Once upon a time, book stores were in every town. There were the mom and pops, and then there were the giants. Each offered a wealth of mystery, romance, drama, history, entertainment, education, and a whole lot more.
Then, the internet came along and many of those stores failed and folded, leaving people without their favorite haunts to hang out in.
But, if you ask the right people, they’ll tell you that the bookstore never really went away. While mom and pops had a hard time of it and several big boxes struggled as well, there are a few bookstores that have thrived.
To determine the largest bookstores, we’ve considered a combination of factors. Sales and income are obviously key factors, and it needs to be noted that internet sales by brick-and-mortar companies are included in this overview.
Bookstores are often selling things other than books and these products often pertain to print or the written word, but music has also become a big-ticket item for bookstores. They also have branched out from only new book sales into used book sales.
33 East 17th Street
New York, NY 10003
At one point in time, Barnes Noble boasted that they had the biggest bookshop in the world. Their New York store at 105 Fifth Avenue was 154,250 square feet and had 12.87 miles of shelves packed with shiny new books ready for sale.
This location was the book store company’s flagship, but it didn’t last. It closed in January of 2014. Effectively taking the title from Barnes Noble. The company has recovered and now claims to be the internet’s largest bookstore.
Are they officially the largest? There’s no definitive answer on that one but they do have more than one million titles in their ebook catalog.
Trying to keep up with competition, Barnes Noble has expanded its in-store offerings to include a wide array of products featuring mainly videos, kids’ toys and products, games, and other printed materials. They have a huge online store as well as large offerings in their brick-and-mortar book shops.
4601 26th Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98105
If we’re going to talk about online book sales, then it’s important to mention the giant in the room. Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world with a catalog that includes more than 33 million titles, and they will ship them just about anywhere.
But it’s the actual stores that interest us. This internet giant can be blamed for changing the landscape of booksellers and almost causing the collapse of the physical book shop.
However, they then turned around and opened their own brick-and-mortar stores. They now have actual, physical stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, where they opened their first store.
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1005 W. Burnside St.
Portland, OR 97209
It’s not just the national brands that get recognition for their sales and success. Powell’s Books states that it’s the world’s largest independent bookstore. If you don’t live in Oregon, you might not be familiar with this bookstore, but if you’ve ever visited, there’s a good chance you’re a big fan of this book-selling giant.
Powell’s began in Chicago when college student Michael Powell opened the first store in 1970. His father Walter helped Michael and loved the business so much, he opened his own used bookstore in Portland, Oregon.
Eventually, Michael moved back to Portland and closed down the Chicago location. Today there are three locations in Oregon, and it’s owned and run by the third generation of Powells.
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The Hudson Group
1 Meadowlands Plaza
East Rutherford, NJ 07073
If you’ve ever popped into a Hudson News store in an airport and picked up a paperback for the flight, you’re visiting one of the largest bookstores in the United States (even though the store you visited probably was extremely small). The company operates more than 970 stores throughout the country.
Their story began with the founding in 1918, the company was then incorporated in 1926, and since 2008, they’ve been owned by Dunfry AG, of Basel, Switzerland.
While books are a large part of their business, they also operate travel essentials and convenience stores, duty-free stores, electronics stores, themed stores, and food and beverage operations.
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Half Price Books
6803 E. Northwest Hwy.
Dallas, TX 75231
Let’s talk about a true giant; Half Price Books is America’s largest family-owned bookstore. Since 1972, this company has been committed to books, literacy, and the local communities where their stores are housed.
Their start is as sweet as some of the stories they sell. Two book-loving friends opened a used book shop in an old laundromat with no idea of the appeal their “We Buy Books” ads would inspire.
Today, they have more than 120 stores across the states and a significant web presence. They specialize in creating a homey feel in their stores that smacks of the classic mom-and-pop stores. And they stick by their original concept of giving to the community and promoting literacy.
402 Industrial Ln.
Birmingham, AL 35211
BAM to its devotees, Books-A-Million began as a street corner newsstand in 1917. With its base still in Florence, Alabama, this company is a staple in the southeastern United States.
The stores are on the larger side, from 4,000 to 30,000 square feet. They sell much more than books now with a good selection of gifts, toys, technology, and even a restaurant offering with their Joe Muggs® Café.
The company has not just grown from selling books and newspapers; it currently boasts that it is the second-largest book retailer in the nation.
Their book wholesale and distribution subsidiary, American Wholesale Book Company, and their e-commerce business are largely responsible for their vast success.
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1501 Vermont Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Books, Inc. leaves the claims to be the biggest store or the biggest retailer to the others. Their claim to fame is that they’re the West’s oldest independent bookseller. Their history goes all the way back to 1851 and the gold rush days in California.
Gold miner Anton Roman apparently struck it rich and left gold behind to focus on words. He opened his first bookstore in Shasta City, but that store has since burned, moved, been sold, and is non-existent today. What came from that store though was a 1946 franchise called Books Inc.
Today Books Inc. has a respectable ten locations throughout California and is happy to hold its own in today’s economy.
Bookmans Entertainment Exchange Headquarters
3330 E. Speedway Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85716
With a buy, sell, trade mentality, Bookmans has found a way to survive in the world of book retail. But they’re dealing in much more than books these days.
In fact, they list these items as ones they buy and then resell: books, magazines, comics, music, movies, video games, musical instruments, electronics, housewares, and more.
Bookmans got its start in 1976 when Bob Oldfather opened his first store in Tucson. Now, more than 40 years later, the store has become a chain with six buildings and a commitment to being an integral part of each community they reside in.
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Deseret Book Company
55 N. 300 W
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Deseret Book Company is owned by a holding company that is controlled by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The stores began in 1919 when two booksellers, both of whom can trace their roots to the same man, merged.
Later, in 2004, Deseret Book acquired Excel Entertainment Group, known for producing LDS cinema productions and making some records. The company has a large offering, but everything they produce has a religious aspect to it.
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United Methodist Publishing House
2222 Rosa L Parks Blvd
Nashville, TN 37228
Another religious bookseller is Cokesbury. They consider themselves the retail and customer service arm of The United Methodist Publishing House.
Offering more than 300,000 unique products that include books and other written materials, they claim to also reach a broad ecumenical audience across the globe.
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While Americans still like to read, stats are showing that they’re reading less than they have in the past. This in combination with the proliferation of ebooks and book-buying online is a huge factor in the decline of the traditional bookstore.
Interestingly, as we saw many major bookstores like Borders, B. Dalton, Book World, and others collapse into bankruptcy in the last decade or two, there seems to be a shift. The New York Times recently wrote an article on how the small bookstore is becoming a trend again. People love authenticity and nostalgia.
Similarly, the American Booksellers Association has reported a rise in indie bookstore sales. This is great news for readers and people who love to support local companies.
But it looks like the superstores of the literary world may be endangered. They can continue adding products to their lineup but that just might not be enough.
What is the largest bookstore chain in America? ›
The biggest bookstore chain is Barnes & Noble, which has been struggling for many years and has closed about 10 percent of its stores since 2011. Its most recent pivot was to go back to its roots and concentrate on bookselling.Who sells the most books in the US? ›
There are many things one can say about Amazon, good and bad. But at the end of the day, it sells more books than any other retailer for a good reason.Who is the largest retail bookseller? ›
Barnes & Noble is the world's largest retail bookseller and a leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products. The Company operates over 600 Barnes & Noble bookstores in 50 states, and one of the Web's premier e-commerce sites, BN.com.Where is the largest bookstore in the United States? ›
Founded in 1971, Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon doesn't dispute the claims of Barnes & Noble or World's Biggest Bookstore. Powell's stakes its claim to the “world's largest” designation by stating that it is “the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world.”What state has the largest bookstore? ›
Bookstores in America, 2013: A State-by-State Guide.
|3||Barnes & Noble||US|
1. Powell's Bookstore | Portland, OR
The largest independent bookstore in the world, Powell's City of Books is home to more than 1 million new, used and rare tomes.
According to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.What is the number 1 most sold book? ›
The Bible. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, having sold around 5 billion copies to date. The book had several authors and can be roughly divided into two parts: The Old Testament and the New Testament.
What is the most read book of all time? ›
The most read book in the world is the Bible. Writer James Chapman created a list of the most read books in the world based on the number of copies each book sold over the last 50 years. He found that the Bible far outsold any other book, with a whopping 3.9 billion copies sold over the last 50 years.What is the #1 retailer in America? ›
Answer: Barnes and Noble competes for market share in the retail book industry. The company's main competitor is Amazon Books. Amazon Books is a subsidiary of Amazon.com and operates online and physical retail stores. Other Barnes and Noble competitors include Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, and Powell's Book Store.What is the largest book store in the world? ›
World's Biggest Bookstore.
|Founder||Carl and Jack Cole|
|Defunct||March 30, 2014|
|Feb 1, 2019||10,521|
|Feb 1, 2020||7,173.7|
|Feb 1, 2021||9,482.9|
|Feb 1, 2022||9,865|
Andover Bookstore, Founded 1809
With Moravian partnering up with Barnes & Noble, The Andover Bookstore is now the oldest independent bookstore in the United States of America! The bookstore is a staple in the history of Andover, Massachusetts, and it is a beautiful icon for literary America.
The largest individual bookstore in the world measured by square footage is the Barnes Noble Bookstore at 105 Fifth Ave at 18th Street, New York City, USA. It covers 154,250ft² and has 12.87 miles of shelving.Where is the oldest book store in the world? ›
The Bertrand bookstore opened in Portugal in 1732, in Chiado and has held, since April 2010, the Guinness World Record for oldest bookstore still in activity.Why are New York's bookstores disappearing? ›
But the biggest culprit, at least in New York, is the same seemingly unstoppable force shuttering small businesses across the city: rising rent. Rent is a particular concern for bookstores because they operate on low margins but require large storage space.What state reads the most books? ›
After results were analyzed, Vermont was found to love reading the most, with a Reading Interest Score of 37.24.
What library holds the most books? ›
The Library of Congress, founded in 1800, is a book lover's dream. With 164 million items and 1,350 kilometers of bookshelves, it's the world's largest library.Where is the largest collection of books? ›
Statistics. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world with more than 173 million items. View detailed collection statistics.What city is known for books? ›
Of course, you know about Powell's Books, the self-proclaimed “city of books,” and the best place to start your book-buying tour of Portland.
- #1 – Don Quixote (500 million copies sold) ...
- #2 – A Tale of Two Cities (200 million copies sold) ...
- #3 – The Lord of the Rings (150 million copies sold) ...
- #4 – The Little Prince (142 million copies sold) ...
- #5 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (107 million copies sold)
While most people are e-readers, this man is the proud owner of more than 1.5 million books that he has collected over 50 years. Take a peek inside Anke Gowda's "house of books". Brut.What big book store went out of business? ›
Remnants of a closed Borders Bookstore in San Rafael, Calif.Who owns the largest personal library? ›
Karl Lagerfeld's Private Library, Paris
Home to over 60,000 tomes – making it one of the largest private collections in the world – the library at Chanel maestro Karl Lagerfeld's Parisian aparment is a modern marvel.
"And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie — After her death in 1976, Christie's estate claimed that the mystery writer had sold more than 4 billion copies of her books, putting her "behind only Shakespeare and The Bible." The Guinness Book of World Records put it at a more modest 2 billion copies, among which "And ...What is the most read book in 2022? ›
Added to readers' shelves over 818,000 times, the most popular book of the year so far among Goodreads reviewers is "Reminders of Him" by Colleen Hoover.
What is the most popular store 2022? ›
- Walmart. Image. Walmart once again leads the pack, claiming a 12.67% retail share of the market, equating to $572 billion in sales. ...
- Amazon. Image. While Amazon didn't bump to the top spot, the company is not falling behind by any means. ...
- CVS Health. Image. ...
- Costco. Image. ...
- Home Depot. Image.
|Rank||Company||Revenue Per Year|
|3||Royal Dutch Shell||$355,782,000,000|
- 1 Target67%
- 2 Dollar Tree66%
- 3 Kohl's64%
- 4 Costco64%
- 5 Walmart61%
- 6 Big Lots60%
- 7 J. C. Penney60%
- 8 Sam's Club60%
One of the key reasons behind this collapse of Barnes and Noble was its failure to innovate as per the shifting needs of the target audience and make the most of its strengths.Who just bought Barnes and Noble? ›
(NYSE:BKS, “Barnes & Noble”) announces today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by funds advised by Elliott Advisors (UK) Limited (“Elliott”) for $6.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $683 million, including the assumption of debt.What is Barnes and Noble sales rank? ›
The sales rank of an item on our website indicates the popularity of that item. For example, a book with a sales rank of 1 is the number one selling book at bn.com. A book with a sales rank of 10 is the 10th highest-selling book on our website.Where is the world book Capital? ›
Following the evaluation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee, the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, has designated Strasbourg (France) as World Book Capital for 2024.What is the most famous book company? ›
|1||Penguin Random House|
|3||Simon & Schuster|
|4||Hachette Book Group|
The bookstore is named after a famous street in London where writers such as Thackerary, Dickens and Mill used to gather, and where succesful book publishers used to thrive! Today, The Strand is the largest non-commercialised bookstore in New York and is the sole survivor of Book Row.
Why is it called the Strand? ›
The Strand was named after a street in London that was a popular shopping, theatre, and recreation district for the upper class. 'Strand' comes from the Old English term strond, which was used to describe a shore or riverbank. In the mid-1800s, The Strand was home to shops housed in wooden structures.Why is the Strand so called? ›
The Strand's name was first recorded in 1185 and derives from the Old English word meaning 'bank' or 'shore'. The road formerly ran close to the Thames but now finds itself lying inland as a result of the construction of the Victoria Embankment.What is the most popular book ever read? ›
The most read book in the world is the Bible. Writer James Chapman created a list of the most read books in the world based on the number of copies each book sold over the last 50 years. He found that the Bible far outsold any other book, with a whopping 3.9 billion copies sold over the last 50 years.