The American Booksellers Association (A.B.A.) has a list of thirty-three independent bookshops in Chicago. I previously profiled or otherwise mentioned eighteen of these shops in “Chicago Independent Bookstore Day” – 57th Street Books in Hyde Park, Barbara’s Bestsellers in Sears (Willis) Tower, Barbara’s Bookstore at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, six Barbara’s Bestsellers in O’Hare International Airport, The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, City Lit Books in Logan Square, The Newberry Library’s A.C. McClurg Bookstore in the Near North Side Community Area, Open Books in River North, Sandmeyer’s Bookstore in Printer’s Row, the Seminary Coop in Hyde Park, Unabridged Books in Lakeview, and Women & Children First in Andersonville.
In that article, I also mentioned a local chain with two shops not on the A.B.A.’s list: Powell’s Bookstore in Hyde Park and Powell’s Bookstore in University Village. Theoretically, that leaves fifteen independent bookshops in the city to cover.
Please note that two of them – the Field Museum Stores and The Suq – Museum Store, also known as the Oriental Institute Lobby & Museum Shop – are not so much bookshops as gift shops that sell books. Two others, the Columbia Bookstore and DePaul University Bookstore, are college bookstores that sell textbooks, novels, and reference works, etc. but are practically mini-department stores because they sell clothing, appliances, and other things college students need to furnish their dorm rooms or apartments in addition to books and schools supplies.
Further, three of the “independent bookshops” on the list only exist on the World Wide Web, and one of those three does not seem to sell books at all. I will profile those three Web sites with Chicago mailing addresses in Part IX. In addition, one of the facilities on the A.B.A. list is not a bookshop but a wholesale book distribution center that belongs to a small national chain of book-and-magazine shops I will profile in Part VIII.
Abraham Lincoln Book Shop sells new and used books, signed books, and rare books with specialties in Abraham Lincoln, the (American) Civil War, military history, presidential biographies, and Westerns. They also sell manuscripts, pamphlets, newspapers, letters, prints and broadsides, vintage photographs, paintings, and sculptures.
Founded in 1938, I believe Abraham Lincoln Book Shop is now the oldest bookshop in the city since O’Gara & Wilson moved to Chesterton, Indiana last year. I think it would also be fair to say that it is now the most famous (independent) bookshop in Chicago.
Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Inc. continues to print a catalog twice a year by subscription. A sample catalogs is $5 each.
A two year-long subscription is $20. If one purchases a sample catalog and likes it, one can apply the $5 price toward a two-year subscription.
The address is 357 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60654. The phone number is (312) 944-3085.
The Bookworks in Wrigleyville sells used and antiquarian books, with a small selection of new books. It also sells vintage L.P.s and C.D.s, antique photographs, postcards, and ephemera. Specialties include art, photography, literature, cookbooks, Chicago history, metaphysics, baseball, and the works of Beatnik poets.
Founded in a small storefront in 1984, three years later it moved to its current location and Ronda Pilon joined owner Bob Roschke to help manage the business. It buys as well as sells items.
The address is 3444 North Clark, Chicago, Illinois 60657. The phone number is (773) 871-5318.
City Newsstand, the largest magazine shop in Chicago, does sell some books (mostly on Chicago history), but they do state, “We’re not really a bookstore any more.” City Newsstand has 200 linear feet of magazine racks.
Joe Angelastri, a former newspaper boy who had purchased the corner newsstand at 4002 North Milwaukee at the age of eighteen, purchased the bookstore at 4018 North Cicero and re-opened on January 2, 1988.
Five years later, he had completely converted the bookshop into a magazine shop and he learnt the famous Chicago-Main Newsstand in Evanston – one of the largest newsstands in the U.S. – had closed over a rent dispute. This caused a significant bump in Angelastri’s business. On May 29, 1994, he sold his 1,000,000th magazine.
Around the turn of the century, he heard rumors that the City of Evanston wanted to purchase the Chicago-Main Newsstand to expand the adjacent park, and a local businessman and alderwoman approached him about acquiring it instead. Angelastri brought in local architect Dave Forte to remove all but two walls and the foundation, add a steel support structure, install a glass and aluminum storefront, and raise the roof to allow in more natural light through the north wall’s windows.
The new owner also acquired the original neon sign. The remodeling project cost Angelastri more than $250,000. It earned Forte a design award from Design Evanston and Angelastri a Good Neighbor Award for Outstanding Contributions to Chicago Area Communities from the Chicago Association of Realtors
Three years ago this month, City Newsstand moved out of its permanent quarters at 4018 N. Cicero and into temporary quarters two doors to the north. Workers removed the wall between 4018 and 4020, removed the drop ceiling, replaced the old flooring with a mixture of new tile and carpeting, stripped the walls down to the bare brick, installed new lighting and fixtures, and added a café that can seat twelve. On July 25, 2012, the doors of City Newsstand at 4018 re-opened and the new City News Café opened.
The address of City Newsstand and City News Café is 4018 North Cicero, Chicago, Illinois 60641. It is approximately halfway between the Loop and O’Hare International Airport, near the junction of the John F. Kennedy Expressway (I-90) and the William G. Edens Expressway (I-94). The phone number is (773) 545-7377.
The address of Chicago-Main Newsstand is 860 Chicago, Evanston, Illinois 60202. The phone number is (847) 425-8900.