Best Independent Bookstore

Best: Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, (202) 364-1919
2nd Best: Vertigo Books
7346 Baltimore Ave., College Park, (301) 779-9300
Bridget Warren, co-owner of College Park’s Vertigo Books, has a very simple pitch for why her store is better than Barnes & Noble: “Our store is not humongous, so we can’t compete with the quantity of B&N, but we do compete with the quality of selection.” Warren knows what she’s talking about: On Vertigo’s front tables, shoppers won’t find shitty coffee-table books about the history of the Ford Mustang or forgotten basket-weaving patterns . Instead, they’ll find the books hand-chosen by Warren and crew. It’s this curatorial approach that sets Vertigo apart; at big stores, publishers buy display space (and you thought B&N put the new Danielle Steel novel out front because it’s literature!). While a bit of a trek for people who don’t live uptown, Vertigo’s selection of remainders will save most people the difference in gas and time (and it’s actually a much shorter trek for Northeast residents than, say, Politics & Prose). According to Warren, it’s not unusual for Vertigo to beat Amazon or B&N by as much as $10 on remainders. Says Warren: “People can come in and spend $20 to $25 and leave with four or five really good hard copies.”