The Best Bookshops in Oxford, UK

View of Keble College from Engineering Science Building, Oxford
View of Keble College from Engineering Science Building, Oxford | © Oxford Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo
Sarah Dawson

With its unbeatable literary history and the best selection of independent bookshops around, Oxford is heaven for book lovers. Of course, you can expect to find the usual big chain bookshops in the city, but it’s the unique, indie stores run by people with a passion for reading that are the true gems here.

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Blackwell’s

No round-up of Oxford bookshops would be complete without Blackwell’s. Arguably one of the most famous bookshops in the UK, Blackwell’s is an Oxford institution and home to over 250,000 books – yes, really! The shop’s Norrington Room even holds the Guinness World Record for the largest single room selling books in the world, and at 10,000 square feet with three miles of shelving it’s not hard to see why. There are now nine branches of Blackwell’s in the city, but the original Broad Street shop is hands down the one to check out.

Oxfam Bookshop

Do you know your Burgess from your Brontë?

This two-storey shop situated in the heart of the city was the very first Oxfam bookshop to open, back in 1987. It’s the place to go for second-hand books on all sorts of topics – expect to find everything from well-thumbed cookery books (perfect for uni students who’ve just moved away from home) to hefty, academic tomes. Although buying second-hand is usually a good way to save some money, don’t be surprised to find the odd pricey literary gem on the shelves. The shop is famous for selling a very rare, donated Graham Greene novel for £15,000 in 2008.

Last Bookshop

Not your typical discount bookshop, Last Bookshop stocks books covering a big range of topics, from art and music to fiction and philosophy, all at amazing prices. It’s hugely popular with students, and with good reason. There’s even a café here for you to sit down with a hot drink while you make a start on your new purchases.

St Philip’s Books

Bookstore

St Philip’s books specialize in rare books in the humanities and are known for their academic and theological texts. Whilst this may seem like a big choice, the shop is great to spend an afternoon looking at the books and if you are interested in buying, you can order online. You can find their catalogue here.

Arcadia

Arcadia offers a vast selection of vintage Penguin paperbacks and other second-hand books with reasonable prices. It is really a gorgeous spot that feels like a step back in time. Definitely worth a visit for choosing a gift or a book for yourself. The staff is very knowledgeable and often praised for their recommendations and friendly service.

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