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Wichita's Local Bookstores

In a world of iPhones and e-books, readers of an actual, ink-on-paper books have become increasingly rare. Don't get me wrong, technology is great. It's made reading materials more readily accessible to many people, and in this day and age, most information is readily available at the click of a mouse. That's really pretty cool. But, for those of us who love the old-school, manually page-turning style of reading, all hope is not lost. 

There are still small, quiet places to browse for a new favorite read, right here in Wichita. Places you can walk in and smell books and read handwritten notes made by previous owners-- things that an e-book can't offer.

Take a look at these Wichita area local bookstores!

Eighth Day Books

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Eighth Day Books

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Eighth Day Books Interior

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Pew Seating

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Hobbit Hole

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Eighth Day's Iconic Blue Doors

Did you know that you can take a trip to Narnia, and visit a Hobbit Hole right here in Wichita?

Eighth Day Books has been operating in Wichita for 28 years, opening it's original location in Clifton Square in 1988. The store, which specializes in the disciplines of art, science, and the humanities, remained at the original location for 13 years before moving, is now located at 2838 E. Douglas, and has been for the past 15 years.

Many visitors have compared entering the store to stepping into C.S. Lewis's Narnia. The store's basement, filled with  children's books, is affectionately called the Hobbit Hole. According to store owner Warren Farha, Eighth Day eschews the trendy, and carries books based not on their saleability. Rather, the store offers an eccentric community of books based on this principle: "if a book—be it literary, scientific, historical, or theological—sheds light on ultimate questions in an excellent way, then it's a worthy candidate for inclusion in our catalog."

"Eighth Day Books is more than a bookshop. It is a place where people gather, where friendships are made and nurtured, where great conversations happen, and where community born in a love for great books, great people, and truth and beauty, flourish. Of course, at the core of it all are the books," said Matthew Ash of Eighth Day.

The store carries a large amount of religious icons, books, and texts in addition to classics in fiction, non-fiction, and literature. You'll find the catalog of Eastern Orthodox, Church Fathers, lives of the Saints, prayer books, liturgical books, and devotional items on the shelves, stained glass windows, and seating made from pews at Eighth Day, creating the feeling of an old church. Even the store's name offers a nod to it's religious nature. 

"The number eight was a significant number for the ancient Christians as it was the symbol of the Resurrection - Christ rose from his tomb on the day after the sabbath, which is called the "eighth day". There are seven days of the week that represent the present time we live in - then there is the eighth day which represents the final day, or eternity that is born of the Resurrection where we will find rest and eternal love and praise. I think St. Augustine says it better than I can: 'An eighth and eternal day, consecrated by the Resurrection of Christ - there we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise...' - St. Augustine, City of God," Ash said.

Eighth Day Books feature a blend of new and used books, and host a variety of book groups that regularly meet in the store. The store has a devoted following of mail order customers worldwide. Stop by and check it out for yourself! Eighth Day Books is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.


Watermark Books and Cafe

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Watermark Books and Cafe

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Watermark Cafe

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Watermark Books and Cafe Display

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Autograph Gallery

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Storytime

Watermark Books and Cafe, located in the Lincoln Heights Village shopping at Douglas and Oliver brings Wichitans a unique place to read, relax, and have a bite to eat. As its name indicates, the bookstore is equipped with a cafe inside, where guests can order fresh, made from scratch baked goods like scones, cakes, muffins, cookies, soups and more.  

The homegrown, independent literary bookstore hosts several signing events, book clubs, author talks and luncheons with authors like Nicholas Sparks, Loren Long, Karin Slaughter and more. 

The stores basement features a unique autograph gallery, where visiting authors have signed the walls, leaving encouraging notes and drawings behind. 

Watermark Books and Cafe offers a quiet environment where guests can sit and read books from any of the sections of the store, including areas for books on cooking, health, science and more. A children's section offers a variety of fun 8books for young readers.

Watermark Books and Cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with the Cafe opening at 7 a.m. on Mondays through Fridays. The store closes at 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and is closed on Sundays.


Al's Old and New Books

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Classics

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A Place to Sit and Read

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Leatherbound Books

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Al's Old and New Books

Originally called Drawer's Books, Al's Old and New Books gained its name in 1957,  when the store was purchased by Helen Woodward. She chose to name her store after her husband, Al. Al's Old Books. Anita Siemer purchased the store in 2005, and opted to keep the name and retain the historical value that the store had garnered among local book-lovers. 

In a new space for the last two years, the store now continues it's 99 year history (58 years as Al's) at 360 E William in suite 102. 

Though the store has been around so long, it still manages to stay up to date with modern technology, with active social media channels, a website and books available for sale on Amazon!

If you're looking for a great read in the downtown area, Al's Old and New Books offers a great selection, including such genres as mystery, science fiction, history, fantasy, philosophy, classics, religion and more. 

Al's Old and New Books is open from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays and id closed on Sundays and Mondays. 

The store holds signings and events from time to time, and features a total of about 40,000 books!


Blue Dragon Books, Derby

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The Blue Dragon

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Blue Dragon Books

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Classics at Blue Dragon

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Comfy Reading Chairs

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Blue Dragon Exterior

Located just outside of Wichita, Derby is home to Blue Dragon Books, a popular place for local readers to pick some great reads. Formerly The Book Shelf, Blue Dragon relocated to 437 E. Madison in 2006 and was renamed Blue Dragon Books in 2009. 
The small used bookstore carries a few new items, and features an impressive selection. Carrying primarily recreational reading material, genres like mystery, romance, paranormal, western and more, the store also carries some non-fiction books in areas like gardening, health, pets, military and aviation. 
"One of the things we pride ourselves on is customer service. We try to get to know everyone who comes in and what they are interested in. We track down books and special order for our customers every day," said Manager Anne Randolph.
Blue Dragon Books supports local authors and stocks their books.Randolph further promotes local business by recommending that her customers pick up a coffee at Park Grounds, a local coffee shop at the other end on the Madison Plaza mall.
"A town the size of Derby needs a bookstore of its own. A good place to come and browse, taking time to relax and let your senses help to pick out just the right one for you. A warm leather bound Ben Hur? An old philosophy book with notes someone wrote in 1912? That big book on the Celtic World with all the beautiful full color pictures? These are the things that you miss when you just buy books online. The complete joy of discovery. Of finding a copy of that book you read when you were eight and this one is just like that, and maybe you can read it to your child," Randolph said. 
If you were curious about the name Blue Dragon Books, don't worry. Randolph explains that, too.
"I have a small blue dragon that I bought in college. She now sits in the store on a large dictionary at the front of the store, gazing over her hoard of books. She might even let you take a treasure home for your own," she said. 

What's your favorite local bookstore?

Let us know in the comments!

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