Fascinating folklore, classic pieces of literature, and stories of our culture are all jewels to be discovered at Hawaii’s bookstores. Steeped in a unique history, there is plenty to be uncovered at these 9 independent, locally-owned book shops in Paradise.
This used bookstore in Kailua-Kona has a huge variety of used books of all different types of genres. You may find sheet music, 1930s texts or science fiction—this bookstore definitely has some rare finds and has books for all tastes and interests. If you have old books that you are looking to trade in, you can also do this here, with credit amounts depending on genre, title, age and condition. Stop by local grocery and deli Island Naturals next door for a quick, healthy and delicious lunch!
BookEnds is a local, independent bookstore with something for everyone, young and old, fiction and non-fiction, recent best sellers and older classics. There is such an abundance of books that they sometimes end up piled on the floor, so the store has a bit of a messy, ramshackle vibe that makes pinpointing specific items more difficult. However, the knowledgeable staff helps customers and if you are the type of shopper that enjoys leisurely browsing and stumbling upon unexpected surprises, this could be the place for you.
Kona Stories, established in 2006, specializes in children’s books, Hawaiiana, and offers consignment for local writers looking to promote their work. Kona Stories also hosts book club and word and wine events for those looking to meet and socialize with other book lovers.
Still Life books picks up finds on genres spanning from travel, religion, photography to rare prints, and focuses on a solid music collection. Customers have been pleased to find rare Cuban CDs, Joni Mitchell records, and local Hawaiian poetry. The central location makes it easy to spend an afternoon perusing some of the surrounding thrift stores, farmers markets and coffee shops. Owner Royce Wilson has been described by locals and visitors alike as extremely friendly and passionate about his shop—there’s even an area for the keiki (children).
Na Mea Hawai’i Native Books is one of the best places on the islands to find a plethora of local genres that focus on everything from Polynesian voyages to the traditions of Hula and Hawaiian mythology and native folklore. Their website allows you to browse books by category, making it easy to search for exactly what you are looking for. The store also hosts crafting events, live music and sells local baked goods, clothing and other goods.
Hakubundo Japanese book and stationery store in Honolulu specializes in books and crafting supplies with a Japanese twist. You may see “Hello Kitty” crafting supplies, Washi tape for journaling, anime & graphic novels and other Japanese books. Hakubundo’s inventory is more highly skewed towards the stationary and crafting supplies than a huge variety of literature, and the prices are higher than other bookstores on our list, but patrons come for the authentic merchandise that they may expect to find when shopping in Japan.
Molokai touts itself as “The Friendly Island” and the staff at Kalele Bookstore and Divine really take the Aloha spirit to heart. Hawaii attracts many visitors and residents who are on spiritual journeys or seeking healing and rejuvenation, and this bookstore specializes in this content, as well as offering a gathering place for locals and travelers with this particular interest. Enjoy a free cup of coffee as you browse and find out about weekly events and workshops. In addition, browse local woodworks, jewelry, art, crystals and more!
Talk Story Bookstore prides itself of having the largest new release, fine used, rare, secondhand, and out-of-print book collection on Kauai—over 150,000 titles. You can also find sheet music, vintage records, or even learn how to play the ukulele here!Browsing is made easier for the technically inclined via a link to the shop’s Amazon page, which has a portion of inventory available for purchase. You can also bring in your used books to earn store credit.
This donation-based bookstore is a great find for avid readers looking for used books at great value (you can find tons of options for less than $5!). Prices are typically penciled into the front cover, but keep in mind that this store is cash only. There are three locations across the island that are run by volunteers, which helps keep the prices down. Although you map not find the highest quality or rare out of print finds here, for anyone who loves books at a great price, this is a solid option.