As the leaves change and the air becomes crisp, there is nothing better than cozying up in a local bookstore. Luckily for you, Knoxville has 6 great options that fit the needs of book lovers far and wide. 

Union Ave Books

Union Avenue Books ​

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1. Union Avenue Books
This shop checks all the boxes – locally owned, independent, hosts events, and carries books for all walks of life.  Whether you’re shopping for children or teens, looking for fiction or non-fiction, you’re sure to find it here (and if you don’t, they can order it).  They are located on – surprise – Union Avenue in the heart of downtown.  Conveniently next to Mahalo Coffee Roasters, a bright café perfect for sipping a latte as you turn the pages.  There are several other stores on Union Avenue, nearby Market Square, and Gay Street so if you’re shopping local you’re going to have no problem find something for everyone on your list.  For the locals, their Union Ave Book Club meets on the last Wednesday of every month at Knox Brew Hub to chat about the books and enjoy the many craft beers and non-alcoholic options KBH has to offer!

Bear Den Books

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Bear Den Books

2. Bear Den Books

The two University of Tennessee graduates who founded this bookstore have branded it as “America’s least pretentious bookstore” for good reason. Located in Knoxville's Sequoyah Hills neighborhood, Bear Den Books serves their East Tennessee friends who already love books and hope to introduce others to the pleasure of reading. From westerns to biographies, and everything in between, they can help you find your new favorite book! Whatever you like to read, their friendly staff is here to cheer you on. They carry a wide range of titles, but their Knoxville-specific and Children's book collections are especially great. Check their calendar for author events and story times. Find them near Tree Top Coffee Shop (loving these combos of coffee + books!) or make brunch plans at The Plaid Apron. No need to go far to enjoy your new title, this shop is close to Sequoyah Park down Cherokee Boulevard. Bring a blanket, enjoy the beautiful Tennessee River, and turn another page!

The Bookshop at The Bottom

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Bookshop at the Bottom

3. The Bookshop at The Bottom
The Bottom is a creative space that offers new-comers and locals alike a place to get plugged into the Knoxville’s Black community. Their work is grounded in place based socio-historic explorations of Black life in Knoxville, and stands as a multi-use place to foster change and provide comfort. The Bottom is a place to feel welcomed, feel encouraged, and feel seen. This cozy space in East Knox houses an independent bookshop, tea room, community podcast studio, research room, and a creative art workshop. Their independent bookshop serves to affirm and empower Black authors by providing a curated collection of Black literature for all ages. While you’re there, ask one of the friendly faces at the counter for a quick tour to learn the rich history of The Bottom while discovering what all they have to offer! They have a stacked calendar full of creative meetups, writing and literacy workshops, pop-ups, author talks, and more.

Smart Toys & Books

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Smart Toys & Books Interior table with chairs

4. Smart Toys & Books
This shop in west Knoxville is the hot spot for the younger set – they even have an interactive playground!  They also host classes and events so take a look at their calendar if you’re in town.  They’re in a plaza called Franklin Square, so if you’ll be there in the morning you can grab some diner style-breakfast or lunch at Sami’s Café, or if you’re around for dinner, you won’t regret a meal at The Chop House.

Addison's Books

5. Addison's 

Addison's is a two story independent, used bookstore on the 100 Block of Gay Street downtown, specializing in used, old and rare books. The main floor features an array of antiquarian books for your perusal as well as an inviting bar area serving coffee and hot tea. A long library table offers students and professionals space to work, with leather chairs dotted throughout for comfortable lounging. There are even tables set up to play a rousing game of chess if that suits your fancy. Coming to town and need to host a meeting? Addison’s offers a practical, yet beautiful event space that can be rented and reserved. Make sure you visit their events page to see all of the different book clubs, education events, and guided discussions. 

Fable Hollow Coffee & Bookshoppe

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Fable Hollow

Located in Fountain City, Fable Hollow is a fantasy-focused bookstore that transports you to a world of whimsy as soon as you enter the door. Owned by two local Knoxville women, this large space offers a wide range of all genres (not just fantasy!), and has numerous couches and study rooms that are perfect to cozy up in. To further enhance the coziness, try one of their lattes or “elixirs” that are rotated seasonally. Nothing is better than the intertwining smell of coffee and books, right? If you have little ones, Fable Hollow has regular children’s story times every other Saturday and Wednesday. While you’re there, check out the various book clubs they offer, or sign up for a Dungeons and Dragons class to unleash your inner mage. Check their events page to see what other fun things they have to offer!

Bonus Places to Find Books

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Vintage Treasures interior with bookshelves

Bonus places to find books:

Book Eddy
The Book Eddy specializes in rare, antiquarian, and out-of-print books and ephemera at 3804 N. Broadway.

Elusive Editions inside Vintage Treasures
Vintage Treasures is a shop in Bearden that has several booths inside. Elusive Editions is one of those, and they have a variety of offerings including Local/Regional History, Classic Lit, Civil War, War of 1812, American Revolution, Nature, Science, and more. 

Knoxville County Library System
Knoxville’s library system is awesome, and the downtown location (Lawson McGhee Library) has a used book shop supported by the Friends of the Knox County Public Library.  They have several sales throughout the year. Oh yeah, they have a book club too.

This one could be considered a regional chain, with five total locations. Tennessee has locations in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Nashville; and North Carolina has locations in Greensboro and Winston-Salem. They have more used books than you have ever seen, and also carry movies, music, video games and more. The Knoxville location is off the Northshore/Papermill exit with lots of things to do nearby as it is situated between Bearden and the West Hills/West Town Mall area. This page has ideas for things to do based by neighborhoods, so go ahead and explore!

Visit Knoxville
Shameless plug alert, our visitor center’s gift shop carries books about this wonderful city we call home. Many other attractions carry books in their gift shops too, so whether you like art, history, nature, etc. you’re sure to add something new to your shelves. Be sure to read this post about some attraction gift shops, and this post about gifts for local book lovers.


Original post written by Kristen Combs, updated October 2023 by Fall Marketing Intern, Kacey Cannon