Vintage volumes: What are the best second-hand bookshops in London?

In the realm of literature, London’s second-hand bookshops are akin to hidden treasures tucked away in the city’s cultural landscape. Within their walls, an array of titles, genres, and histories awaits discovery.

If you’re a fellow bookworm, you’re in luck – we’re venturing into London’s finest second-hand bookshops today. These are the places where you’re most likely to discover rare volumes, forgotten classics, and pages that you only dreamt of before. 

Judd Books 

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Location: 82 Marchmont St, London WC1N 1AG, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7387 5333

Website

It’s been serving bookworms since 1992, and it’s been true to its aims that whole time. You won’t find flashy displays or polished interiors here; instead, it’s all about the books. 

Shelves upon shelves, floor to ceiling, stacked with literary treasures of all genres – from classic novels to obscure academic tomes. 

What we like best about it is that pricing is always affordable. In an age where a single new hardcover can set you back a small fortune, Judd Books offers an escape from the wallet-draining world of publishing. 

Daunt Books

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Location: 61 Cheapside, London EC2V 6AX, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7248 1117

Website

Among the bookish treasures that this vibrant city offers, there’s a star that’s been shining bright for over 30 years – Daunt Books. 

From the moment you step through its charming Edwardian doors, you’re transported to a bygone era of exploration and adventure. The shop’s interior is a masterpiece of oak galleries, skylights, and books, books, and more books.

One of Daunt Books’ claims to fame is its unique organisation system. Instead of the usual alphabetical chaos, books are grouped by country.

Skoob Books 

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Location: 66 The Brunswick off, Marchmont St, London WC1N 1AE, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7278 8760

Website

Established in 1978, Skoob Books has been serving bibliophiles for decades. What sets it apart is its volume of books. This place is a maze of shelves stacked to the ceiling with second-hand books of all genres, from classics to contemporary fiction, and everything in between.

And here’s the kicker – Skoob Books has a basement. No, not your average dusty basement, but a literary Aladdin’s cave filled with even more books. This subterranean treasure trove is where serious book hunters uncover rare finds, vintage editions, and out-of-print treasures.

Henry Pordes Books

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Location: 72 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0BB, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7836 9031

Website

Founded in 1980 by the eponymous Henry Pordes, Henry Pordes Books has been a beloved haunt for book enthusiasts and collectors ever since. When you walk through its unassuming door, you step into a world where books reign supreme.

What sets Henry Pordes Books apart is its impressive collection of rare and antiquarian books. This place is like the Gringotts of London’s literary scene, housing treasures that would make any book collector weak at the knees. 

First editions, signed copies, and beautifully bound classics – they’re all here, waiting to be discovered by avid readers and collectors alike.

Bookmongers

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Location: 439 Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8LN, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7738 4225

Website

One of the standout features of Bookmongers is its impressive selection of books. Whether you’re on the hunt for a rare edition or simply seeking your next great read, Bookmongers has something to offer.

And if you appreciate feline companionship during their reading adventures, Bookmongers often has resident cats that add an extra layer of charm to the shop. These furry friends have become beloved fixtures, and their presence adds to the shop’s unique character.

Any Amount of Books 

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Location: 56 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0QA, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7836 3697

Website

This place exudes charm like a cosy old library you’ve always dreamed of having in your own home. The narrow aisles, antique wooden shelves, and unmistakable scent of well-loved books create an atmosphere that’s as inviting as your favourite reading nook. 

And here’s a delightful quirk: their book bins outside the shop. These bins are like mini-treasure chests, offering books at incredibly affordable prices. It’s a testament to their commitment to making literature accessible to all, regardless of budget.

Foster Books 

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Location: 183 Chiswick High Rd., Chiswick, London W4 2DR, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 8995 2768

Website

Foster Books, situated in the charming neighbourhood of Chiswick, is a literary gem with a rich history dating back to 1968. Its enduring presence in the world of books speaks volumes about its dedication to the written word.

Inside, you’ll discover everything from coveted first editions of timeless classics to vintage volumes that have aged like fine wine.

Hurlingham Books

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Location: Ranelagh Gardens, 91 Fulham High St, London SW6 3JS, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7736 4363

Website

Hurlingham Books boasts an eclectic collection that spans across genres and eras. From vintage novels to contemporary fiction, history to philosophy, and everything in between, there’s a little something for every type of reader.

One of the quirkiest features of Hurlingham Books is its ever-changing window displays. Passersby are treated to a visual feast of intriguing book covers and literary themes that rotate regularly.

LLoyds of Kew

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Location: 9 Mortlake Terrace, Richmond TW9 3DT, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 8948 2556

Website

Nestled among leafy streets and just a stone’s throw away from the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, this bookshop exudes a certain quaint charm that’s hard to resist. 

The shop’s facade is adorned with ivy, giving it that enchanting, storybook feel. It’s like a page torn from a classic novel.

This bookshop specialises in natural history, gardening, and botany. Given its proximity to the Royal Botanic Gardens, it’s no surprise that Lloyds of Kew is a haven for plant enthusiasts and garden lovers. So, if you’ve got a green thumb, this is the place to be. 

Halcyon Books 

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Location: 266 Lee High Rd, London SE13 5PL, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 8318 5500

Website

Halcyon Books is a hub for collectors and enthusiasts. They offer a fantastic range of rare and collectable books, making it a magnet for serious book hunters. 

As if the cosy atmosphere and vast selection of literary wonders weren’t enough to draw you in, there’s a furry friend waiting to make your visit even more memorable.

Meet Misha, the resident canine companion of Halcyon Books. She’s known to welcome visitors with a wagging tail and a cheerful demeanour. If you’re a dog lover, your heart might just skip a beat when you meet her.

Burley Fisher Books 

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Location: 400 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AA, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7249 2263

Website

One standout feature of Burley Fisher Books is their dedication to supporting emerging writers and small presses. They champion the underdogs of the publishing world, giving voice to fresh talents and overlooked gems. 

Speaking of dogs, they also have a resident dog named Oisin. He’s a furry bibliophile that this bookshop uses to present their bestsellers of the week. So, the next time you enter Burley Fisher Books, keep an eye out for Oisín’s delightful presentations. 

Osterley Bookshop

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Location: Osterley Bookshop, 168A Thornbury Rd, Osterley, Isleworth TW7 4QE, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 8560 6206

Website

If you ever find yourself wandering the leafy suburbs of London, where the city’s hustle and bustle begin to fade into a tranquil suburban charm, you’re in for a treat if you make your way to Osterley Bookshop. 

Picture this: a quaint, old train station transformed into a haven for book lovers. Can it get any better than that?

The majority of the titles you’ll find here have that delightful vintage charm, making it a paradise for collectors and nostalgia-seekers alike. And if you’re a history buff, London’s rich past unfolds before your eyes with an extensive selection of books about the city’s own intriguing story.

Housmans 

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Location: 5 Caledonian Rd, London N1 9DY, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7837 4473

Website

Housmans has a rich history that spans over half a century. Established in 1945, this bookstore has stood the test of time, surviving the ever-evolving landscape of the book industry. It’s a piece of living history right there on Caledonian Road.

Housmans boasts an impressive collection that spans a wide range of topics. From politics and social justice to feminism and LGBTQ+ literature, this place is a treasure trove for those with a curious mind and a thirst for knowledge.

Archive Bookstore 

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Location: 83 Bell St, London NW1 6TB, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7402 8212

Website

What makes this place truly exceptional is its dual identity as both a second-hand bookstore and a haven for music enthusiasts.

Let’s talk about the books first, because, well, that’s where it all began. Archive Bookstore boasts an impressive collection that spans time and genre, but it’s their emphasis on rare and collectable editions that truly sets them apart.

Plus, they proudly stock literature in translation and obscure titles, encouraging readers to venture beyond their comfort zones and explore the uncharted territories of the literary world.

Word on the Water 

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Location: Regent’s Canal Towpath, London N1C 4LW, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 7976 886982

Website

Moored on a picturesque barge along Regent’s Canal, Word on the Water is just steps away from King’s Cross Station. That alone makes it a unique and enchanting destination. Imagine perusing books while feeling the gentle sway of the water beneath your feet. 

What’s better than enjoying a good book by the water’s edge? How about pairing it with live music? Word on the Water often hosts live music performances and literary events on its deck, turning it into a vibrant cultural hub.

Book & Comic Exchange 

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Location: 32 Pembridge Rd, London W11 3HN, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7727 2040

Website

The real magic of Book & Comic Exchange happens when you start browsing. You’ll stumble upon hidden literary gems that you never knew you needed in your life.

From rare first editions to out-of-print classics and comics dating back decades, this place is a gold mine for book collectors and curious readers alike.

Worried about breaking the bank on your bookish spree? Fear not! Book & Comic Exchange offers reasonably priced books and even accepts your old reads in exchange for store credit. It’s a win-win for both your wallet and your bookshelf.

Pages of Hackney 

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Location: 70 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, London E5 0RN, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 8525 1452

Website

Pages of Hackney go the extra mile to support independent publishers and authors. You’ll often find small press publications and zines that you won’t come across in mainstream bookstores. It’s a place where under-the-radar voices have a platform to shine.

Plus, Pages of Hackney has a rich history, dating back to the early 2000s when it first opened its doors. Over the years, it has become a beloved institution in the neighbourhood and a testament to the enduring appeal of independent bookshops in the digital age.

Southbank Centre Market 

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Location: Waterloo Bridge, London SE1 8TX, United Kingdom

Contact: 020 3879 9555

Website

The book stands at this market offer an eclectic mix of titles, from timeless classics to contemporary bestsellers. Whether you’re into fiction, non-fiction, or quirky niche genres, there’s a good chance you’ll find something that piques your interest. It’s like a literary lucky dip!

What’s more, Southbank Centre Market is conveniently located near some of London’s most iconic cultural institutions, including the National Theatre and Tate Modern. So, after a dose of culture, why not top it off with a literary adventure at the market?

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