Perhaps no bookstore in the country gets more respect from the literati, as witness the graffiti-like testimonials left in the store by scores of visiting authors. Elliott Bay is deep in all major categories, especially the nature and lore of the Pacific Northwest.

Tattered Cover

2955 E. First Ave.
(800) 833-9327
Founded: 1974
Offers: New books
Claim to fame: Cozy chairs, reading lamps - a browser's paradise

Like many an indie bookstore, Denver's Tattered Cover feels like an organic part of the community, defining the place almost as vividly as the nearby Rocky Mountains. The store weathered hard times and layoffs during the recent economic downturn, but TC remains a Denver landmark, pleasing not just book-loving locals, but hordes of vacationers, many of whom drive from Vail, Georgetown, and Dillon for a literary fix. Cool touches include a dining table set among the cookbooks and a pew in the religion section.

And why, you ask, does a store selling new books call itself Tattered Cover? The proprietors say the name describes "our best hope for the fate of all new books" - to become well-loved used books with happy owners. There's also a Tattered Cover outpost at 16th and Wynkoop in Denver.      
Harvard Book Store

1256 Massachusetts Ave.
(800) 542-7323
Founded: 1932
Offers: New, used, and rare books
Claim to fame: Brainy bibliophile's best bud

A bookstore located just a lacrosse whack or two from one of America's greatest universities might be expected to have lofty intellectual standards. They don't come loftier than Harvard Book Store, which is not, despite the name, affiliated with Harvard U. In this five-story classical revival building, that studious-looking chap browsing the philosophy section probably knows just what Jacques Derrida meant - and may know him personally.