If you read a lot, you’ll want to read my favourite places to grab a bargain book or five.
I went through a period of reading a new book every week or two for a year.
This can add up not only on your bookshelf, but in terms of money too.
That’s where discounted and secondhand bookshops can be a wallet saver. There’s also the additional benefit that if you don’t like the book, you didn’t pay £9.99 (we’ve all been there and made bad choices, perils of being a bookworm).
You’re also giving a used book a new lease of life. Like Phoebe saving the older Christmas trees in Friends, fulfilling their Christmas destiny.
Here are my favourite secondhand bookshops in London
Word on the Water
The bookshop on a barge
Regent’s Canal Towpath, Kings Cross – map
The most unique bookshop in London, Word on the Water floats idyllically on the Regent’s canal towpath, a stones throw from the new Coal Drop Yard – just follow the music playing.
Don’t let Word on the Water’s size fool you. You’ll find an impressive selection of classic novels and children’s books.
Then you can relax by the canal reading your booty.
Book & Comic Exchange
The bookshop where you can trade your books
30-32 Pembridge Rd , Notting Hill – map
Do you re-read your books? Running out of space for new books? Bought some bad books you want to get rid of? Then head to Book & Comic Exchange in Notting Hill near the tube station where you can sell your books (and probably buy some more while you’re there).
As well as a huge selection of books spanning across all genres, they have a back catalogue of comics and magazines too.
The Second Shelf
The bookshop celebrating female writers
14 Smith’s Ct, Soho – map
Hidden away amongst the bustling streets of Soho you’ll find a small bookshop packed from floor to ceiling with works by women.
The Second Shelf specialise in rare books, first editions and manuscripts. Perfect for finding your new favourite female writer or if you’re looking for that extra special gift of someone’s favourite book.
P.S you might be interested in these related articles about London
The bookshop with the huge selection
66 The Brunswick, off Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury – map
Skoob Books is a ten minute walk from my work, which is very dangerous. It most likely has the book you want, such is it’s vast selection. It’s website says it has a catalogue of 55,000 and I’m going to say that’s probably true.
I can’t think of a larger secondhand bookshop in Central London than Skoob Books. Their fiction selection spans around 12 bookshelves alone…
And their Plays section is a theatre aficionados heaven.
P.S. you might be interested in these related articles
The bookshop with the textbooks and coffee table books
82 Marchmont St, Bloomsbury – map
Just a minute down the road from Skoob Books is where you’ll find Judd Books. If you like visual books on topics such as art or architecture, you’ll love Judd Books. As soon as I get a coffee table, I’m raiding Judd Books. They have a great selection of used fiction books too.
They’ve made use of every space available to pack in all the books. Then I discovered their basement… Even. More. Books. And now I’m really running out of time on my lunch break
Grab a Judd Stamp Card while you’re there (you’ll be there often). Spend £10 and get one stamp. Collect 8 stamps & get £10 off your next purchase
South Kensington Books
The bookshop with the great window display
22 Thurloe St, Kensington, SW7 2LT – map
The picture perfect bookshop, South Kensington Books is a great place to stop after visiting the museums close. It’s on the way to the tube so it would be rude not to.
They have a selection of fiction and non fiction, but also great deals and signed books by authors too. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, order from Hive.co.uk and have it delivered to South Kensington Books to pick up; they receive a bit of money from the order so you’re still supporting them.
I love their Twitter feed, follow them for awesome recommendations of what to read next as they do a Book of the Week!
The bookshop with the great deal
1 Earlham St, Soho – map
Fopp aren’t second hand, but brand new books, often old editions. Fopp in Covent Gardens has an incredible selection of classics, modern fiction and non fiction. Many are two for £5 too. There are some discounted larger volumes like cooking books too under a tenner.
Gems I’ve found are Slaughter House Five (Kurt Vonnegut), Parisians (Graham Robb) and Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (Peter Biskind) to name a few.
P.S you might be interested in these related articles
The bookshop with a good cause
12 Bloomsbury St, Bloomsbury – map
Books win. Charities Win. You Win. Everyone’s a winner.
If you’re searching for antiquarian books, you’ll find a surprising selection at an even more surprising price too. As they’re a charity, you’ll find fair pricing all round. They even have a decent selection of dvds and comics/anime too.
You can also find coffee and chocolate for a discounted price, meaning you can treat yourself and feel good in more ways than one.
It’s also worth checking other Oxfam book locations of course. I found this screenplay of the Wes Anderson movie, The Life Aquatic, in Hampstead Heath. These rare screenplays are issued by the film studio in 2004 for award consideration.
Any Amount of Books
The bookshop with the £1 books
56 Charing Cross Rd – map
Their basement contains books for as little as £1 if you don’t mind/love rummaging around. They also catalogue all their books on Abe Books if you’re looking for something in particular. They have a new books section which is refreshed often. It’s location means books come and go quickly so it’s always worth seeing if they have anything new to pique your interest.
The bookshop with the clearance books
82 Gower St, Bloomsbury – map
This is my rainy day place. Five minutes from my work, I spend much of my lunchtime browsing it’s five floors.
The Gower Street branch draws you in with it’s five bookcases of second hand books outside it’s doors.
But it’s the basement where you lose track of time. That’s where you’ll find a huge range of clearance books on all topics.
P.S you might be interested in these related articles about London…
WHSmith train stations
And you can also get buy 1 get 1 half price on many classic novels at any WHSmith’s at train stations.
Didn’t find the book you were looking for?
Join the London Library (remember libraries?). Located in St. James’s Square, it’s probably going to be the nicest and prettiest library you’ve ever visited. It’s been at this location in London since 1845. It even has a stand for hats and waistcoats…
With more than a million volumes to access, I’m sure you’ll find the book your looking for here. They add 8,000 books a year to their collection so they also keep up to date with the best literature out there. Find out more about the London Library membership.
And if you’ve visited all the above and no luck? There’s always Foyles and Waterstones. Anywhere else is better than Amazon, right? Jeff Bezos has enough money! Buying from physical bookshops means we can continue having the joy of browsing.
Can you imagine a world without bookshops? Fahrenheit 451 becomes a little closer to reality…
Where are your favourite cheap and second hand bookshops in London? Tell me in the comments section below!