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In its heyday, Booked Up was one of the biggest bookstores in America. It’s still the most improbable. In a tiny town on the edge of the Great Plains (population: 1,702; traffic lights: 1), the novelist Larry McMurtry stocked and sold a vast assortment of used, rare, and antiquarian books. McMurtry, alas, died in 2021. The store endures, though it’s now down to a mere 150,000 volumes. Archer City, no website
Founded in 1978, Collected Works is the oldest of Santa Fe’s 17 independent bookstores. Inside you’ll find a coffee shop, a fireplace, a patio, puzzle and chess tables, resident terrier Booker T. Dog, and multiple places to sit and browse any of the store’s 25,000 volumes (emphasis on southwestern literature, history, and cooking). Readings, book signings, and discussions occur regularly. Santa Fe
Behind the walls of a modest storefront in Old Town Scottsdale lurk murder, mayhem, and mystery. Fortunately, all this violence lies between the covers on the Poisoned Pen’s shelves. The longtime independent, which also offers historical fiction, science fiction, and Southwest-centric titles, hosts events both in-house and virtually. Scottsdale
Owned by a former national park ranger, the premier bookstore in Utah’s red-rock canyon country is stocked with guidebooks, Native histories, environmental literature, and works by southwestern writers like Tony Hillerman, Barbara Kingsolver, and Edward Abbey. The name comes from Abbey’s classic novel of eco-sabotage The Monkey Wrench Gang, but it suits the entire region. Moab
You can see why this is among the few used bookshops left in the Las Vegas area. The selection is well organized and all over the map—from UFO studies to plump history shelves to Trump: Divine Intervention or Not? But it goes deep in surprising spots—so much Nabokov!—and, importantly, the inventory changes often. Only disappointment? Mickey, the bookstore cat, is black, not copper. Henderson
To create “a place where books and people meet,” Boise’s downtown literary hub hosts more than 200 book events for adults and kids annually. This year, Rediscovered Books aims to give away 1,000 titles through the Read Freely Project, which provides 10 free copies of a featured book to individuals, to be distributed to whomever they choose. The only stipulation: the books must be handed out face-to-face. Two other locations exist in the Boise metropolitan area, one offering a riff of Rediscovered Books as its name: Once and Future Books. Boise