July 18, 2024

Summer event celebrates indpendent bookshops

A map of 36 independent bookstores participating in the inaugural Iowa Indie Bookshop Tour beginning today.

A new chapter has started for independent bookstores in Iowa with the help of Travel Iowa and The Green Dragon Bookshop in Fort Dodge.

July 1 marks the start of the Iowa Indie Bookshop Tour where 36 independent bookstores are participating in an inaugural three-month event.

To take part in the literary summer road trip, patrons pick up a passport at participating locations. When a purchase is made at one of the bookstores, a stamp is received in the passport. After a minimum of two stamps are collected, the passport can be entered in a prize drawing by turning it in at a participating shop.

Over the past few years, Southwest Iowa has become a home to multiple indie bookstores including The Latest Edition Bookstore in Creston.

Elizabeth Fioretto owns The Latest Edition Bookstore in Creston.

The store features books for all ages in all genres. With several seating areas, the bookstore was created with the idea of having a space to go outside of work and home.

“Iowa has an amazing mix of unique independent bookstores at the moment so it’s great timing,” The Latest Edition owner Elizabeth Fioretto said. “Last year when I was planning to open the store, I did my own version of this tour to check out the closest four or five stores and meet owners to see what this life would be like. It was so much fun, and I truly became friends with many other bookstore owners in the process. Each store is as unique as its owner and town, and I can’t wait for others to have a similar experience this summer, and maybe win a few prizes along the way.”

One of the area locations she visited was That’s What She Read in Mount Ayr. A niche bookstore, That’s What She Read is a specializes in romance.

Monica Walters, left, owns That's What She Read. Her sister-in-law Breann Walters works with her at the store.

“This bookshop tour gives us the opportunity to get our name out there and meet new, amazing bookish friends,” That’s What She Read owner Monica Walters said. “We’re also in the process of transitioning to a mobile bookstore which is exciting for us to share with people as well. We can’t wait to meet new collaborative partners and fellow bookish people from all over the state of Iowa and beyond.”

One area bookseller has been in business for nearly a decade. Retired teacher Sandy Schubert owns Hedgie’s Books, Toys & More in Bedford.

“This tour not only serves to expose people to the amazing bookstores that are located in the state of Iowa, but also to the wonderful communities, businesses and tourist opportunities that exist right here in our great state,” Schubert said. “Many people still believe that bookstores are a dying breed, when in fact the opposite is true. I am excited to welcome people to my charming community and who knows, maybe I will inspire someone to take a chance and follow their own dream.”

The event was created with this exploration in mind. Next to all the locations listed at iowaindiebookshoptour.com are local recommendations given by the booksellers themselves.

“If you’re looking for a local coffee shop, a place to stop for dinner, go shopping or maybe go for a hike between going from one bookstore to another, they have recommendations for that,” Green Dragon owner Coriann Theroux said. “We really wanted to create a sense of community and community events while we offer this program.”

Those who visit all 36 locations will be entered to win a $300 grand prize or $100 runner-up prize. All entries are eligible to win five $50 prizes. A social media prize of $50 will be drawn from posts with #iowaindiebookshoptour that tag the bookshop visited. The prizes are paid out in gift cards to the bookstore of the winner’s choosing.

The locations are divided into three regions — North, South and Central. The stores in Creston, Mount Ayr, Bedford and Brick Road Books in Winterset are all in the South Region.

The Latest Edition is open 10-6 Thursday and Friday and 10-2 Saturdays.

That’s What She Read is open 10-5 Tuesday and Thursday, 10-6 Wednesday and Friday and 10-2 Saturdays.

Hedgie’s is open 9-5:30 Tuesdays through Fridays and 9-3 on Saturdays.

Brick Road Books is open 12-4 Thursdays and Fridays and 9-2 Saturdays.


Brick Road Books - Winterset

Hedgie’s Books, Toys, & More - Bedford

That’s What She Read - Mount Ayr

The Latest Edition Bookstore - Creston

Book Vault - Oskaloosa

The Haunted Bookshop - Iowa City

Captain’s Book Shoppe - Iowa City

Sidekick Coffee & Books - Iowa City

Burlington by the Book - Burlington

Bent Oak Books - Fort Madison

The Brewed Book - Davenport


The Book Shoppe - Boone

Dog-Eared Books - Ames

Dungeon’s Gate - Ankeny

Beaverdale Books - Des Moines

Raccoon River Press - Des Moines

Storyhouse Bookpub - Des Moines

The Little Book - Des Moines

Reading in Public Bookstore - Des Moines

Pageturners Bookstore - Indianola

The Curiousity Shop - Pella

Pioneer Bookshop - Grinnell


The Book Vine - Cherokee

Books and Bakery - Carroll

The Green Dragon Bookshop - Fort Dodge

Three Bell Books - Mason City

Prologue Books and Wine - Charles City

Dragonfly Books - Decorah

The Silver Birch - Decorah

River Lights Bookstore - Dubuque

Paper Moon - McGregor

The BookWorm Bookstore & More - Bellevue

Swamp Fox Bookstore - Marion

Alter Ego Comics - Marion

HEA Book Boutique - Marion

Next Page Books - Cedar Rapids

Cheyenne Roche


Originally from Wisconsin, Cheyenne has a journalism and political science degree from UW-Eau Claire and a passion for reading and learning. She lives in Creston with her husband and their two little dogs.