The 100 best shops in London â bookshops
London’s best bookshops, from non-fiction to graphic-novel specialists
Literary Londoners are spoilt for choice as we search out the capital’s finest bookshops, from vast flagships to the one-off indie stores just begging to be browsed.
The best book shops in London
113-119 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0EB
Number 16 in the full list
This well-loved indie – one of Europe’s largest bookshops – has seen off intense competition in recent years (eg the demise of Borders) with a pleasingly simple approach to bookselling: great stock, fair prices and knowledgeable service. Its vast catalogue of music and books extends to graphic novels and comics (attracting a delightfully nerdy gaggle of readers) and a huge array of art, fashion and contemporary culture magazines. Foyles Café, up on the second floor, is a brilliantly bohemian spot to thumb through a classic over coffee. Read more about Foyles
Recommended by: Steve Lazarides.
121-125 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0EW
Number 28 in the full list
Although situated on Charing Cross Road among other fine London book stores, Claire de Rouen is a little bit different, firstly because it sits above a sex shop, and secondly because it has a resident Pug called Otis. It’s also the most specialist fashion and photography book store in the capital, offering rare and out-of-print volumes, signed copies and unusual magazines as well as a small hanging space for up-and-coming photographers to exhibit their works. Read more about Claire de Rouen Books
Recommended by: Navaz Batliwalla, Christopher Shannon and Johnnie Sapong.
83 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 4QW
Number 40 in the full list
The Marylebone branch of Daunt looks more like an Oxbridge college library than a bookshop – not least because of its beautiful atrium. To join the hordes of smug Daunt-aficionados, buy one of its green tote bags – best paired with a coffee from Paul. Read more about Daunt Books
Recommended by: Jackie Dixon.
117-119 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R 5BY
Number 41 in the full list
Despite two London shops and a store in Manchester, Magma still manages to fit the independent shop bill with its quirky design books, magazines, gifts and toys. The shop of choice for graphics students (especially the Clerkenwell branch) and fans of edgy magazines, it’s a small but jam-packed store with a delightful hint of geeky model shop about it. Read more about Magma
77 Broadway Market, London, E8 4PH
Number 45 in the full list
This tiny Broadway Market bookseller has a perfectly idiosyncratic edit of art, photography and music books – many of them rare, out-of-print, counterculture oddities – that feels more like the private collection of the owner (Conor Donlon) than the contents of your usual customer-facing bookshop. Don’t be shy to ask for something specific – and look out for the odd surprise: Conor’s personal collection of John Waters memorabilia recently made it to the shelves and included a box of ‘Cry Baby’ branded tissues and a baseball cap from ‘Serial Mom’. Read more about Donlon Books
Recommended by: Peter Jensen.
66 Marchmont Street, London, WC1N 1AB
Number 60 in the full list
Providing you hadn’t noticed the name of this bookshop, Gay’s the Word could be mistaken for a small community library with its slightly rough-around-the-edges shop fit. Having said that, it has a wide range of fiction, biography, non-fiction and a loyal following, being the first, and remarkably, the only gay and lesbian bookshop in the UK. It also has a packed calendar of signings, readings, parties and discussion groups; it’s truly a fine example of how an independent bookshop should be. Read more about Gay's the Word
Elgin Crescent, London, W11 2HX
Number 96 in the full list
West London isn’t all about vintage clothing and fashion shopping. This newsagency, a literal stone's throw (but don’t do that) from Portobello Market, stocks an impressive selection of super shiny international magazines – from Love and Tank to 10 and 10 Men, as well as local 'zines, pick 'n’ mix and Froggy Fortune scratchcards. What more could you want? Read more about Rococo News & Magazines