London has no shortage of bookshops and following on from my post on the most beautiful bookshops in London, I’m bringing you twelve second hand bookshops in London that you need to visit.
I think I might actually prefer shopping for second hand books because each book comes with its own history and I like imagining who the previous owners were. If there’s a note in the front or markings inside, even better!
There’s a mixture here of bookstores that sell antiquarian books and collector’s editions and those that stock normal second hand fiction. All of these shops are very quaint and very British – I just know you’ll just love them.
There’s a handy map at the end too so you can plot your next adventure!
Word On The Water
Up first is Word on the Water, one of London’s hidden gems. This bookshop is located upon a floating barge so is often referred to as London’s floating bookshop.
If you’ve ever read The Little Paris Bookshop, this is exactly what I imagine Jean Perdu’s shop to look like! (And if you haven’t read it, you absolutely should as it’s one of my favourite reads).
The barge sits permanently on Regent’s Canal at Granary Square, close to King’s Cross Station.
On summer days you’ll find lots of books splayed out on the deck but you can also head inside to check out their more valuable second hang editions. There are lots of classics as well as modern general fiction here so you’re bound to find something you’ve had your eye on.
What’s more, you never know what you’re going to get here as when I visited there was a live acoustic guitar performance happening on board! The owner is also really friendly and has an adorable dog.
Regent’s Canal Towpath
Kings Cross, London
12pm – 7pm
Hurlingham Books is one of my favourite bookshops in London and I love squeezing through the tight bookcases here. I know there are lots of beautiful bookshops in London and on this list but I think Hurlingham Books has to take top spot for me!
I’ll never forget the first time I clad eyes on this place as I meandered up the road from Putney station.
Rows and rows of books lining the shelves and windowsills outside as well as a large glass front, full to the brim with books. The facade is old and worn but in a way that reminds you of times gone by and a past London.
It’s supposed to be the oldest independent bookshop in South West London.
The bookshop is fit to burst but the amazing thing is that this isn’t even half of their collection.
They also own a warehouse 10 minutes away from the shop where over one million books are kept. Yep, one MILLION.
They stock pretty much every genre of fiction and non-fiction here and there’s a mix of those that were published decades ago and some more recent releases.
There’s no doubt in my mind you’ll find the book you’re searching for here!
91 Fulham High Street
Fulham, SW6 3JS
9am – 6pm
Foster Books is a bookstore I discovered from Instagram as many people snap pics of its beautiful green and pink facade.
On summer days the bookshop brings some of its wares out on the street where they lay out several tables and cover them with books.
It’s a beautiful sight to behold and the oldest shop on Chiswick High Street has certainly retained its charm over the years.
There are some general fiction and children’s books here but really this place is best for those who are looking for seriously old editions to collect.
It’s the sort of bookshop where you may find a first edition of your favourite read or a rare book that’s in hot demand. There’s more than just books here too with old photos, maps and magazines available for purchase.
183 Chiswick High Road
Chiswick, W4 2DR
10:30am – 5:30pm
Southbank Centre Book Market
Southbank Centre Book Market offers one of the most unique shopping experiences as it’s an outdoor book market. But don’t worry – it’s underneath Waterloo bridge so if (ok, when, since we’re in England) it rains the books don’t get wet!
The views from the bridge are pretty good too so it’s just an all round lovely experience.
They stock pretty much entirely second hand fiction here with little to no books in other genres or any collectable editions.
There’s a really large range of books here and the stock is updated frequently so you could come back every week and pick up a new read.
It’s a great place to shop for books that were released a few years ago for low prices and I’ll often find fantasy or sci-fi books I’ve had my eye on.
p.s. I’d take the information on opening times with a pinch of salt as I used to go to uni a few minutes away from here and it often wasn’t there during hours it should’ve been!
337-338 Belvedere Rd
South Bank, SE1 9PX
10am – 7pm
Black Gull Books
Black Gull Books is a quirky second hand bookshop in Camden Market. In terms of books, their stock is similar to many others on this list – most genres of both fiction and non-fiction are available here.
I’d particularly note the good selection of travel guides and crime books shelved outside the main store.
What’s a bit more unique is the dusty bookshop itself where you’ll find the oddest trinkets tucked away alongside these old tomes.
There are some strange masks lining one wall and a large railway clock hanging from the ceiling. There’s a sister store in East Finchley, which is equally quirky, and worth checking out too.
70 Camden Lock Place
Camden Town, NW1 8AF
9:30am – 6pm
Although Judd Books is a second hand bookshop, a large number of the books here are actually in new and perfect condition. But don’t worry, the prices are still discounted!
Often bookshops end up this lucky because publishers or other sellers need to shift excess copies they themselves haven’t been able to so I assume that’s what’s going on here.
However, the new stuff here was mostly made up of popular classics rather than unwanted reads so it was very hard for me not to snap them all up!
The range of general fiction here is excellent with a whole wall dedicated to recent releases and classics. Unlike most second hand bookshops, the range here is large enough that they’ve often got multiple copies of books.
Books line the walls from floor to ceiling so you may even need a ladder to reach those upper shelves.
What’s more, the staff here are super friendly and very happy to help you search for books and recommend others if what you’re looking for isn’t here.
I overheard a young man working here having a long conversation with a lady about a book she loved that they didn’t have in stock and he was very apologetic and sweetly promised to keep one under the counter should any come in.
82 Marchmont Street
Saint Pancras, WC1N 1AG
11am – 7pm
Skoob Books is just a few minutes away from Judd Books and is tucked away down a side road you’d never think to walk down if you didn’t know the shop was there.
The shop is located underground where you’ll find row upon row of bookshelves which are laden with books from every genre and every author you can think of.
This must be the largest second hand bookshop in London and its definitely got the widest selection of general fiction and classics here.
If you’re a collector of certain editions, you can expand your collection from here as they’ve got a shelf for Everyman Classics, Oxford World Classics, Oxford Classics, those iconic orange Penguin editions and more.
66 The Brunswick
off Marchmont St, WC1N 1AE
10:30am – 8pm
The Bookshop on the Heath
The Bookshop on the Heath is a must-visit for those who love old books. As soon as you walk in you are hit with that familiar smell of old pages.
There are lots of different sections and genres here but my favourite shelves had to be those wholly dedicated to old orange and blue penguin editions.
There’s some everyday reading here as well as rare books, first editions, prints, posters and collectable editions.
All the old and vintage editions they stock here are beautiful and it’s really hard to resist buying the entire shop!
Blackheath is quite far south of London but it’s a really lovely village to explore and you can combine a trip to this bookshop with a picnic in Greenwich Park.
74 Tranquil Vale
Blackheath, SE3 0BW
11am – 5:30pm
Walden Books definitely looks the most run-down out of all the books featured on this list but that’s all part of the charm. The walls surrounding the bookstore have been taken over by overhanging plants and the metal grates often left outside almost make the place look deserted!
That couldn’t be further from the truth however as this bookshop is well-loved by those in the know.
It’s pretty much the perfect second hand bookshop however as it’s quiet, run by a friendly and knowledgable man and stocks a wide variety of books.
There’s a really good range of classics here so if you’re collecting from the black Penguin Classics collection or perhaps the Oxford Classics collection then you’re in luck.
The owner updates stock fairly often too so it’s the sort of place you’ll want to keep returning to for more bookish gems. If you’re looking for places off the beaten track in London, head to Walden Books.
38 Harmood Street
London NW1 8DP
10:30am – 6:30pm
(closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesday)
Any Amount of Books
Any Amount of Books and the two that follow are all located within metres of each other on Charing Cross Road so you’ve got no excuse for not checking all three out.
Any Amount of Books has the largest collection of general fiction out of the lot and during the summer months, you’ll find books lining the outside window of the shop and the bookshelf outside the door.
What I love about this bookshop is that they’ve often got hardback copies of the latest releases at reduced prices, sometimes even a precious ARC (advance-reader-copy)!
I’m guessing there’s a literary critic or book blogger living in the area who donates them pretty promptly or they’ve got some sort of connection with a publisher as I’ve seen editions here mere days after release.
56 Charing Cross Rd
Covent Garden, WC2H 0QA
10:30am – 9:30pm
Henry Pordes Books
Next up on Charing Cross Road is Henry Pordes Books, which drew me in with the numerous first editions of Harry Potter sitting in the window.
I daren’t ask how much they cost but I imagine they’ll fetch quite a sum when they’re eventually sold. Inside, you’ll find a huge array of different second hand books.
The shop is made up of several different rooms, which all house a different genre of books. There are beautiful, vintage collectible editions of classics from Alice in Wonderland to Jane Austen in one room.
In another, you’ll find copies of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings box sets as well as modern classics. In another, there are books on films dating back decades and there’s a large section on art books too.
In the doorway, there’s a small shelf dedicated to Agatha Cristie’s works and there are some really lovely old Penguin classic editions here to choose from. They’ve also got some more modern hardbacks and paperbacks, such as books from Donna Tartt and more.
I love the layout of the store and think the range of books on offer here is great.
However, I think the prices here are steep for a second hand bookshop and so I’ve always favoured buying general fiction from one of the other two on the road.
This is a great place to shop for vintage books, so if you want to buy yourself a bookish treat or pick up a unique gift, this is a great place to look.
However, if you’re just browsing for second hand general fiction then I’d recommend going elsewhere.
For example, Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend is being sold here for £15 when it originally retailed as new for £16.99. I spotted this edition on World of Books for just £2.99 so the price difference is considerable.
Those gorgeous Agatha Christie novels cost £7 each and whilst I appreciate those editions are no longer in print, they are not in the best condition either.
For me, these seemed a little steep, especially when compared to other bookshops in London, but perhaps a book collector may feel differently.
58-60 Charing Cross Road
Covent Garden, WC2H 0BB
10:30am – 7:30pm (closed Sundays)
Quinto & Francis Edwards is actually two bookshops who share the same space in London. On the ground floor is the stunning Francis Edwards where you can admire old, Antiquarian collectable copies.
In the basement is Quinto Bookshop where they stock the super cheap classics and general fiction.
There’s a smaller selection here than at Any Amount of Books but the price point is a real winner here as paperbacks (most of which are almost new) cost just £3.
They stock a wide variety of genres here including history and literary criticism but the general fiction and classics section has plenty of gems to choose from at knock-off prices.
Quinto is a great bookshop to visit frequently to just run your eyes over their shelves as you may be able to pick up a good copy of a classic you’ve had your eye on for a while for cheaps!
72 Charing Cross Road
Covent Garden, WC2H 0BB
9am – 9pm
Book Mongers is one of the best second hand bookshops in London located south of the river. The inside is cosy and with books piled high, tucked into every nook and cranny.
There’s a bit of everything here are they cover pretty much every genre of fiction and non-fiction that you could possibly think of.
You’ll have to invest some time into exploring this bookshop as their cataloguing system is, well, non-existent. Books are arranged by genre but within that, they are not in alphabetical order so if you’re looking for a certain edition then you may be here for a while.
This is the sort of shop that you could while away an entire afternoon in just picking things off the shelves to see what they are and discovering obscure books that take your fancy.
What’s funny is that if you pop by when the bookshop is shut, the shutters have been painted to look exactly like the storefront – dog and all! Sadly Leo is no longer around but there is a new cat in store to keep book shoppers content.
439 Coldharbour Lane
Brixton, SW9 8LN
10:30am – 6:30pm
Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers is just opposite the British Library so it’s the perfect place to explore are a morning of culture.
The building dates back to the eighteenth century and still has the original period furnishings so you feel like you’ve stepped into a Dickens novel.
In fact, they specialise in eighteenth and nineteenth-century literature so there are many lovely editions of Dickens work to be found here.
A great place to browse if you’re looking for a special bookish gift or are a book collector yourself!
46 Great Russell Street
Holborn, WC1B 3PA
11am – 5:30pm (weekdays only)
Halcyon Books isn’t too far from The Bookshop on the Heath and is located in Lewisham.
This one stands out from the others simply because it has a cafe attached to the bookshop so it’s a great place to meet up with bookish friends for some book browsing and book chats.
You can choose to sit inside the bookshop itself or outside on the terrace (perfect for the summer months).
In terms of books, Halcyon don’t stand out from the rest and offer much the same with lots of different genres ranging from general fiction to classics to non-fiction.
However, the cafe is a really nice touch and the staff are friendly and helpful so it’s worth adding to your itinerary if you’re exploring south London. You never know what you might find!
266 Lee High Road
Lewisham, SE13 5PL
9am – 6pm (closed Sundays)
Pin now, read again later!
For more UK bookshops, check out these guides:
Bookshops in Oxford
Bookshops in Cambridge
Bookshops in York
Bookshops in Bath
Bookshops in Brighton
Bookshops in Edinburgh
Bookshops in Hay-on-Wye
Bookshops in Norwich
Independent Bookshops in London
Specialist Bookshops in London