Indie bookstores are unique, enchanting places and I can never get enough of them. Each store has their own identity, which makes them fun to explore (road trip, anyone?) and becomes delightfully apparent in their T-shirt designs. I started collecting bookstore T-shirts a few years ago when I picked up a Bear Pond Books T-shirt while traveling, and during the pandemic I found myself buying a lot of bookstore merchandise (and books!) to support struggling indies during the initial wave of shut-downs. While many bookstores already sold their own branded merchandise as a fun sideline, we saw a ton of special T-shirts and items become available as an easy way to raise money for struggling bookstores as they hustled to fulfill book orders in the midst of widespread supply chain delays.
Luckily for us, there are still so many great indie T-shirts available, and you don’t need to actually travel to the store in question to buy them — you can find them on their websites, and on online merchandising sites like Bonfire! Here we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorite indie bookstore T-shirt designs that you can buy from the comfort of your own home, featuring fun bookish designs, clever book puns, and even some amazing art from local talent. Don’t let a lack of in-person travel stop you from supporting some amazing indies and adding some bookish flair to your wardrobe!
Bookshelf T-Shirt from Schuler Books ($28): I love this cozy bookshelf scene!
Stay Home and Read Romance from The Ripped Bodice ($25): What I love about this series of designs is that you can pick from a variety of couples—M/F, M/M, and F/F! (And yes, I may own the F/F one…)
Mission Statement from The Bookshelf Thomasville ($25): This bright marigold shirt has the store’s mission statement in bold font, and it’s one I would be proud to wear!
Babysitter’s Back, Alright! T-shirt from Bookshelf Thomasville ($30): And speaking of Bookshelf Thomasville…no one does literary humor like indies! If you love the ’90s and you love BSC, you need this shirt!
Stay Home and Read T-shirt from McLean and Eakin ($25): This might have been a pandemic-times shirt, but I feel like the message transcends a global pandemic.
Oblong Books Logo T-Shirt ($23): I’ve never been to Oblong Books (it’s on my bookstore bucket list!) but I really dig their logo!
Books Are Magic Pink and White T-Shirt ($26): Books Are Magic has multiple great T-shirt designs, but this is just one of my favorites!
New Worlds T-Shirt from A Room of One’s One ($30): Featuring artwork by Terrence Adeyanju, this T-shirt supports a queer-owned bookstore (and has a fun surprise on the back!).
Anniversary T-Shirt from Trident Booksellers ($25): Celebrate 40 years of Trident Booksellers with this cute T-shirt, which was designed by a local artist.
Shop Local, Build Community T-Shirt from Twice Told Tales ($25): I am obsessed with this illustration!
McNally Jackson Flagship Store T-Shirt ($29): The beloved McNally Jackson flagship store, on a T-shirt! Check out their shop for even more fun designs!
Typewriter T-Shirt from Literati Bookstore ($18): Known for their public typewriter, Literati’s T-shirt features a typewriter, of course.
Drone-Free T-Shirt from Raven Bookstore ($22): Raven Bookstore has long promoted an anti-Amazon stance and their hilarious, ’90s-inspired T-shirt definitely sends that message!
Just One More Page T-Shirt from Copper Dog Books ($25): This T-shirt is a total vibe.
Malaprop’s Cafe from Malaprop’s Bookstore ($25): To celebrate the reopening of their in-store cafe, Malaprop’s offered this vintage design, which was originally printed on employee T-shirts in the 1980s!
Need more indie bookstore goodness? Here are some great indie bookstores you can shop at online!