The Best Bookshops in Cape Town, South Africa

Keep an eye on their events page to stay in the loop
Keep an eye on their events page to stay in the loop | © The Book Lounge

Freelance Writer - instagram.com/andrewthompsonsa

If you’re looking to satisfy your inner bookworm while in Cape Town, there are several stores that will have you covered. Though most large shopping centres have some form of bookshop franchise, there are a few truly iconic destinations for readers dotted throughout the city.

The Book Lounge

Cape Town‘s Book Lounge is perhaps the cosiest and most iconic bookstore. It’s situated on a corner in the city’s East City district, and the passionate staff are always willing to lend their insights and opinions. The store’s inviting atmosphere and eclectic selection of books will keep you occupied and relaxed for hours on end, and they regularly host popular launches with in-store interviews. If you’re in a rush to pick up a quality read, there’s a wide selection laid out in clearly marked sections, but if you have time to relax, there’s a lounge area and small coffee shop downstairs with a selection of tasty snacks and hot and cold drinks.

Kalk Bay Books

Often described as the bookstore with the most beautiful view in the world, Kalk Bay Books is mere metres away from the sea and offers something sensational for the mind and the eye. The picturesque stone pub-turned-bookstore is home to a number of book clubs and author launches. The books collection itself is carefully selected to promote particularly intriguing genres, such as African fiction and history. Within walking distance of the Kalk Bay train station, this bookstore is easily accessed by public transport and is a must visit for any bibliophile.

Clarke’s Bookshop

With a glorious, two-story assemblage of articles grounded in the history of ‘the dark continent’, Clarke’s is a veritable cornucopia of knowledge on Africa. With a wide variety of topics covered in their beautifully presented compendium of African literature, the friendly staff can guide you to books relating to anything from gender to art. The second story is devoted to second-hand titles; you may even find a rare gem. Or, if you are an avid traveller, take a peek at the admirable collection of maps, some of which date back to the 1600s and all of which are for sale.

Readers’ Den Comic Shop

For the wannabe-heroes in the crowd, this atmospheric comic shop sells every popular comic available, from Adventure Time and Batman to Justice League, Star Wars and more. If that isn’t enough, there are plenty of graphic novels and Manga comics to read. The unique thing about this comic shop is its participation in Free Comic Book Day. On this day, local comic book stores seek to promote comic books as forms of relevant entertainment, art, and literature by giving away specially published comic books for free. In fact, the day has gained such popularity in this location that it has become a mini Comic Con, with cosplayers turning up from all over town to attend.

Select Books

A member of the Southern African Book Dealers Association, the charming Select Books specialises in buying and selling books relating to South African culture and history. Once an institution on Cape Town’s Long Street, they’ve since moved to new premises. But you’ll still find a number of rare gems; maybe an out-of-print book or a signed first edition. With such a selective collection of treasures, the owner is intimately acquainted with every book and is more than willing to help you track down a specific volume.

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