With an increasing number of people turning to the convenience of e-books, bookshops are becoming something of a dying breed. In London, however, the selection is as great as ever with some of the countries best independent shops offering a retreat for bibliophiles of all ages and interests.
If you’re after a new read or just want to while away an afternoon browsing, you’re sure to have a wonderful experience at one of London’s best bookshops.
1. The London Review Bookshop
This little independent bookshop next to the British Museum not only has a great selection of books, but also has a great café serving tea and some of the city’s best cakes. The book selection is varied, with a carefully chosen features selection placed on tables around the shop. A lot of the books are geared towards academics including history, philosophy, and politics.
14-16 Bury Pl, Bloomsbury, London, WC1A 2JL
Open 10am – 6.30pm Monday to Saturday, and 12 – 6pm Sunday
2. Daunt Books
Daunt Books offers the largest selection of travel literature in London and is also one of the most beautiful bookshops in the capital with original Edwardian oak balconies and stained glass windows. Books are arranged by country and you’ll find travel guides, fiction, maps, and other non-fiction arranged alongside each other.
83-84 Marylebone High St, London, W1U 4QW
Open 9am – 7.30p Monday to Saturday, and 11am – 6pm Sunday
3. Persephone Books
Persephone Books stocks only out of print books by mid 20th century female authors that have been republished in-house. The selection includes fiction, diaries, memoirs, and cooker books, each with beautiful wallpaper-like jackets and end papers. Any of the selection from Persephone Books would make a beautiful gift.
59 Lamb’s Conduit St, London, WC1N 3NB
Open 10am – 6pm Monday to Friday, 12 – 5pm Saturday, and closed on Sunday
The biggest bookshop in the UK is Waterstones in Piccadilly, but Foyles have them beat on selection with 200,000 titles occupying an impressive 4 miles of bookshelves. There’s also a café and gallery inside the shop and regular events such as author readings and talks.
107 Charing Cross Rd, Soho, London, WC2H 0DT
Open 9.30am – 9pm Monday to Saturday, and 11.30am – 6pm Sunday
5. Word on the Water
Word on the Water is a floating bookshop housed inside a vintage Dutch barge on Regent’s Canal. The cosy atmosphere for browsing new and second-hand books is completed with a wood burning stove and resident dog. There are also regular poetry readings and live jazz performances held on the barge.
Regent’s Canal Towpath, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4LW
Open 12 – 7pm Monday to Sunday
Libreria is inspired by the fictional library of Babel and organises books by themes like “wanderlust”, “enchantment for disenchanted” and “the city”. The system is designed to help browsers discover new books they may not have come across otherwise. The style is futuristic modern meets analogue, with curving vivid yellow wall-to-ceiling bookshelves, integrated reading nooks, a printing press in the basement, and a strict “no mobile phones allowed” rule.
65 Hanbury St, London, E1 5JP
Closed on Monday, open 11am – 6pm Tuesday to Wednesday, 11am – 9pm Thursday to Saturday, and 12 – 6pm Sunday.
Hatchards is London’s oldest bookshop and has been selling books out of Piccadilly since 1797. Famous customers from history have included Jane Austen, Lord Byron, and Oscar Wilde. The book selection offers something for everyone and it’s an inspirational place to while away a few hours.
187 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London, W1J 9LE
Open 9.30am – 8pm Monday to Saturday, and 12 – 6.30pm Sunday
Stanfords is a specialist travel bookshop and has been around since 1901. It’s a one-stop shop for lovers of travel writing, destination guides, maps, and a wide selection of travel accessories, gifts, stationery, and probably the widest selection of globes in the UK. Heaven for anyone with a touch of wanderlust.
12-14 Long Acre, London, WC2E 9LP
Open 9am – 8pm Monday to Friday, 10am – 8pm Saturday, and 11.30am – 6pm Sunday
Gosh! specialises in graphic novels including manga, superhero comics, indie publications, and vintage children’s books. The staff are friendly and helpful and there are regular in-store events such as book signings and launch parties.
1, Berwick St, Soho, London, W1F 0DR
Open 10.30am – 7pm Monday to Sunday
10. Tales On Moon Lane
If you’re looking for children’s books you’ll definitely want to check out this charming little shop specialising in books for toddlers to teens. The window display is always worth a look by itself and there are regular events held in-store including storytelling sessions, author visits, and literary festivals.
25 Half Moon Ln, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9JU
Open 9am – 5.45pm Monday to Friday, 9am – 6pm Saturday, and 10.30am – 4.30pm Sunday