The Big Smoke is home to many a great attraction, whether you’re looking for fine dining experiences, stunning panoramas of the city, historical monuments or a dash of culture. What is also has in abundance is a swarm of bookshops, all stocked to the shelf edge with a dazzling selection of the written word. Bibliophiles can rejoice in a Capital full of interesting and special stores, with all interests accounted for, no matter the niche your interests lie in. So whether you’re interested in discovering gems unique to London, or simply want to know what store is best to find all your recommended reading for this academic year, then read on to discover where should be frequenting.
The everything you need bookshops
Daunt Books is a London local chain which first began specialising in travel and still has a strong interest in the genre now. The beautiful Edwardian store in Marylebone is particularly recommended, with stained glass windows and oak balconies blanketing row upon row of books. The staff have a strong interest in what they do and their personal recommendations can always be relied upon.
Another London specific chain, Foyles’ flagship stores in Charing Cross is, in one word, massive. In the past it sold second-hand books but now mainly focuses on books in print, with an extensive selection on any selected author. The store holds many live events , has a high-end cafe and a curated art space.
Lutyens and Rubinstein
A joy to peruse in, Lutyens and Rubinstein was established by two literary agents in 2009 and simply focuses on providing excellent books. Not only this, but the bookshop also stocks the shops own brand bags, as well as artwork, preserves and stationery. One of the prettiest nooks in this list, an opportunity to visit this store should definitely not be passed up.
The best for art bookshops
With a speciality in art, architecture and photography, Koenig is a heaven for art aficionados looking to increase the amount of tomes on their bookshelves and coffee tables. There are two locations to choose from, including the Serpentine Gallery location and the Whitechapel Gallery Bookshop, which is managed by the company.
Nestled in the hub that is Covent Garden, Magma sells a wide range of products, from independently published books to art prints, tote bags, games and toys, and the companies own contemporary art magazine, Elephant.
Luminous is an ever-shifting shop, moving from one location to another and modifying its available stock to reflect it’s most recent surroundings. The shop takes part in The London Art Book Fair, Room&Room Art Book Fair and Three Letter Words fair, hosting a series of talks and events as it progresses through the year.
The fashion fan’s bookshops
Claire de Rouen
Nestled above a William Hill on Charing Cross Road, the tucked away treasure of Claire de Rouen is an obvious shrine to the gods that are fashion and photography. With a labyrinthine entrance and a consortium of A list celebrity fans, this bookshop is the creme de la creme when it comes to literary fashion insight.
With their close proximity to the cool and cultural in Hoxton, Artwords know what they’re on about when it comes to books concerning the art world. Specialising in contemporary visual arts and culture, they cover an array of subjects and also have a good selection of magazines, as well as visual and critical theory.
Bookshops for comics and sci-fi
With a range of comic books second-to-none, Gosh! is the go to haven for for those that love to delve into the world of illustration. There’s everything you could ask for if you’re invested in the medium, with vintage children’s books, contemporary graphic fiction, manga, small press and cult comics in supply.
The world’s largest supplier of the most well-known sci-fi, fantasy and cult items and the largest UK stockist of the most recent comics and graphic novels, Forbidden Planet specialises in any form of film merchandise you may be after, with books and comics being just the tip of the iceberg.
The Japan Centre offers an extensive supply of all things Japanese, including manga, Japanese language, cuisine and travel books. It also offers Japanese magazines. There is a mix of manga in English or the original Japanese and, though not extensive, offers the more popular titles.
Books for Cooks
Cooking up a storm whilst providing an abundant supply of cook books from around the globe, Books for Cooks have figured out the ideal recipe for any food lover. With a bookshop full of texts influenced by a world of individual tastes and ingredients, Books for Cooks also features a small kitchen serving recipes from the cookbooks from Tuesday to Saturday.
Featuring books by female writers, Persephone Books likes to reclaim books that have been out of print and present them in a grey jacket which is uniform throughout their stock. The grey jacket on the book is, at least Persephone claim, indicative of a good read, and the shop is located in Bloomsbury.
Gay’s The Word
Established in a time when it was still difficult to come across gay and lesbian literature through the usual channels, Gay’s The Word prides itself on supplying an extensive library of both books and magazines that belong to the genre. Now the only surviving gay bookshop in the UK,the shop is located close to the British Library on the edge of Bloomsbury and is well worth a visit.
Have we missed your favourite London bookshop? Let us know your favourite in the comments section.