The Best Second-Hand Bookshops in London

Find the treasures hidden in some of Londons best second-hand bookshops
Find the treasures hidden in some of London's best second-hand bookshops | © Steve Hawkins Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Clara Chiarpei

Find your favourite titles, hunt for bargains, get lost through the stacks and discover hidden notes in the margins at the best second-hand bookshops in London.

1. Pages of Hackney

Bookstore

Pages of Hackney 1 Credit Toby Peters of Marmalade Panic
Courtesy of Toby Peters of Marmalade Panic
This cosy space in Lower Clapton Road is much more than a second-hand bookshop. The ground floor offers an eclectic mix of new books – ranging from literary fiction and children’s books to volumes on politics, feminism, psychology and philosophy – while the basement features a carefully curated selection of vintage and second-hand books alongside a selection of classic vinyl from the Record Deck, the UK’s only floating record shop. Want to chat all things books with like-minded bibliophiles? There’s a monthly book group and an exciting programme of author events.

2. New Beacon Books

Bookstore

Founded in 1966 by John La Rose and Sarah White, New Beacon Books became the UK’s first black publisher, specialist bookshop and international book distributor – as well as a key player in many political and social movements. More than 50 years later, it continues to celebrate and share literature with a focus on Africa and the Caribbean, and hosts a variety of talks and readings. The Finsbury Park space is also home to the George Padmore Institute, an archive and research centre housing materials relating to the black community in Britain and Europe.

3. Skoob Books

Bookstore

© Paul Carstairs / Alamy Stock Photo
In a 185sqm (2,000sqft) space – with over 55,000 titles squeezed on shelves, displayed on tables or even rising from the floor in towers – Skoob Books is considered one of the best and broadest second-hand bookshops in London. Located on the underground level of the Brunswick in the Bloomsbury area, this store provides its customers with a large collection of books in philosophy, modern literature, art, politics and many other subjects – all at half price or less. It also sells postcards, book cover posters, Penguin and Puffin mugs, as well as offering discounts for students.

4. Judd Books

Bookstore

© UrbanImages / Alamy Stock Photo
Judd Books, on Marchmont Street near Russell Square, opened in 1992 across two floors. Its shelves are filled with a wide range of both used and bargain academic books that will enrich the knowledge of students and avid readers. With its helpful staff and bohemian atmosphere, cosy Judd Books is the kind of place where you’ll want to hide on a rainy afternoon.

5. Book Mongers

Bookstore, Shop

Bookmongers-Brixton-London-England
© Ameena Rojee / Culture Trip

If you’re in Brixton, head down Coldharbour Lane to the characteristic Book Mongers to discover volumes piled up everywhere. This shop has been building an eclectic selection of books for the past 20 years, while buying and selling second-hand books of all shapes and sizes. The shop is owned and run by an American book expert and watched over by a big, friendly dog.

6. Book and Comic Exchange

Bookstore, Shop, Store

Notting Hill Stock - London
© PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The Book & Comic Exchange in Notting Hill, established in 1967, is an absolute must for book hunters. Tightly but tidily packed, its shelves are stocked with books of literary fiction, poetry and plays, while a middle aisle is filled with vintage comics and magazines. There is also a basement where you can find hundreds of items available for 50p or even less. With friendly and competent staff, excellent music piping throughout the shop and a variety of books to choose from, Book & Comic Exchange is most definitely a place to visit when in Notting Hill.

7. Quinto Bookshop

Bookstore, Shop

Quinto Bookstore, Charing Cross Road, London
© Philip Game / Alamy Stock Photo
Quinto Bookshop covers all interests with thousands of new and old books spanning history and travel (especially in North America), children’s books, literature, London history, archaeology, along with texts on cinema and film scripts. The bookshop is a great escape from busy Charing Cross Road, where it’s located.

8. Henry Pordes Books

Bookstore, Shop

Henry Pordes Books Ltd, Charing cross rd, London, England, UK, GB.
© Dylan Garcia / Alamy Stock Photo
Opened as a family business in 1983, Henry Pordes Books has been one of the main destinations for book lovers ever since. This old-fashioned shop attracts many bibliophiles, from arts and humanities students to antiquarian book collectors. Original and vintage editions are proudly displayed in the windows, while the inside shows off a whole world of books covering modern and contemporary literature, travel, art and drama in each corner.

9. Worlds End Bookshop

Bookstore

Worlds End Bookshop in Chelsea, London.
© veryan dale / Alamy Stock Photo
Worlds End Bookshop is an established leading dealer in antiquarian and second-hand books in Chelsea. With more than 25 years of experience, this small shop has been a prime location for West Enders for many years. Specialising in architecture, modern art, fashion and costume, the staff at Worlds End Bookshop are always willing to help with book suggestions and answer any questions you may have.

Mandi Keighran contributed additional reporting to this article.

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