As a city with some impressive literary connections, it’s no surprise that Bath is home to some excellent independent book shops. From bright and airy spaces to get stuck into a new book over a cup of coffee, to grand listed buildings stocking the rarest of antiquarian books, here’s our pick of the very best.
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights
A self-declared ‘spiritual home’ for book lovers, Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights is the kind of book shop you dream of discovering. Bright, full of life, welcoming and seriously passionate about books, it’s no wonder Mr B’s has been name one of the 10 best bookshops in the world by The Guardian. Settle down in one of the comfy chairs with some of your new buys, or join one of the members of staff for a Reading Spa, where they’ll chat with you about what you like to read over a cup of tea, before picking out some books they think you’ll love.
14-15 John Street, Bath BA1 2JL +44 01225 331155
Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath
Lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves, packed with a huge selection of fiction and non-fiction, Topping & Company is a feast for the eyes. You could easily spend a whole afternoon browsing the 45,000 titles on the shelves – fuelled by the complimentary tea and coffee, of course. The shop has an impressive events calendar, with talks by various big-name authors held pretty much every night of the week. Well worth checking out.
The Paragon, Bath BA1 5LS +44 01225 428111
Good Buy Books
If you’re after a bargain, Good Buy Books is a must-visit for cut-price non-fiction titles. This independent book shop stocks a varied collection of publisher and bookseller overstocks, as well as affordable reprints. Here you’ll find a great choice of books about the city of Bath, as well as a substantial collection of art, gardening and cookery books. But it’s particularly well known for its section on one of Bath’s most well-known and beloved inhabitants, Jane Austen.
6 North Parade, Bath BA1 1LF +44 01225 469625
Stepping into George Bayntun feels a bit like stepping back in time. Much of the inside of the shop has remained unchanged since 1938, with the antique furniture perfectly reflecting the nature of the books on display. With a fascinating collection of first editions and antiquarian books dating back over 500 years all in very good condition, it’s a wonderland for bibliophiles. The shop is also home to the world-renowned Bayntun-Riviere bindery, which dates back to 1829 and is still in operation to this day.
23 Manvers Street, Bath BA1 1JW +44 01225 466000
We've had a shelf shuffle in the shop and now we've got a case full of history, ethnography, biography and psychology. My personal favourite is 'The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain' – I just read that if I eat a roasted egg three Sundays in a row and then wash my eyes with dirty hands I will gain all the mystical knowledge (according to the Highlanders). Something for us all to try on the bank holiday weekend.
Bath Old Books
What do you get when a group of five experienced and passionate book dealers get together? No, not the start of a terrible joke, but Bath Old Books – a treasure trove of second hand and antiquarian books. Don’t be fooled by appearances, this book shop might look small from the outside but inside you’ll find a huge choice of books covering their specialist interests including art, children’s books and Jane Austen. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and always happy to help you track down what you’re looking for.
9c Margaret’s Buildings, Bath BA1 2LP +44 01225 422244