Despite the widespread and ever-growing popularity of e-books and virtual literature, and more and more people using electronic devices for casual reading, there are those of us who still value the experience of reading an actual book with actual pages. Indeed, here in Hawaii, there is nothing quite like reading a favorite book with your toes in the sand and the sound of the surf fading away as you get immersed in a different kind of virtual world. The original kind.

Fortunately for such types, there are a handful of locally-owned and operated bookstores that have managed to thrive while big box booksellers are folding all over the world. So if you’re looking for some vacation reading, stop by one of these three purveyors and help carry on a time honored tradition. Feel free to use your electronic devices for directions, however. By becoming a customer at one (or all) of these independent bookstores you can help preserve them, and help perpetuate the need for printing presses.

  1. BookEnds is located in Kailua’s commercial district, and stocks a wide selection of new and used books, fiction and nonfiction in spite of its relatively small size. It’s an eclectic catalogue, with classics, New Age, and modern fiction alongside Hawaiiana, technical manuals, and just about anything other genre that has made it between covers.

    Used books stacked vertically against horizontal shelves give the feeling that someone with a personality owns the store, and not a corporation. Actually, Sue, the owner, may just be the one selling you your selection. A handful of coffee shops and cafes nearby are the perfect spot to dive into your new acquisition.

  2. Tucked into a small, second floor space near the University of Hawaii is Revolution Books. Its extensive catalogue is reflected in the name: it focuses on works of history and political theory, novels, poetry, atheism, science, geopolitics, and philosophy.

    Revolution Books is a proud supporter of the works of Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. But don’t let that scare you off. The staff is friendly and supremely well read. The “revolution” may be alive, but walking into Revolution Books doesn’t make you a communist, just inquisitive. The store often holds readings, discussions, film screenings and open-mic nights.

  3. Na Mea Hawaii/Native Books may be the largest retail collection of Hawaiiana, Hawaiian literature, nonfiction and fiction, anywhere. Located at Ward Warehouse, minutes from Waikiki, Na Mea Hawaii/Native Books is truly devoted to educating about Hawaii’s native and modern arts and culture.

    With frequent in-store readings, lectures, demonstrations and exhibit, the store is an excellent way to instantly immerse yourself in the kind of Hawaiian culture that you simply can’t experience in Waikiki

  4. .

600 Kailua Rd
Kailua, HI
Phone: (808) 261-1996

Revolution Books
2626 South King Street

Honolulu, HI
Phone: (808) 944-3106

Na Mea Hawaii/Native Books
1050 Ala Moana Blvd. Ste 1000
Honolulu, HI
Phone: (808) 596-8885


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