Best Book Store (Chain)

Left Bank Books

When Borders closed for good last fall, we wondered if we would need to retire this category as Barnes & Noble would just have to win by default. But then we realized something that should have been obvious: Left Bank Books, with its two locations in the Central West End and downtown, is a chain! It's true it doesn't feel like a chain — both stores still maintain many of the accoutrements of an indie, most notably Spike the cat, a long-time mainstay of the Central West End, not to mention a carefully considered selection of books, both new and used (including the best LGBT collection in town), tended by a knowledgeable and book-loving staff. And just about every night at either location, you'll encounter a visiting writer, part of a seemingly endless reading series arranged by the indefatigable Danielle Borsch. Part of the appeal of a chain is that you always know what you're going to get. Left Bank proves that consistency does not necessarily have to mean corporate or soul-less.

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