There’s nothing quite like sitting by yourself in a park on a summer’s day, opening up a novel and getting a whiff of that new book smell. Better still, buying a new book and supporting a local business at the same time.
There are also few places with a broader selection of eclectic and unique independent bookshops than the capital. Thankfully, not only did indie bookshops manage to remain strong following the dire high street fall out from Covid-19 and a brutal costing of living crisis, their numbers across the UK are actually growing. Earlier this year, the Booksellers Association (BA) reported that there were 1,072 shops at the end of 2022, up from 1,027 in 2021. Considering there were just 867 in 2016, the latest stats are a big win for the book community.
Among the new independents that opened last year were Backstory in Balham and Jam Bookshop in Shoreditch. Keep scrolling below to find your local literary haunt.
Pages of Hackney, Hackney
Nestled on East London’s Lower Clapton Road, Pages of Hackney stocks an eclectic selection of modern and classic fiction, political, environment, art, cookery and children’s books as well as second-hand books. Since 2015 their basement has also been home to Fields Books, which spotlights a an expansive selection of second-hand books that have been curated by Patrick Mills.
To order, email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit pagesofhackney.co.uk
Burley Fisher Books, Haggerston
From the people behind Camden Lock Books, Burley Fisher Books is an independent bookshop and cafe in Haggerston. It was crowned London’s Best Independent Bookshop in 2021, and experienced their best year ever in 2020 thanks to their innovative delivery service by biking books straight to people’s door while they were isolating. Nowadays the self-described community book space is open 10am-6pm Mondays-Saturday and 12-6pm on Sundays.
To order, email email@example.com and visit burleyfisherbooks.com
Brick Lane Bookshop, Tower Hamlets
Specialising in fiction, London-based books, non-fiction, poetry, travel, classics and children’s books, Brick Lane Bookshop has re-opened as a ‘take-away’ store but is offering free delivery within Tower Hamlets and can post anywhere in the UK. It’s also holds an annual short story competition, looking for new, exciting and diverse voices. First prize is £1,000 and the winners and long listed entrants’ stories will be published in the Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize anthology in October 2023.
To order, email firstname.lastname@example.org and for more on the short story competition, visit bricklanebookshop.org
The All Good Bookshop, Wood Green
A cooperative bookshop in Wood Green, The All Good Bookshop is currently delivering to locals and offering pick up orders as well. The store opened in 2019 after the local bookshop closed down and the owner, Tim, wanted a space where the community could shop for books. Now located on 35 Turnpike Lane, simply email or tweet your order and they’ll see what they can do.
To order, tweet @allgoodbookshop and visit allgoodbookshop.com
Daunt Books, various London locations
One of central London’s most beloved bookshops reopened to bibliophiles on June 15. Its five London locations, including the original Edwardian bookshop on Marylebone High Street, also ships orders UK-wide for free if the customer spends over £40.
To order, visit Daunt Books contact page for the shop closest to you dauntbooks.co.uk
Dulwich Books, West Dulwich
An award-winning bookstore that has been serving the local community for three decades, while Dulwich Books offers free delivery in the local area and can offer same-day delivery if the book is in stock. With over 4,500 titles, they also specialise in providing lots of fantastic recommendations that haven’t been found by BookTok (yet).
To order, call the shop on 0208 6701920 or email email@example.com and visit dulwichbooks.co.uk
South Kensington Books, South Kensington
South Kensington Books was recently shortlisted as Indie Bookshop of the year at The British Book Awards. It stocks new releases like exclusive Independent Bookshop editions of Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light and has sat at 22 Thurloe Street since the 1940s.
To order, email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit kensingtonbooks.co.uk
Newham Bookshop, Newham
Established in 1978, half of Newham Bookshop is dedicated to children’s books while the other half stocks an eclectic collection - from bilingual dictionaries to books on social studies and fiction novels. According to their website, they were founded “to bring the joy of reading and owning books to a poor area of east London, and has become an essential cultural hub.” Keep an eye out on their Twitter for their fantastic programme of events.
To order, call 020 8552 9993 between 10am and 5pm, email email@example.com and visit newhambooks.co.uk
Pickled Pepper Books, Crouch End
A specialist interactive children’s bookshop in Crouch End, during the week they host preschool activities and an after school run Young Illustrators club for their local community. While most weekends you can meet an author or illustrator, experience some theatre or come along to a story time.
To order, tweet them at @pickledbooks, email at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit pickledpepperbooks.co.uk
Owl Bookshop, Kentish Town
Open for customers in the Kentish Town area, Owl Bookshop boasts incredible author events, lively window displays and a rather spacious kids’ section perfect for parents looking to entertain young bookworms.
To order, call 020 7485 7793 and visit owlbookshop.co.uk
New Beacon Books, Finsbury Park
Founded in 1966, New Beacon Books is the UK’s first specialist black bookshop, and one of the most historically important indie sellers in the capital. Despite briefly having to close in 2016, a huge crowd-funding effort revived the shop last year and it now has an online as well as physical space at its original location on Stroud Green Road.
To order, visit newbeaconbooks.com
There is a reason by bookworms across the capital rave about Bookbar. Functioning as a coffee shop, wine bar and bookshop, it has quickly become a cult favourite. Renowned for its literary events, you can find live music, book launches, readings, wine tastings and even speed-dating.
To order, visit bookbaruk.com