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UK Bookshops: Where Can You Find Rare Books?

By Shuangyue Zhao


While various big bookstores compete to show their personalities, there are also many emerging antique bookshops in the UK allowing you to catch up with cultural trends and immerse yourself in rare books. We have listed a few below, but certainly there are far more stores waiting for you!


Blackwell’s Rare Books: 48–51 Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BQ


Blackwell’s Rare Books is a bookshop in Oxford that buys and sells rare and collectible books in all fields, such as modern first editions, private press and antique books on subjects from literature and philosophy to medicine and topography, including early printing and fine bindings.


The first Blackwell’s bookshop opened in 1879, selling rare and second-hand books, and it has since grown to become the UK’s leading academic bookseller. The shop issues printed and illustrated catalogues of rare books several times a year and exhibits at book fairs in the UK and the USA. On its website, you can browse and order from its stock, learn more about its history and enquire about books you wish to sell.


Peter Harrington Rare Books: 100 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6HS


Photo by: Peter Harrington website

With its headquarters in Chelsea, Peter Harrington also has a flagship store in Mayfair (43 Dover Street, London, W1S 4FF). As a contemporary rare book dealer, its team are dedicated to inspiring new bibliophiles as well as nurturing established collections.


Located in the heart of South Kensington, the Chelsea shop has a variety of stock. Its shelves boast more than 20,000 volumes and 6,000 works on paper, displayed over four floors, and items from the Peter Harrington gallery. Both shops have a large team of experts on hand to answer any questions.


McNaughtan’s Bookshop: 3a & 4a Haddington Place, Edinburgh, EH7 4AE


Established in 1957, McNaughtan’s is the oldest second-hand and antique bookshop in Scotland and the only open shop in central Edinburgh to be a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association, the oldest trade body in the rare book world.


The store buys and sells old and rare books ranging from children’s to philosophy, from topography to religion, and some private press books are also involved. Its gallery hosts Typewronger Books, offer new books and second-hand typewriters and holds events. For example, the McNaughtan’s Non-Fiction Book Club has been held for five seasons.


Stella & Rose’s Books: Monmouth Road, Tintern, Chepstow, NP16 6SE


In the beautiful Wye Valley in Wales, there is Stella & Rose’s Books specialising in rare and collectible books. You can find stock information and place orders on its website and social media.


This shop aims to process orders received before noon on the same business day and takes great care packaging your books to ensure they reach you in the same condition as they leave. Moreover, if you become a regular purchaser, you will get a 20% discount on every sixth online order from their loyalty scheme!


Cheltenham Rare Books: 12 Imperial Square, Cheltenham, GL50 1QB


Photo by: Cheltenham Rare Books website

Cheltenham Rare Books was founded thirty-five years ago by Mark Skipper, dealing in first editions, fine and rare books. Its collections include fiction, poetry books, plays, crime fiction, science fiction and fantasy, illustrated books and private press.


As a member of the PBFA (Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association), the store guarantees the quality of its books and delivery service, and also strives to provide the same dedication to service online. The choice of stock and end-to-end customer service, together with attention to detail, is just as important to get right for online customers as for anyone coming to its physical shop. All books purchased on the website are meticulously packed, and you can find the packing process here.


Henry Pordes Books: 58-60 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0BB


On the famous Charing Cross Road, Henry Pordes has been a renowned name in the book trade for more than fifty years. As a seller of antique and second-hand books and remainders, the shop is known throughout the bookselling world and is a favourite among Londoners and visitors to London alike. The staff are passionate, knowledgeable and carry the whereabouts of much of the varied and extensive stock in their heads. You are welcome to ask them about anything professional if you are interested!


Other Channels – Charity Bookshops, The ABA, Book Fairs


Besides the fantastic independent bookshops above, don’t forget the many charity bookstores all over the UK. You could have an unexpected date with valuable antique versions and collectable vintage books there!


Find out more information on rare books via the ABA (Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association), which is the oldest (since 1906) organisation of its kind in the world and the senior trade body for dealers in antique and rare books, manuscripts and allied materials in the UK and Ireland. Furthermore, the Firsts London Rare Book Fair and Chelsea Rare Book Fair are offering surprises for antiquarian book-lovers.

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