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 thought 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 Imprint; The 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, someones, the survival ones, are mention in this blog’s list, check them here.
Updated 29 April 2018, unfortunately even more bookshops are now closed: Magma books, the bookshop has changed to another location, but they don’t sell books as it used to be, the one in Clerkenwell it is still there. Koening books in Charing Cross has also closed.
Covent Garden area
CLOSED: 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 magmabooks.com
CLOSED: 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.” It’s a peculiar bookstore, worth to take a look. It’s located on the same street as Magma Books, in 18 Earlham Road doverbooks.co.uk
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 anyamountofbooks.com/
Henry Pordes Books: Arts, cinema, and theatre. Look for books on your right when entering the shop. In 58-60 Charing Cross Road henrypordesbooks.com
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 quintobookshop.co.uk
CLOSED: 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 foyles.co.uk/ Foyles has moved a few numbers down the road to an amazing building.
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: cecilcourt.co.uk
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 pindabryarsbooks.co.uk/
Tim Bryars Early printed books, classical texts, and translations, atlases and maps of all regions, mostly pre 1800, 8 Cecil Court paralos.co.uk/
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. web
Marchpane Children’s and illustrated books. In 16 Cecil Court marchpane.com/
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 travis-and-emery.com
Goldsboro Books; First editions. In 23 & 25 Cecil Court goldsborobooks.com/
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.
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 collingeandclark.co.uk
London’s broadest selection of secondhand academic books, the UK’s widest range of philosophy and large collections of modern literature, art, history, politics, economics, classics, science, and technology. In 66 The Brunswick skoob.com/
Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers: Dickens first editions, the Romantics & theatre. 46 Great Russell Street jarndyce.co.uk/
* 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 success. Follow him on his personal blog, in Don Serifa, and in his twitter.