THE GOOD SHOPPER
1. London Review Bookshop
Housing a 20,000-strong selection of books that are ‘intelligent without being pompous’, it’s easy to while away an afternoon at the London Review Bookshop. Located just around the corner from the British Museum, this is a shop where serious literature lovers meet to chat over coffee and cake – it’s worth going for the people watching alone. Titles range from the classics of world literature to contemporary fiction and poetry, not forgetting a copious display of history, politics, philosophy, cookery and children’s books.
London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, London, WC1A 2JL
2. Skoob Books
For an even broader selection, Skoob Books stocks over 55,000 different titles, 5,000 of which are replaced every month. The books are second-hand and are priced at half of what they’d cost new, and there are some fascinating finds to be had. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, another million books are stashed in a warehouse in Oxfordshire, and can be delivered to the shop within a couple of days. It’s organised chaos, but that’s part of the fun.
Skoob Books, 66 The Brunswick, off Marchmont Street, London, WC1N 1AE
3. Judd Books
The books are stocked so high in Judd Books that stepladders are provided to help customers reach the upper shelves. The shop stocks over 50,000 new and used titles – mainly academic – over two floors. Literature, art, film, media, architecture and music are on the ground floor, while the considerably larger downstairs has history, philosophy, economics, politics and international relations. Lots of books are published by Bloomsbury.
Judd Books, 82 Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 1AG
4. Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers
Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers (named after the protagonist in Dickens’ Bleak House) is a leading specialist in 18th and particularly 19th century English literature and history, just off Great Russell Street. The shop publishes eight catalogues a year covering a wide variety of subjects including Books & Pamphlets, Books in Translation, Bloods and Penny Dreadfuls, Chapbooks & Broadsides, Yellowback novels, Plays & Theatre, and Newspapers. A great place to get comfortable, the shop still features the original working fireplace.
Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, 46 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3PA
5. Persephone Books
The Observer once described Persephone Books as ‘The nearest thing British publishing has to a cult.’ Founded in 1999 by Nicola Beuaman, Persephone reprints neglected mid-twentieth century fiction and non-fiction by (mostly) women writers – a strict edit that reflects Beaumont’s selective taste. Each of the publisher’s 117 books has a recognisable grey cover – akin to Penguin’s orange covers – and a fabric endpaper. Visit the store on Lamb’s Conduit Street to get a real feel for Beaumont’s vision.
Persephone Books, 59 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3NB
6. Treadwell's Bookshop
It’s not every day that you come across a bookshop like Treadwell’s, ‘The specialist bookshop for the practising occultist and wizard.’ Selling books on everything from alchemy and folklore to Taoism and Greek mythology, Treadwell’s is legendary and a trip to Bloomsbury wouldn’t be complete without popping in. They also have a programme of fascinating evening events – all weird and wonderful.
Treadwell's Bookshop, 33 Store Street, London, WC1E 7BS
7. Gay's the Word Book Shop
The UK’s first gay bookshop, Gay’s the Word, was established in 1979 and has lost none of its appeal. Since its opening, the shop has survived having its stock seized on the grounds of indecency, soaring rent and unfriendly council policies. Yet it remains, as popular as ever, and today you’ll find a diverse array of titles along with a loyal clientele.
Gay's the Word Book Shop, 66 Marchmont Street, London, WC1N 1AB UK
8. Charing Cross Road's - Antiquarian Bookshops
A stone’s throw from Bloomsbury, Charing Cross Road is renowned for its antiquarian bookshops. The former stomping ground of literary greats such as Dylan Thomas and Auberon Waugh, the area has everything from signed first-editions (Goldsboro Books) and leather-bound books for decoration (Any Amount of Books), to German art books (Koenig) and books on all things music-related – especially sheet music (Travis and Emery). These shops are of a dying breed so be sure to visit while you still can.
Charing Cross Road, London