Spotlight on Bookshops in Edinburgh, UK
By Christiana Jasutan and Nazifa Khan
As autumn approaches, it seems only fitting to highlight Edinburgh as one of the UK's top cities for embracing the season. A thriving Scottish city celebrated for its vibrant book scene and rich literary history; it is without a doubt a bookworm's dream come true.
From its iconic festivals to its renowned authors, the city breathes literature. With its stunning architecture and landscapes, Edinburgh has provided a backdrop for countless literary works, capturing the imagination of readers worldwide. Whether you’re strolling through its historic streets or visiting literary landmarks, the city’s bookish spirit is unmistakable and sure to inspire you.
Edinburgh’s bookshops offer a wide selection of titles and create a cosy and inviting atmosphere for book lovers. Here are some to look out for!
72–74 West Port, Edinburgh, EH1 2LE
Situated in the historic streets of Edinburgh, Armchair Books is a second-hand bookstore paradise spreading across two buildings. If you enter through 72 West Port, you’ll find their immense collection of second-hand fiction, poetry, history and so much more. However, if you enter through 74 West Port, you’ll be greeted by an extensive collection of antique books and non-fiction titles. The store has an endless supply of books to explore, and the staff are guaranteed to help you find something that takes your fancy.
There is little doubt why this store is so popular; with aisles upon aisles of books, the smell of old paper and ink, and the beautifully patterned rugs covering the floorboards, it’s a booklover’s heaven. This bookstore has also attracted much attention on social media, particularly Instagram, with tourists and photographers forever snapping photos. It has since become one of Edinburgh's “unofficial” Harry Potter attractions because it reminds visitors of the Hogwarts Library. However, the store has spoken out about how exposure on social media can only take them so far, so make sure to buy a book when you visit because it is the best way to support them.
145–147 West Port, Edinburgh, EH3 9DP
Nestled in the heart of Edinburgh lies the largest award-winning second-hand bookstore in the city, Edinburgh Books. This cosy landmark for booklovers provides a huge selection of books. Whether you are searching for a classic novel, a rare second-hand find or a simple contemporary bestseller, they have it all! Don't be fooled by how ordinary the shop may appear from the outside because once you step through that door, you are met with hundreds of pre-loved books from every genre imaginable. There is even a basement full of more books to browse.
Located in West Port along the same street as Armchair Books, it’s the perfect place to get lost in the world of literature, discover hidden gems and perhaps take yet another pre-loved book under your wing.
Topping & Company Booksellers
2 Blenheim Place, Edinburgh, EH7 5JH
If you have read our previous issue on the best bookshops to visit in Bath, you will be delighted to hear that the beautiful Topping & Company Booksellers also has a branch in Edinburgh. A pretty bookshop with its wooden interior and wooden staircase, this Edinburgh branch is guaranteed to help you lose yourself in a pile of books.
The store is massive, and with so many rooms dedicated to different genres, we are sure there is something for everyone inside. Don’t forget that the shop also sells hardback special editions for the collectors out there, and some of the hardbacks are even wrapped in the classic Topping & Company transparent book sleeve. The shop also runs author events all year round, from book launches to book talks and discussions and many more.
43–45 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DB
If you’re looking for something different, why not visit this independent queer-owned and women-led radical bookshop? From politics, children’s books and history to fiction, travel, cookery and crafts, you might well find your next favourite book here. The booksellers are particularly passionate about left-wing Scottish politics, intersectional feminism, environmentalism, LGBTQIA+ writing and translated work.
Ginger and Pickles Bookshop
51 St Stephen Street, Edinburgh, EH3 5AH
On St Stephen Street in the neighbourhood of Stockbridge, you will find a charming, cosy and independent bookshop dedicated to children’s books: Ginger and Pickles! The books have been carefully curated for children of all ages, from baby to young adult. Sharing a passion for children’s literature, the booksellers recognise the importance of the cherished bonding time between parent and child that can be facilitated by reading, as well as the value of beautiful books and how they can spark a child’s interest in reading and stimulate their development. There is even a little section for parents and an array of stationery supplies!
The staff are incredibly friendly and happy to offer advice on any books. Definitely keep an eye on their website because they are planning to host an array of exciting events in the future, from author and illustrator visits to book clubs and competitions. To find out more, please check out their website here.