Ten of Edinburgh's Best Bookshops

01 June 2021

Armchair Books D

[Image credit - Armchair Books Facebook]

 

Home to some of the world's biggest literary giants, not to mention the world-renowned Edinburgh International Book Festival and the first city to be named a UNESCO City of Literature, it's easy to see why Edinburgh is one of the UK's top literary cities.

The city's streets are stuffed with a range of unique bookshops and sellers. Whether you love the scent of old books, or the crisp never-been-read feel of a new book; whether your passion lies with adventure or horror, comic or classic, mystery or fantasy, there’s bound to be a book boutique in Edinburgh that's right up your street. 

So if you're sitting comfortably, let's begin, as we explore some of Edinburgh's most captivating bookshops.....

 

McNaughtan’s Bookshop

Mcnaughtans Book Shop

[Image credit - McNaughtan's Bookshop Facebook]

In the hustle and bustle of Leith's Haddington Place you’ll find McNaughtan’s Bookshop. Scotland's oldest secondhand and antiquarian bookshop, McNaughtan's was founded in 1957 and still occupies the same basement shop. They are also the only open shop in Edinburgh to be a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association, the oldest trade body in the antiquarian book world.

As well as selling a huge variety of antique books, ranging from history, travel, literature and illustrated children’s books, they also buy old and rare books.

You can easily loose a few hours in the charming bookshop as you work your way through the shelves of neatly stacked books that fill this shop from floor to ceiling and even around the door frames.

3a & 4a Haddington Place, Edinburgh, EH7 4AE. (Tel: 0131 556 5897)

 

Typewronger Books

 

Within the gallery space of McNaughtan's you'll find the gem that is Typewronger Books. Selling new books and secondhand typewriters, they also offer a typewriter repair service, as well as poetry and open-mic nights. 

With a small but carefully curated collection of a variety of books, if you can't find what you're looking for, as long as it's currently in print, they happily try and track it down for you. Books can be giftwrapped and include an origami animal, bookmark and personalised note. As an added bonus, they also offer free delivery to Edinburgh residents!

4a Haddington Place, Edinburgh, EH7 4AE (Tel: 0131 556 5897)

 

Elvis Shakespeare

Heading up Leith Walk you'll find the eclectic treasure trove that is Elvis Shakespeare.

Open since May 2005, this Edinburgh institution is a marvel of a second-hand book and record shop. With almost 8,000 books online and featuring a whole range of cross-genre literature, rare vinyls and music memorabilia, a browse here will surely be rewarded with a great find.

347 Leith Walk, Edinburgh, EH6 8SD (Tel: 0131 561 1363)

 

Topping and Company Booksellers

While in Haddington Place, hop across the road and you'll find Topping and Company Booksellers. With several branches throughout the UK, this branch opened in 2019 and with 2 floors laden with new titles, it's a bookworm's dream. 

A great way to build up a collection of today's finest writing is to sign up to their monthly Subscription Club. Choose from Signed Fiction, Signed Non-Fiction or Signed Detective Fiction and your bookshelves will soon look very pleasing. 

As part of their year-round Literary Festival, they also have a packed calendar which ranges from readings in the bookshop to evenings with literary stars. Keep an eye on the Events section of their website for details.

2 Blenheim Place, Edinburgh, EH7 5JH (Tel: 0131 546 4202)

 

Lighthouse Bookshop

Home to the independent Scottish book publisher, Word Power Books which opened in 1994, The Lighthouse Bookshop stocks publications that offer alternative viewpoints on gender, the environment and current affairs, revolutionary history and LGBT+ writing, poetry and translated fiction.

Nominated Scotland's Best Independent Bookshop in 2020, they support small presses and new writers and have a vibrant year-round program of events, including regular book groups. They also organise the Book Fringe in August and the Radical Book Fair in November, both of which have become annual features on Edinburgh’s literary calendar. 

43-45 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DB (Tel: 0131 662 9112)

 

Golden Hare Books

Golden Hare Books

[Image credit - Golden Hare Books Facebook]

This charming shop in the community of Stockbridge prides itself in it's hand-picked selection of ever-changing fiction and non-fiction tiles. Covering all genres, from cookery to travel, children's picture books to science fiction, and many more in between, it aims to enthral and delight both young and old readers. 

The Golden Hare also host regular events, including author talks, book signings and reading groups. Why not pop along and see what’s happening?

68 St. Stephen Street, Edinburgh EH3 5AQ (Tel: 0131 225 7755)

 

The Edinburgh Bookshop

The Edinburgh Bookshop

[Image credit - The Edinburgh Bookshop Twitter]

The Edinburgh Bookshop is officially one of the best book shops in Scotland, having won UK Children's Bookshop of the Year 2014 and Scottish Independent Bookshop of the Year 2018

Their knowledgeable and passionate staff will be able to guide you around their expansive collection of fiction and children’s books to help you find your next favourite read. They are particularly well known for their selection of children’s books and their twice-weekly Story Time for Under-5's are particulary popular. 

The shop also has a jam-packed schedule of events, including an online programme of fantastic live author events that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

Find them on Holy Corner, right between Morningside and Bruntsfield.

219 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DH (Tel: 0131 447 1917)

 

Armchair Books

With groaning shelves stacked to the brim and cardboard boxes on the floor stuffed with fascinating literary finds, Armchair Books is an intriguing establishment that is worth a look if you find yourself in the Grassmarket area.

The place is a labyrinth of tall bookcases that stretch right up to the high ceilings, with literally thousands of second-hand books. If you do decide to pop in for a look – beware. There’s a very high possibility you will get lost in here for hours!

72-74 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LE (Tel: 0131 229 5927)

 

Tills Bookshop

Another second-hand golden oldie bookshop, Tills Bookshop opened in 1985 and overlooks the picturesque Meadows in Edinburgh's Southside district. 

A treasure trove of all manner of second-hand literary finds, they stock a large contemporary and classic fiction section, as well as sci fi, history and biography, philosophy and sociology, and the odd antiquarian gem. In the colder months, be quick and grab a seat by their cosy fire - reading bliss. 

1 Hope Park Crescent, Edinburgh EH8 9NA (Tel: 0131 667 0895)

 

Portobello Bookshop

Housed in what was once a fishing tackle shop, and before that a cooperative, Portobello Bookshop opened in 2019 and is now a warm, modern, open space that’s a pleasure to spend time browsing in. 

With an original and diverse selection of books across most genres, they also have an online bookshop.

An independent bookshop based in Edinburgh’s seaside community of Portobello, the shop holds regular events with guest authors and is a host for the annual Portobello Book Festival. 

46 Portobello High Street, Edinburgh, EH15 1DA (Tel: 0131 629 6756)

 

Want to browse a little bit more? Find more rare shopping finds in our hidden gems section.