Best bookshops in London

Whatever book you want to read, you're sure to find it in London's bookshops, second-hand bookshops or book markets.

Browse for books in London's best bookstores, from specialist bookshops and book markets for rare treasures, to second-hand bookstores, academic bookshops and high street chains.

London has every shop a book lover could possibly need for browsing, reading or shopping for gifts.   

1. Foyles

Bookshelves inside Foyles Charing Cross Road.
Bookshelves inside Foyles Charing Cross Road. Photo: David Butler. Image courtesy of Foyles.

Browse your way around four miles (6.5km) of book shelves, housing more than 200,000 titles at the world-famous London bookshop, Foyles. This vast bookshop has six floors crammed with every kind of book imaginable. As well as stocking one of the UK's largest ranges of books, this flagship store has a cafe, an auditorium and a gallery, and hosts literary and music events. It’s also home to Ray’s Jazz, a specialist music store selling vinyl and CDs.

2. Daunt Books

Daunt Books is an Edwardian bookshop on Marylebone High Street that is nothing short of glorious, with long oak galleries and soaring windows. Books are arranged by country, rather than alphabetically, so guides, maps, non fiction and fiction all sit alongside one another, for a unique browsing experience.

3. Goldsboro Books

Tucked away on a side street in central London's West End, Goldsboro Books is the bookshop for book collectors who love rare first editions, especially if they are signed. For example, this was the only bookshop in the world to have signed copies of The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (also known as J.K. Rowling).

4. Lutyens and Rubinstein Bookshop

Books window display at Lutyens & Rubinstein.
Window display at Lutyens & Rubinstein. Photo: Mia Rose. Image courtesy of Lutyens & Rubinstein.

As well as a broad range of titles in art, poetry and children's books, Lutyens and Rubinstein Bookshop in west London's Notting Hill neighbourhood is also the place to shop for art prints, stationary and small gifts, to take home inside one of the shop’s signature reusable tote bags.

5. New Beacon Books

Browse works by Black authors from across the globe at New Beacon Books, the UK’s first bookshop and publishing house specialising in Black British, Caribbean, African, African-American and Asian literature. Founded in 1966 by activists, John La Rose and Sarah White, this north London bookshop stocks a range of fiction, non fiction, children’s books and gifts. Look out for evening events including book launches and signings.

6. Hatchards

No bibliophile's trip to London is complete without visiting Hatchards on Piccadilly, the oldest bookstore in the UK. Established in 1797 on the same premises it occupies today, Hatchards stocks a large range of fiction and non fiction publications, as well as signed and special editions. There's also a dedicated section on religious books.

7. Libreria

Arguably one of the city’s most stylish bookshops, east London's Libreria is a literary labyrinth featuring books stacked floor to ceiling on bright yellow shelves. Books are arranged into themes designed to encourage exploration, including Wanderlust and Enchantment, and chairs and reading nooks invite visitors to linger. Regular events include open mic poetry evenings, intimate dinners and live podcast recordings.

8. Shapero Rare Books

Bookshelves and illustrations on the walls at Shapero Rare Books.
Bookshelves at Shapero Rare Books. Image courtesy of Shapero Rare Books.
Visit Mayfair and find Shapero Rare Books, one of London's leading antiquarian bookshops. This shop specialises in travel, natural history, English literature and continental books. Whether you're looking for rare editions, antique maps or vintage photographs, you'll find it here. The store also does valuations if you have books to sell.

9. Southbank Centre Book Market

Underneath Waterloo Bridge on Queen's Walk, the Southbank Centre Book Market is a fantastic place to browse a huge selection of second-hand books. Just outside BFI Southbank, it's open daily, come rain or shine, and you can browse for hours through hundreds of second-hand and antique books, on any topic imaginable.

10. Stanfords

Stanfords is a must-visit for lovers of travel books and has been trading in Covent Garden since 1853. The shop stocks one of the world's largest selection of maps and travel books under one roof. Famous customers over the years include Captain Scott and Florence Nightingale, so you'll be in good company shopping here!

11. Waterstones Piccadilly

A literary shopping paradise, Waterstones Piccadilly is one of Europe's largest bookshops. Spread over eight floors, it's more than just a bookshop. As well as more than eight miles (13km) of book shelves, there's the 5th View bar and restaurant, a gift shop and regular events like book signings with famous authors, artists, musicians, politicians and sports stars.

12. Word on the Water

For something a little different, browse for books at London’s only floating bookshop, Word on the Water, housed in a restored 1920s Dutch barge in King’s Cross. Stuffed full of new and second-hand classics and contemporary books, this indie bookshop plays host to regular events up on the barge roof, including poetry slams and live music.

Books about London

Take some inspiration on what to buy from books set in London. Pick up classic works such as Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Michael Bond’s A Bear Called Paddington. Or find London books based in modern times, including White Teeth by Zadie Smith, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Monica Ali’s Brick Lane.

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