Indie Bookstore Week: Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester

annie's book stop of worcester bookstore front

Independent bookstore Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester has a storied history that goes far beyond the town limits of Massachusetts’ second-largest city.

The store, located at 65 James Street in Worcester, is part of a chain that once boasted 70 used bookstores, all dedicated to encouraging book reading and book swapping.

Today there are eleven Annie’s shops, in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Annie’s is known for its discounted prices on new releases, and its policy of accepting and re-selling used books, which was the basis of the chain’s original name, Annie’s Book Swap.

I’ll be reading from Horseshoes and Hand Grenades at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on Saturday, Nov. 16th at 1:00 PM.

In addition to selling books in all genres, Annie’s offers gift items, audio books and greeting cards. Their busy event schedule features two to seven happenings each week, from children’s crafts to book signings to discussion groups.

A Storied History

The first Annie’s was opened in the 1970s by Anne Tryon Adams, in Westborough, Massachusetts. It was located in her barn!

The book swapping concept took off, and by the end of the 1980s, Annie’s had 70 franchises as far away as Florida and California. Along the way, the name was changed from Annie’s Book Swap to Annie’s Book Stop, and the stores began selling new books and merchandise as well as used books.

In 2010, longtime children’s bookseller Patty Cryan purchased the Worcester store. She explained why in a Publishers Weekly article: “I didn’t want this store to go under…It was a lower risk to buy the store than to try to start something up from scratch.”

Cryan dedicated more space to new books and the children’s section, and instituted a number of events that bring the community into Annie’s, and vice versa.

Discounted Books

Annie’s is known for its discounted prices and its policy of accepting used books for re-sale. All new books are discounted a minimum of 20% off the cover price. Most pre-read titles are at least 50% off the original retail price.

If you buy a new book at Annie’s and bring it back in within two months, you’ll get half of the book’s retail price back in store credit. That’s an amazing offer for people who read quickly but don’t get sentimental about hanging onto their hardcovers and paperbacks.

If you want to sell some of your books to Annie’s, you do that in exchange for store credit.

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester also offers teacher discounts, mail orders, and special orders. Even their special orders are usually sold at a discount off the retail price.

Fans swear by the store, including this one on TripAdvisor: “We visit Annie’s Book Stop regularly. If you love to read and want books at a low price, this is the place to go. Popular authors, Dr. Who toys, great and friendly staff. I only paid $2.99 for a book Barnes n Noble wanted $24.99 for. Same new condition. This is a must stop for book lovers everywhere.”

Community Events

The events calendar at Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is impressive for what is a relatively small store. It includes:

Spinning Yarns – Listen to audiobooks while knitting your latest creation (weekly)

Game Night – Try your hand at various board games, card games and dice games (weekly)

Events for Aspiring Writers (varies)

LGBTQIA Book Club (monthly)

Free Peoples Artists Workshop – Writers, painters, illustrators, dancers and other artists bring in works-in-progress for feedback (monthly)

Doctor Who Meetup (monthly).