Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Coolest Bookshops in the UK


Nothing beats a good bookshop.

The atmosphere, the distinctive smell of new and old books, the peace and quiet, and the amusingly-titled sections ('Walthamstow Noir' was once spotted in one particularly forward-thinking East London bookshop).

Despite the onslaught of the internet, the very best bookshops have retained their places at the heart of history, and their communities: here are the 12 coolest literary havens in these fair isles.



187 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LE


We start with an old regal gent of a bookshop: Hatchards of Piccadilly has been in business since 1797 and provides books to the Queen no less - so we imagine Liz got her copy of Fifty Shades from here. In its long and distinguished history, it has served the likes of Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde and Benjamin Disraeli. Hatchards boasts six floors, a wealth of stock - including many signed and special editions - and hosts regular events. Who knows, perhaps the next Wilde is in there right now, getting ready to pen their new opus; pop along and you just might meet them.


Achins Bookshop

Inverkirkaig, Lochinver, Lairg, Sutherland, IV27 4LR

Almost certainly the UK's most remote bookshop, Achins lies 30 miles north of the extremely northern town of Ullapool and 3 miles south of Lochinver, next to the Suilven mountain. They specialise in Scottish works, have artwork and crafts available and you can even have a nice cuppa in the café. If it's scenery, inspiration, outstanding natural beauty and an extremely long drive you want, this is the bookshop for you.


St Ives Bookseller

2 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1AB


Another bookshop in a picturesque setting, this one is at the other end of the country, on a cobbled street in St Ives. Proudly independent and award-winning, it boasts signed books, special events and a wide range of titles. And, best of all, once you've bought your new book, you can read it looking out onto the bay, pasty in hand. Dreamland.


Booka Bookshop

26-28 Church Street, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY11 1TN


Yet another beautiful setting - this time in the great county of Shropshire, this bright and breezy independent bookstore boasts auxiliary sales of coffee and cake, as well as both English and Welsh titles, as befits its geographical position. However, try as we might, we can't avoid the fact that the coolest thing about Booka is its "Book and a Beer Bookclub" - two wonderful things, together in perfect harmony at last.


Daniel Crouch Rare Books

4 Bury Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6AB


The name merely hints at the treasure trove contained within, for Daniel Crouch specialises in "antique atlases, maps, plans, sea charts and voyages dating from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries". Yes, if you ever need a map for that special cartographer in your life, this is the place to go. Embark on your own voyage of discovery and head to St James's immediately.


Silverdell Books

61 Poulton Street, Kirkham, Preston, PR4 2AJ


Where Booka combines books and beer, Silverdell goes for another of life's great pleasures: ice cream, made by one of the shop's owners no less. It boasts a Vanilla Ice Cream Champion title, sells handmade chocolates and doesn't forget the small matter of books too, with lunches and signings-a-plenty. Sir Alex Ferguson visited last year; hopefully he didn't whip out the hairdyer or the 99s would have melted.


Sam Read Books

Broadgate House, Broadgate, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9TA


Yet more beauty: our eyes cannot take it. Sam Read Books boasts an enviable location, slap bang in the middle of the Lake District which is, of course, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ransome and Beatrix Potter territory. Independent since 1887, it's had just 6 owners in its history. We can see the appeal: scenery, walks and books - who would ever leave?


Word Power Books

43 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DB


The Manics sang "libraries gave us power", but they could equally have been referring to bookshops. Reminding us that the written word can do more than provide mere entertainment, Word Power Books is an unashamedly political hub of independent thought, running events and attracting the love of many Scottish authors. If you want to be shown how the pen is mightier than the sword, head down to West Nicolson Street.


Books For Cooks

4 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill, London W11 1NN


The clue is in the name: this Notting Hill bookshop boasts thousands of cooking titles plus, naturally, a café out the back - boasting a three-course lunch menu - and a kitchen upstairs, complete with cookery lessons. It's not Hugh Grant's dubiously-funded travel bookshop, but it'll do for us.


Ian Allen Bookshop

31 Royal Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1AE


If Daniel Crouch is the go-to place for maps, then Ian Allan is your man for railways, transport and military collections. If books aren't enough (and they should be), there's even models and accessories for the dedicated enthusiast. There's actually four branches in the UK, but our favourite lies within the Victorian shopping arcades of Cardiff.


Scarthin Books

The Promenade, Scarthin, Cromford, Derbyshire, DE4 3QF


For a start, it's located in one of the jewels of the British Isles - the Peak District, but that's not the best fact about Scarthins. No, that fact is that they stock the entire range of British Ordnance Survey Maps at 1 to 25,000 and 1 to 50,000. You can keep your Google Maps, you'll never get lost if you know where Scarthins is. If that wasn't enough, it has a variety of rooms stocking new and old books, musical scores a café and - brilliantly - an exhibition of 'curiosities' on the first floor. If that's not cool, we don't know what is. For a full description of their particularly quirky outlook on life, just read the frontpage of their excellent website.


Edinburgh Bookshop

219 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DH


Scottish Independent Bookshop of the Year and UK Children's Bookshop of the Year, the Edinburgh Bookshop has has won more trophies in the first half of 2014 than Manchester City. As well as the usual comprehensive stock and expert staff knowledge, extra events are to be found, including the intriguing-sounding literary speed dating. Find a good book and true love - what more could one ask for from a bookshop?




The 50 coolest books ever

hero_book covers.jpg

The 50 Coolest Book Covers

Scary Books HERO.jpg

The 30 Scariest Books Ever Written


30 Coolest Alternative Book Covers


50 pieces of wisdom from novels


30 greatest posthumous novels



Donald Ray Pollock: Inside the mind of a nightmare specialist

Modern master of disturbing prose on the moments from page & screen that made him who he is

05 Oct 2016

Harry Potter fans can now discover their Patronus

Don't lie, you want to give it a go, don't you?

by David Cornish
23 Sep 2016

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Stephen King

21 Sep 2016

Your chance to see excellent US author Donald Ray Pollock

And also have a beer! Win win

08 Sep 2016

Return to a nineties classic: Chuck Palahniuk on Fight Club

20 years since Fight Club, the author tells us how he’d rewrite his seminal novel for 2016

17 Aug 2016

Details announced for new Partridge book

'Nomad' will arrive this autumn

21 Jul 2016

13 famous books that had very different working titles

by Chris Sayer
10 Jun 2016

George RR Martin has just confirmed this brilliant GOT fan theory

A badass character gets a badass back story

by David Cornish
01 Jun 2016

Twitter account Photoshops 90s’ books to give them titles they deserve

12 Apr 2016

You're going to want these stunning new Shakespeare books

The books your bookshelf deserves

by David Cornish
12 Apr 2016