The Best Second-Hand Bookshops in Chennai

Chennai is home to a vibrant culture of second-hand book stores
Chennai is home to a vibrant culture of second-hand book stores | © Jarmoluk / Pixabay
Arun Venkatraman

Chennai routinely churns out bestselling authors and hosts important literature festivals and book fairs. The city’s passion for reading is taken a step further by its iconic second-hand bookshops and markets.

1. Murugan Old Book Stall


This hole-in-the-wall bookstall in Mylapore’s busy Luz Corner is a treasure trove of old and rare books and has been serving bibliophiles in the region for decades. Known for its vast collection of academic volumes, the bookstall is particularly popular among students. However, it also boasts an enviable collection of classic fiction and non-fiction volumes that are hard to find elsewhere in Chennai.

2. Moore Market Complex


With a rich history dating back nearly 120 years, the Moore Market Complex in Chennai is one of the city’s oldest markets. Once known just for housing conventional goods, the Complex now offers a massive collection of used-book stores, with shops selling everything from classic fiction to academic tomes. Visit the Famous Book Shop and the Annai Book Stall for rare volumes.

3. Berkshire Books


Korattur-based bibliophile Ananth Lakshmanan turned his passion for books into a business. His now popular second-hand bookstore Berkshire Books was inaugurated in 2010 and has been a hit with book lovers all over the city. Unlike his competitors who source their books locally, Lakshmanan imports his copies directly from the UK, buying unsold inventory in bulk from publishers there. A major factor in his success is the competitive pricing at Berkshire Books, including mint condition copies starting from Rs. 50 (£0.55).

4. W&H Bookstore


© Winston A. Henry / W&H Bookstore

W&H Bookstore was born out of avid bibliophile Winston A. Henry’s nearly four-decade-long passion for collecting rare books. Unlike other shops, this one in Anna Nagar deals only in rare out-of-print volumes and is one of the few second-hand bookstores in India that offers thematic collections according to customers’ needs. Winston’s shop also boasts prized collections of original volumes on war and history, particularly relating to Madras.

5. Rare Books


This iconic hole-in-the-wall bookstore is run out of a garage in RA Puram by 82-year-old bibliophile SA Govindaraju. Selling used books continuously since the 1950s across two generations, Rare Books houses several rare volumes and first editions that make it a treasure trove for book lovers. Run completely out of Govindaraju’s personal collection, the shop once housed nearly 12,000 volumes across several genres. However, this avid book lover was forced to sell his collection a few years ago due to financial woes. Govindaraju has since rebuilt his collection piece by piece and is now close to returning it to its former glory.

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