Borderstan on Books: A Gift That’s Actually Thoughtful?

by December 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm 1,171 0

From Zak M. Salih Email him at zak[AT]


Books: Always a perfect gift. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Let’s face it: Unless you’re some kind of genius with a background in organizational change management, you’re probably still not finished with your holiday shopping. But that’s okay — because no gift is as easy to find during a last-minute rush and as thoughtful and personal as a book.

But why shop and buy books online when you can still enjoy the sensory experience of wandering through an actual bookstore, combing the shelves, flipping through pages, finding hidden treasures, supporting local businesses? What better way to keep the hope alive that there’s still a place in the world for three-dimensional marketplaces for words?

Whether you’re looking for a copy of the latest award-winning bestseller, a paperback from a scholarly small press or even a dusty antique, you’ve got some options in and around our neighborhood.

Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe

Dupont Circle’s iconic independent bookstore, in business since 1976, has pretty much any type of book you’re looking for. Check out the table of paperback fiction right as you walk in for popular gift ideas for almost any reader.

  • ADDRESS: 1517 Connecticut Avenue NW
  • HOURS: 7:30 am to 1:30 am, Monday to Friday/open 24 hours Saturday and Sunday.
  • PHONE: 202-387-1400

As the name suggests, they’re a specialist in vinyl records. But they’ve also got a snazzy collection of specialty books ranging from the alternative to the obscure in subjects including fiction, art, photography and (naturally) music.

ADDRESS: 1901 18th Street NW
HOURS: Noon to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday. Noon to 5 pm, Sunday.
PHONE: 202-986-2718

Busbboys and Poets 

It features a small bookshop that most of us wander through while waiting for our table. But take some time to actually shop and you’ll find great gift books on culture, politics, philosophy, activism and other topics that are good for the mind — and the world.

  • ADDRESS: 2021 14th Street NW
  • HOURS: 8:00 am to midnight, Monday to Thursday. 8 am to 2 am, Friday. 9 am to 2 am, Saturday. 9 am to midnight, Sunday.
  • PHONE: 202-387-7638


It’s a chain, yes. But if you’re on the hunt for something popular and you’re willing to shrug off the stigma of not shopping local, this bookstore is reliable for popular books that will probably satisfy someone with whose reading habits you’re unfamiliar.

  • ADDRESS: 11 Dupont Circle NW
  • HOURS: 9 am to 10 pm, Monday to Thursday. 8 am to midnight, Friday to Saturday. 9 am to 9 pm, Sunday.
  • PHONE: 202-319-1374

Second Story Books

Like any great used bookstore, this is the kind of place you should explore when you have no idea what to get someone (and, hopefully, nowhere to be in the next several hours). Chances are, as you comb through their packed shelves of used and rare books, you’ll find a treasure worth giving. And keeping.

  • ADDRESS: 2000 P Street NW
  • HOURS: 10 am to 10 pm.
  • PHONE: 202-659-8884

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