off topic 1: bookshops in london

Off topic is a new section in this blog: topics not particularly about to graphic and typography but somehow related. In this case Pedro Arilla,* a close friend and type designer who is visiting London this Christmas, asked me about second hand bookshops in London. I could have sent him a list of bookshops but I though it was funnier to dedicate him a short text about the ones I know (thanks Sébastien for the bookshop–walk!).

However, this does not pretend to be a list of every bookshop in London, but a small recommendation of some bookshops in Central London, within a walking distance and affordable to visit in a short trip to London.

In the writing of this text I come across with other interesting lists of bookshops: The ImprintThe London Bookshop Map, I love this one, they also have a printed map with all the independent bookshops in London; London Art Bookshops (Spanish & English by Sara de la Mora).

Updated 12 May, 2013: Dover Books to be closed soon, if not closed already.

Updated 29 December, 2014, a very good list of bookshops in Bloomsbury, here.

Update 14 July, 2015, the evocative photographs of antiquarian bookshops in London, taken by The Gentle Author in 1971, some of ones, the survival ones, are mention in this blog’s list, check them here.

Covent Garden area

Magma Books: a nice place to find mainstream new books, particularly beautiful books, picture books, and magazines. There is new Magma in the same street with every little detail for the graphic designer (block-notes, pencils, calendars, postcards…). In 8 Earlham Road

The Dover Bookshop: the website is self explanatory: “As specialists in historical graphic and commercial art and illustration, we are dedicated to providing the best possible range of copyright and permission free material in book form and on CD.” Its a peculiar bookstore, worth to take a look. Its located in the same street as Magma Books, in 18 Earlham Road

Charing Cross area

In Charing Cross, a few minutes from Covent Garden, one can find many bookshops, second hand and new.

Any Amount of Books: Rare books, first editions, modern literature, art, poetry, scholarly/academic books, antiquarian, leather bound sets, general stock. If I am not wrong the printing section it’s downstairs. In 
56 Charing Cross Road

Henry Pordes Books: Arts, cinema and theatre. Look for books at your right when entering in the shop. In 
58-60 Charing Cross Road

Quinto Bookshop: At your right, really cheap books. The ground floor is home to Francis Edwards Antiquarian Booksellers, specialists in rare and antiquarian books since 1855. At 72 Charing Cross Road

Koenig Books: Independent bookshop with contemporary art, photography, architecture, design. All those beautiful books of desire. At 80 Charing Cross Road.

Foyles: Five floors containing every possible title. In 113-119 Charing Cross Road

Cecil Court area

Cecil Court is a small and beautiful street off Charing Cross. Most of the shops here are bookshops and antiquarians. They are all amazing, but some of them are also amazingly expensive. And has it owns website:

Storeys Ltd Antiquarian engravings, maps and prints. At 1 & 3 Cecil Court

Pinda Bryars Books Antiquarian books including early printing, classics, history, literature, detective fiction, art and travel. At 7 Cecil Court

Tim Bryars 
Early printed books, classical texts and translations, atlases and maps of all regions, mostly pre 1800, 8 Cecil Court

Tindley and Chapman 

 Twentieth Century first editions and architecture. In 4 Cecil Court

David Drummond at Pleasures of Past Times 

Books, playbills and bygones of the performing arts, also illustrated and children’s books pre 1940, Victorian and postcards. In 11 Cecil Court


Children’s and illustrated books. In 16 Cecil Court

Travis and Emery Books on Music 
New and old books on music, secondhand and antiquarian music, opera programs, prints and photographs, prints, playbills, libretti. 17 Cecil Court

Goldsboro Books; 

First editions. In 23 & 25 Cecil Court

Stephen Poole Fine Books: 
Literary first editions of the 19th and 20th centuries. 27 Cecil Court

British Museum area

Close to the British Museum, walking 5-10 mins from Charing Cross, there are some other interesting bookshops, but one in particular should be a pilgrimage for anyone interested in type.

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Collinge and Clark 

 This is the one and only bookshop in second hand and typography. A must: Private press, typography, British history. It has estrange  opening times, check before visiting. In 13 Leigh Street

London’s broadest selection of secondhand academic books, the UK’s widest range in philosophy and large collections of modern literature, art, history, politics, economics, classics, science and technology. In 66 The Brunswick

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Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers: 
Dickens first editions, the Romantics & theatre. 46 Great Russell Street


* Pedro Arilla is the man behind the Spanish blog Don Serifa, about typography, he is a type designer and his recent Valentina font has resulted in quite a succes. Follow him in his personal blog, in Don Serifa, and in his twitter.