Camden is known for its rock and roll spirit, its indomitable attitude and a passion for the individual. How appropriate then, that when we consider the wealth of culture that has emerged from this iconic North London area, we take a look at some of the best places to go to fuel ideation and explorative thinking. Independent bookshops thrive in this area and here we list six of the best.
A lot of specialist bookshops might look to one area or discipline. Books Iconica is special within this group because it caters for a specific time, the 19th and 20th centuries to be exact. In doing so, the shop enters at the conception of the novel form and finishes at a time when literature is coming to terms with a digital age. The curation in the shop is therefore not dictated by current trends or bestseller charts, but by matured tastes. Classics are classic for a reason.
Just a short trot from Camden Lock, Mega City Comics is more an institution than a shop. Established in 1981 as a mail-order business, the shop itself opened up in Camden in 1987 and has remained a stalwart of the local trading community. The shop offers one of the most comprehensive ranges of comics and graphic novels in the UK. It received a King of Camden award in 2010 to commemorate its excellent track record in local retailing.
Specialising in discounted books, The Book Warehouse in Camden is one of the longest established bookstores of its type in the capital. Its bright yellow shop front and brazen displays make it hard to miss and the Book Warehouse is a great place to find new books that you might not find elsewhere.
The shop is a bit out of the way, but if book-buying is a passion of yours, you are probably the sort of person who will find this a charming little second-hand shop for browsing. What Walden Books stocks is a vast and endearingly higgledy-piggledy selection of books maintained and curated by its owner, David. It is only one of a few shops of its kind left in London, and at a scarce five minutes walk from Camden Lock, it would be an outrage not to visit.
This independent bookshop is a well-established local trader that has grown over the years and prides itself on being a valued part of the north London literary community. The Owl Bookshop has a broad and regularly updated selection of general titles, as well as a very strong teenage and children’s section. They have a loyalty scheme for regular customers and offer a variety of in-store events, many of which cater for children.
Black Gull Books has been in Camden Lock since the market’s birth. It sits quiet and unassuming at the side of where the many street food stalls are set up for hungry tourists and locals alike. The bookshop stocks new, second-hand and antiquarian books and despite the plastic crates and wooden drawers that populate the shop front with bounteous books, within the shop is an extremely organised and expert arrangement of titles to choose from.