From the back streets of Cornwall's Penzance to the shores of Scotland's Moray Firth, the British Isles is a nation of bookshops.
A bookshop is a book lover's haven: towering bookshelves crammed with lost story books, manuals, limited editions, encyclopaedias and so much more. LittleDomain.com has come up with a guide to some of the most wonderful, interesting and unusual bookshops up and down the UK.
Penzance is home to the fantastically named The Edge of the World Bookshop. Located on the main street and close to the town lido, it has a solid collection of bestsellers and history books packed with stories about Cornish independence.
Other indie bookshops worth a visit are The Falmouth Bookseller and Beerwolf Books. The former caters to all kinds of readers, with them stocking fiction, children’s books and local interest titles and is an adorably quaint store with helpful staff always looking to recommend your next great read.
The latter is a popular hotspot because of a simple (but smart) concept – books and beer, a pub and bookshop combined.
Bristol is an excellent place to go on a book shopping spree. If you have a few hours to spare, head to St Nicholas Market where you can find several stalls packed to the rafters with specialist books amongst traders selling food from around the world and other special trinkets.
Be sure to add a visit to the infamous Gloucester Road to your itinerary, which has many independents in the colourful cacophony of shops, including Books for Amnesty.
Hay-on-Wye has a well-deserved reputation as Britain's literary haven. Not just an ordinary bookseller, Richard Booth’s Bookshop also has a cinema and a café to entice visitors. The cinema showcases art-house and off-mainstream films; perfect after a long day of shopping for books.
If you’re looking for something special, Addyman Books specialize in rare and out-of-print books as well as secondhand titles, so you can easily spend a couple of hours browsing the shelves.
Heart of England
Stow-on-the-Wold is a well-known tourist destination in The Cotswolds - popular for its fantastic views, walks and distinctive yellow stone buildings. It’s also home to a locally run independent shop called Jaffe and Neale.
Besides showcasing the latest releases, you can also find books covering more specialist topics, and a huge children’s section. If that wasn’t enough reason to visit, the on-site café sells locally baked cakes and hosts a series of author events.
The UK capital has more than its fair share of bookshops, be they antique, brand flagships, specialists or second-hand.
One of these is Books for Cooks – which as its name suggests, has a specific focus on all things gastronomic. With its own kitchen for live demonstrations, recipe books are certainly put through their paces in this lovingly designed, unique bookshop in the back streets of Notting Hill.
Daunt Books is a chain of bookshops in London. First opened in 1912 under a different name, James Daunt renamed it in 1990. Its Marylebone branch, specializing in travel, has a lead-lined glass ceiling, columns of shelves and balconies connected with staircases, this shop is a real experience for book lovers and fans of Edwardian literature.
Baggins Book Bazaar is England’s largest second hand and rare bookshop. It’s situated at the heart of Kent in the Medway town of Rochester. The stock is always in rotation, so its specialities alter over the course of time. They also offer a very thorough out-of-print search too.
Barter Books is housed in a Victorian-era railway station. Trains no longer stop at Alnwick, Northumberland as the tracks were ripped up decades ago, but the main hall has been restored to house one of England’s quirkiest collections of second hand books for sale. Fun fact: it also features in Anne Corlett's The Space Between the Stars.
Last on this list (but by no means least!) is Leakey’s Bookshop. Located in a former church, many of its original features have been retained including the upper stalls and stained-glass lancet windows. Central to the room is a gigantic woodburner to keep shoppers warm as they work their way through the endless aisles of books and prints.
The above list is just a taster of the beautiful and quirky bookshops around the UK. If you’re looking for more, why not check out some of the most beautiful bookshops in the world?