It’s World Book Day! And as we love nothing more than losing ourselves in a detective tale, reliving the raucous rock and roll days through a music memoir, or allowing our mind to escape to a fictional land, we’ve rounded up the 12 best independent bookshops in London.

From first-edition literary classics to educational stories, contemporary classics to children’s novels here’s what we found. And if you’re looking for recommendations on what to buy, check out our list of the best new releases in 2024.

Daunt Books

Aside from their infamous tote bags and aesthetically pleasing interior – which is surely the most Instagrammed in London – Daunt Books is widely known for their endless selection of books centred around one poignant theme: travel. Arranged by country, the littering of London branches helps to educate, inspire, and ignite your passion for travel. 

Various Locations
www.dauntbooks.co.uk

 
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Lutyens & Rubinstein 

Lutyens & Rubinstein has one core value: that every book stocked is on the shelf because somebody adores and wholeheartedly recommends it.

Whether you’re a sucker for crime fiction, can’t get enough of a summer romance novel, or simply adore the classics, Lutyens & Rubinstein have you covered with their wide selection. They also have a whole selection of other trinkets and essentials, from stationery and cards to paperweights.

Every book stocked is on the shelf because somebody adores and wholeheartedly recommends it.

21 Kensington Park Road, Kensington, W11 2EU
www.lutyensrubinstein.co.uk

Heywood Hill

Heywood Hill has crafted itself into part of Mayfair’s thriving history. This little bookshop’s history stems back to 1936 when Heywood Hill first opened his dream bookshop and specialised in both old and new books, as well as housing curious objects and trinkets.

Its history seeps deep into WWII too, as novelist Nancy Mitford found her literary love while working at the store. It’s thanks to Mitford that the bookshop became adored by the English social and literary circle during the 1940s. Years later the team now still honour its roots, with a mix of old, new, and antiquarian books on offer.

10 Curzon Street, Mayfair, W1J 5HH
www.heywoodhill.com

Persephone Books

Unlock a piece of history as you step your foot inside Conduit Street’s Persephone Books. 

Founded by Nicola Beauman, Persephone Books is a bookshop that prides itself on bringing the untold stories of female writers to light. From novels to short stories, memoirs to cookery books, Persephone Books reprints fiction and non-fiction books written by mid-twentieth century writers. Home to 137 books, every book is a story that’s steeped with history, and all of these stories can finally be brought to the forefront of people’s minds at Persephone Books.

Persephone Books is a bookshop that prides itself on bringing the untold stories of female writers to light.

59 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB
www.persephonebooks.co.uk

London Review Bookshop

Opened in 2003 by the ​London Review of Books in the heart of Bloomsbury, just a stone’s throw from the British Museum, the London Review Bookshop has quickly become one of the capital’s favourites. 

Browse its selection of over 20,000 titles ranging from the classics of world literature to the cutting edge of contemporary fiction and poetry, before refuelling with coffee and a treat from the cake shop.

14-16 Bury Pl, London WC1A 2JL
londonreviewbookshop.com

Peter Harrington

From seventeenth-century Shakespeare folios to inscribed first editions of the Harry Potter series, only the best literary works come through the doors at Peter Harrington. Now half a century since its establishment and with two shops under its belt, Peter Harrington is still a much-loved bookshop, specialising in literature, economics, politics and philosophy, travel, navigation, military history, science and medicine, children’s books, fine library sets. The selection is on the more expensive side, but even if you can’t spend your pennies it’s definitely worth the visit to see some of the most famous first editions in the world. 

It’s definitely worth the visit to see some of the most famous first editions in the world.

43 Dover Street, Mayfair, W1S 4FF
www.peterharrington.co.uk

Gay’s The Word

Having first opened its doors in 1979, Gay’s The Word is the UK’s only specifically lesbian and gay bookstore and houses a range of literary works exploring the crime, romance, and non-fiction genres.

As well as providing LGBT literature to local libraries, youth groups, and academic institutions, the independent bookshop also hosts regular talk panels, discussion groups, and events helping to keep the lively, community spirit atmosphere alive. The shop also has a huge LGBT film collection you can explore too.

66 Marchmont Street, St. Pancras, WC1N 1AB
www.gaystheword.co.uk

Word On The Water – The London Bookbarge

And the strangest bookshop award goes to… Word on the Water. 

Word on the Water: The London Bookbarge is London’s only floating bookshop and sells top-quality new and secondhand books, ranging from classics to children’s novels, and art history to contemporary classics. Not only does the barge specialise in books, but it also hosts regular events, including poetry slams, intimate gigs, and jazz shows to help spark your imagination and creativity.

York Way, Granary Square, Kings Cross
www.wordonthewater.co.uk

Bookbar

I don’t know who came up with this concept, but kudus. Books and wine go together like London buses and unscheduled delays, and Bookbar combines the two.

The Highbury store is all about bringing people together through books, whether that’s bespoke recommendations to suit any mood, their book club membership, or a host of live events. This is the perfect place to embrace the social side of reading.

166 Blackstock Rd, London N5 1HA
bookbaruk.com

Hatchards

Hatchards has been loved by every literary lover since opening in 1797, making its Piccadilly outpost London’s oldest bookstore. Boasting over 100,000 books in store, Hatchards is known for its first editions and a wide array of classics. Head on down and explore this historic store for yourself.

Boasting over 100,000 books in store, Hatchards is known for its first editions and wide array of classics.

Piccadilly / St. Pancras
www.hatchards.co.uk

 
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New Beacon Books

New Beacon Books’ story stems back to 1966 when John La Rose and Sarah White opened the doors and became the UK’s first black publisher, specialist bookshop, and international book distributor.

Now over 50 years later, the independent bookshop continues to help shed light on excellent literature, history, and children’s books from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, African America, Europe, South America, and Britain. Explore the wide range and discover something new.

76 Stroud Green Road, N4 3EN
www.newbeaconbooks.com

John Sandoe Books

Open since 1957, this independent bookstore stretches upwards three floors and has grown to encompass the two buildings on either side of its original store. 

Stocked with over 30,000 titles, you can find anything from 19th Century Classics, literary magazines, and new paperbacks.

10 Blacklands Terrace, London SW3 2SR
johnsandoe.com


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