London bookshops: Five independent alternatives to WHSmith and Waterstones
There is nothing like browsing in independent bookshops; they possess loveable quirks you just can’t find in the nationally uniform shops of WHSmith and Waterstones. So if you’re looking for a more original experience, look no further. Here are five recommendations for London-based independent bookshops.
59 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB
On entering this bookshop you are filled with the desire to sink into a plush chair with a cup of tea and one of Persephone’s gorgeous dove-grey paperbacks. This small but beautiful bookshop publishes and sells neglected novels, diaries, poetry and cookery books, mostly by women and mostly from the early 20th century. Persephone is a joy, and the shop’s attractive books with beautiful “fabric” endpaper and matching bookmarks inspire a desire to start a collection.
83 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4QW
The flagship store on Marylebone High Street is situated in a wonderful Edwardian building and, while no longer strictly a travel bookshop, it is the three-story back gallery devoted to travel that makes this shop a true gem. Among beautiful oak balconies, skylights and sumptuous green walls, you can’t help but feel as if you’re stepping back in time. The Marylebone branch is how bookshops should be.
Claire de Rouen
First Floor, 121-125 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EW
This bookshop, established by the eponymous icon Claire de Rouen and now co-owned by model Lily Cole, is easy to miss. Nestled away on the first floor above a sex shop, this is a tiny temple of fashion and photography, boasting 3000 books. One can find an extensive range of titles, including rare, out-of-print, signed and collector editions. You can leisurely browse at Claire de Rouen without feeling forced to hurry up and buy – something all book enthusiasts love.
1 Berwick Street, London W1F 0DR
This place is as much for the comic enthusiast as it is for the newbie. With a huge range of graphic novels on display, including children’s titles, Manga and a wide range from small publishers, there is definitely something for everyone. Browsing is encouraged, and with such a large selection you’re sure to find something you’ve never heard of, as well as all the classics. However, if in doubt or in need of a recommendation, the staff are friendly and eager to fulfil all your comic needs.
The Bookseller Crow on the Hill
50 Westow Street Crystal Palace London SE19 3AF
This small but well-stocked shop attracts a wide fanbase and is close to the heart of its locals, as bookshops should be. Run and owned by Jonathan Main and Justine Crow, this bookshop is full of modern fiction, American lit and crime. It also boasts a large children’s section and has a penchant for beautiful graphic novels and cookbooks. Maine and Crow are unbelievably passionate about literature and have an impressive knowledge. Also, if they don’t have what you’re looking for they will order it in for you.