Fictionfirst Used Books
Fictionfirst is a used bookstore with a focus, the only one on this list actually. It’s a small business that specializes in science fiction and fantasy, but if you’re at all familiar with those genres you’ll know that there’s quite a variety to be had. They have graphic novels, classic and new sci-fi and fantasy novels, and even roleplaying manuals for RPGs (and not just for Dungeons and Dragons!) If you’re always looking for a new adventure, you’d better make a beeline for Fictionfirst.
Where: 1506 Meghan Drive, Coldbrook
Contact Details: 902-538-5888
Giant Robot Comics
Giant Robot Comics is your Dartmouth stop for comics and nerd gear of all kinds (I say this as a very proud nerd). They’ve got toys and figurines from classics like Transformers all the way up to the latest comic book figures. They’ve also got weekly events for roleplaying games and board game nights, so you may become a frequent guess. Also I haven’t seen the giant robot, but maybe it’s a Transformer that turns into a comic bookstore?
Where: 114 Woodlawn Road, Dartmouth
Contact Details: 902-404-8400
The Inside Story
The Inside Story is the perfect place for gift shopping in Greenwood. Not only do they have a great selection of books (watch their social media for announcements), but they also have products like adorable stuffed animals and puzzles for all experience levels. As for gifting, the Inside Story is also an official Hallmark store. This means they carry Hallmark products like giftwrap, cards, and even ornaments. If there’s a holiday coming up, come here to check the bookworms off your list.
Where: 1016 Central Avenue, Greenwood
Contact Details: 902-675-6116
John W. Doull Books
Have you ever been in a used bookstore that’s crammed with books on every possible shelf and surface? Well, probably, but have you ever been to one that’s crammed and organized? Probably not, those are rarer. J.W.D. Books has accomplished this though, so your trip can very well become much longer as you examine all they have to offer. In addition to the usual used bookstore treasures, they also have antiquarian and rare editions, so check out their catalogue if you’ve got some hard-to-find ones on your list. Going here is an (at least) annual tradition for my Dad and I, and I’m sure it’ll become a tradition
Where: 122 Main Street, Dartmouth
Contact Details: 902-429-1652
King’s Co-Op Bookstore
Ah, the bookstore of my alma mater. While you might think it’s odd to go shopping on a campus bookstore, King’s Co-op prides itself on offering books and merchandise for a wide variety of customers (though I will admit you will enjoy yourself more if you went to King’s or love the liberal arts). Pick up books written by King’s alumni and profs, check out the latest prize-winning literature, and even buy your favourite philosopher as a puppet!
Where: 6350 Coburg Road, Halifax
Contact Details: 902-422-1271
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LaHave River Books
I am going to the LaHave River bookstore as soon as I can because it has a patio and a wharf and that is amazing. This is a smaller bookshop, located in the LaHave Bakery building (which means pastries and new books, so double win). It was actually opened by Gael Watson and Andra White; the former is the owner of the LaHave bakery, and the latter is the bookkeeper for the same business. If they don’t have a book in stock, they can order it for you, and once you’ve paid for it you can sit outside on a sunny day and watch the river as you read your book and enjoy your baked goods. Who said multi-tasking was always unpleasant?
Where: 3421 Route 331, LaHave
Contact Details: 902-688-1855
Lunenburg Bound is a beautiful bookstore that is sure to have you setting out, Lunenburg-bound. They offer a mixture of new and used books, so it’s friendly for any budget. They also sell quality paper products including artisan leather notebooks and signature notebooks from several famous figures. They’ve even got some toys and games in store, so you’re bound to find something you like in Lunenburg.
Where: 139 Montague Street, Lunenburg
Contact Details: 902-634-3235
Mable Murple’s World
This bookstore is reopening soon, so keep your eyes open! Mable Murple’s is the brainchild of Sheree Fitch, one of the best-known and best-loved children’s authors in Nova Scotia. Focusing on local offerings for kids and grownups alike, the store is designed to create a fun shopping experience in itself! It’s a great way to shop local while supporting local storytellers, and I’m delighted that they plan to reopen this summer. I need to get a new copy of Sleeping Dragons All Around…
On Paper Books
On Paper Books is finally open, and I am so excited! It’s a brand-new independent bookstore in Sydney, Cape Breton, and they’re coming in hot with great new offerings. You can find both new and used books here, and it’s clear from their social media that they highlight new literary events and challenges all the time. Stop in to greet the newest member of the independent bookstore family of Nova Scotia—I’m sure they’re going to do great!
Where: 311 Charlotte Street, Sydney, Cape Breton
Otis & Clementine’s Books & Coffee
This used bookstore has many things to recommend it. First: the books are in good shape, well displayed, and they have a huge kid’s section that has a great time range (I found some I haven’t seen in ages!) Second: They have a café with fair trade coffee and delicious snacks. Third: they frequently foster cats and kittens there, so you’re going to make some furry friends while you browse! With all that to recommend it, Otis & Clementine’s is a treasure I was delighted to learn about last year, and I plan to make a visit soon, likely with my cat-loving aunt.
Where: 5209 St. Margaret’s Bay Road, Upper Tantallon
Contact Details: 902-826-1823
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Strange Adventures Comics & Curiosities
Strange Adventures has locations in Halifax, Dartmouth, and even in Fredericton, and you’ve been able to pick up your nerd supplies there since 1992, making it one of the oldest comics bookstores in Canada. The bulk of their business is comic books both old and new, but they also have an impressive collection of graphic novels, toys, manga, board games, and more. The staff are ready to help you find your next favourite read, whether you’re new to comics, own thousands of them, or even for baby nerds who are just learning how to read and enjoy comic books and the amazing characters that grace their pages.
Where: 5110 Prince Street, Halifax 902-425-2140
101 Portland Street, Dartmouth 902-444-2140
Tattletales Books and Toys
Tattletales is a children’s bookstore as charming as the origin of their name: “we can’t keep secrets, spreading stories is our business!” They cover the kid’s book range from infants up to young adults, so it’s a fantastic family outing. If you’re a teacher, they’ve also got a resource section just for you, including advice on finding the perfect books for your class to enjoy. And of course, the other half of their name is toys, and you’ll find a great range of toy lines that include Folkmanis Puppets, Manhattan Toy, and Playmobil.
Where: 114 Woodlawn Road Unit 38, Dartmouth
Contact Details: 902-463-5551
Trident Booksellers and Café
If you’ve ever walked down Hollis Street in Halifax, you may very well have walked past Trident Booksellers and Café. Once you go inside though, I guarantee from personal experience you’ll never be able to just walk past it again. This used bookstore has a large selection for such a small space, and the prices are unbeatable, even for the small selection of brand-new releases! They’re also a café, and you can get specialty teas, specialty coffee, and delicious pastries you can enjoy along with your new book(s). If you’ve got a favourite tea or coffee blend, you can even take home a tin/bag for a Trident experience in your living room!
Where: 1256 Hollis Street, Halifax
Contact Details: 902-423-7100
This entry is for 19 and up, so look away kiddies! You might be surprised to find Venus Envy on this list—after all, it’s best known for being an adult store. While you can absolutely get those products there, Venus Envy also has an impressive book collection. Their shelves are stuffed with feminist and queer theory, curated fiction, and lots of books dealing with gender and sexual identity and expression. Inclusive of identities, races, abilities, and experiences, Venus Envy provides a great stop to explore these topics in a safe and welcoming environment, which is ever more important as people have the freedom to discover who they are.
Where: 1598 Barrington Street, Halifax
Contact Details: 902-422-0004
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Last in the alphabet, and the oldest children’s bookstore in Canada, Woozles is a part of many a Haligonian’s life story. Woozles is perfectly set up to entertain visitors of all ages, and there are books to suit every taste. They also have a toy section, with some out to play with while the Tall waits in line to make purchases. If you’ve got kids in your life and it’s a rainy day, this is the perfect place to take them.
Where: 1533 Birmingham Street, Halifax
Contact Details: 1-800-966-0537
By: Adrienne Colborne