Beautiful Book Shops Across Britain

In a world of kindles, nooks kobis and other electronic reading devices, there’s still nothing quite like the feel of a proper book. Even so, competition for independent bookstores is fierce when faced with online giants Amazon and high street franchises like Waterstones. Happily, it’s fantastic to see that many independent bookstores are surviving and what a treat they are to visit. Here are some of our favourites from around the British Isles.

Barter Books in Northumberland is a former railway station that boasts open fires in the Winter. The Station Buffet with good plain food, coffee, tea and cookies. A model railway acting as a link between the book columns of the central room, along with poetry lines. Three stunning 40-foot murals. A mini-cybercafé and free wi-fi. Numerous restored station features. Generous seating. A children’s room with enough toys to allow parents and grandparents to browse elsewhere in peace – provided one guardian is left to look after the children! And a whole huge room lined with over forty glass cases containing many of the more interesting antiquarian books.


The Book Shop, Wigtown, is the largest second-hand bookshop in Scotland, with over a mile of shelving supporting roughly 100,000 books.

Most days people bring books to the shop at a rate of about 100 a day on all subjects, but they also clear larger private collections.

The Bookshop

Octavia’s in Cirencester is a children’s book shop that opened in 2011. Check out the site for information on events and recommendations from the staff.

Octavia’s Book Shop

Madhatters Bookshop Burford in Oxfordshire is probably the only place in the UK you can buy a book and a hat! The milliners they represent have created hats that are regularly worn by the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton as was. They are seeking to put themselves squarely on the publishers’ maps so they can host author tours, book signings, and talks from writers of every kind.

Madhatters Book Shop

Honesty Bookshop at Hay-on-Wye has no till. All the books cost less than £1 and you pay by dropping your cash into a collection box!

Word on the Water based near Paddington station, where you can float merrily on this Dutch barge, while checking out their selection of second hand stock. They also host readings and live music on their roof stage.

Word on the Water


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