All the local libraries in Britain have a few shelves where they sell books that are no longer required. All types of books are available and i do not know the reason why such good books are no longer required. I picked up a guide book for South America for 20 pence which is about the average price for unwanted books.
You could easily walk back and forth across Waterloo Bridge a hundred times and not even realise that a few feet below you there was a thriving book market, as shown in the attached images. It really is rather clever in that, even in inclement weather, the stock doesn't get wet.
You can spend however long you like browsing paper and hardbacks, old books, new books, fact and fiction, just about everything you like really and the prices are very competitive compared to going to a bookshop. As you would expect in a market environment the quality of the books varies greatly but if you root about you can find a bargain.
What to buy: Books, books and more books.
What to pay: Much less than for new books in a mainstream shop.
I stayed by this wonderful bookstore while visiting London. I love a good bookstore and once I entered Dillon's I found it hard to leave. It quickly became my favourite bookstore in the world. There are books here on virtually every imaginable subject but it is particularly strong on social arts, literature and children's books. I actually saw some books by Canadian authors that I rarely see for sale on the eastside of the Atlantic.
The bookstore is located in a fine old 19th century building which I took this very poor photograph of.
I have been advised that since I have visited this bookstore that it has been taken over by Waterstones's Books. I understand that this particular franchise is still open by that name.
During my more recent trip to London I visited this store once again and it is indeed a Waterstones's Books. It is fantastic and I could browse for hours here (but this is London and one has a lot to see). There is also a used book section which with a look see.
What to buy: Books of course. A great history section which usually draws me in.
What to pay: Books here can be expensive depending upon it being hardcover or softcover.
Borders is probably the biggest bookstore chain in Greater london. It's N-American based.
2010 Update: It's seems that Borders CLOSED!
Often their shops are combined with a small Starbucks coffee.
The biggest stores are at:
203 Oxford Street
120 Charing Cross Road
What to buy: Books (and an occasional CD) and magazines.
Biblion is no ordinary bookshop, but a hub for all antiquarian book lovers, located within a treasure trove, Grays Antique Market. It’s tucked behind Bond street, and is a fantastic place to while away a few hours. The shop is full of character and has a warm and cosy atmosphere. One can spend all day admiring the varied and impressive collection of rare books. The staff are exceptionally knowledgable and helpful. The shop is made up of a consortium of book dealers, so the titles are constantly replenished.
What to buy: This antiquarian book shop stocks everything from Modern firsts, Children's books,illustrated books, country sports, Victorian Literature, Twentieth Century Literature, Science, Medicine, Travel, Fine and Decorative arts and so much more.
What to pay: Prices vary from £25 up to the thousands!
Borders bookstore on Oxford Street is a centrally located haven for all bibliophiles. The selection is excellent in English literature, and there is a small number of books in other languages, too.
They sell also CDs, maps and other stuff usually associated with a bookstore. There is a Starbucks café to rest your feet while browsing through the shelves.
Unlike most of the other stores in London, bookstores are open till late -- it is always fun to visit the photography section in late hours to see several men flipping through the more adult oriented photoshoot books.
Books are surprisingly expensive in the United Kingdom -- but usually there are possibilities to bundle several books together and get them cheaper. This deal excludes bestsellers and all books outside the mainstream, but gives just enough options to buy a few books for the aeroplane.
Established 1880, they claim to be the world's largest seller of globes, maps and travel guides.
They regularly sponsor travel nights and other activities for travel-minded people.
The main entrance is on Long Acre, also a back entrance on Floral St.
Stanford's is, according to its own advertising, the world's biggest bookshop specialized on travel books. This means: travel guides, travel literature, maps, atlases, special interest books, children's travel games, photography volumes, personalised maps, aerial photographs, travel videos, flags, etc. Even an outdoor clothing shop is found in the basement! You can get literally everything here: From a backpacker's guide to Bhutan to the diary of a woman living alone in Nunavut for a year, from a guide to London's most secret secrets to a map of Pangkalanbrandan - somebody here will be able to find it for you.
We actually wanted to catch a glimpse of the shop's treasures, but came out only 45 minutes later. I could have spent a fortune there - and probably will next time.
Moreover, the shop is the only place I know which has a detailed complete (!) map of London. It is glued to the basement floor and measures roughly 5x5m. For me as a geography buff, it was a great feeling to actually walk on a map this large (and try to find out where exactly we just stood).
What to buy: everything related with travelling - books, maps, guides, clothes...
What to pay: usual book prizes
If you love reading you will love walking down at Charing Cross Road. So many bookstores there, small and big, we usually get lost there for hours every time we visit London. First of all there are some big ones like Blackwell’s (100 Charing Cross Rd), Foyles (pic 3, address:113 Charing Cross Rd, it used to be the largest bookstore in London but we didn’t spend much time there), Borders (122 Charing Cross Rd), I knew Borders(pics 1-2) from my NY trip last year but it seems it is big here as well with well organized shelves and nice range of books. I noticed another branch of it at 203 Oxford Street so I bought most of my books there last time we passed by.
Back to Charring Cross Road don’t miss also some small bookstores that are specialized on specific subjects like music, psychology, magic, sports or whatever…
Of course all the VTers will love Stanford bookstore (pic 4) which opened its doors more than 100 years ago (1901)! It’s a bookstore dedicated to travel books, guides and maps for all over the world, I noticed guide books for every part of England of course but also all the famous destinations in the world. I liked the world map on the floor too :) (pic 5) You can find it at Long Acre, near Covent Garden tube station.
If you like to get lost in library, this is your place. Many levels of every type of books and about every subjects. In the upper store there is the music section with a huge selection of jazz and blues music and a proper cafeteria, where you are not allowed to bring books, unless bought of course. The same direction is written on the front door of the toilets, NO COMMENT. Unfortuntaly Italian music culture is not so strong as the English, so when we enter such type of shops, I always get shocked by the great variety they offer.
The Vintage Magazine Shop sells:
-Vintage Magazines: From classic magazines like Vogue and Playboy to a big stock of back issues of monthly's.
-Vintage Advertising Posters: Original designs include Railway and Travel Posters, Theatre, Circus and Magic Posters, Boxing and Sports Posters, Motor Racing, Political and Anti-War Posters. Original adverts for Drinks, Lingerie, Art Deco Fashion, Cars and Motorcycles, Cigarettes, Perfume, Cosmetics, Chocolates and Vintage Shoes.
-Movie posters, film photos, movie t-shirts, movie star autographs, celebrity photos, key-rings, film clapperboards, original movie memorabilia, cult mousepads, fridge magnets, Psycho movie stuff from the Bates Motel.
-Music T-shirts and posters.
Oxfam second hand shops are located at a numer of locations throughout London.
I found them pretty well maintained and with a modern interior.
The prices of merchandise is a bit higher than average, but the money is well spend.
-61 St. Johns Wood High St, London, NW8 7NL
-23 Drury Ln, London, Camden, WC2B
-12 Bloomsbury St, London, WC1B 3QA
-52 Goodge St, London, W1T 4LZ
-34 Strutton Ground, London, Westminster, SW1P
-202b Kensington High St, London, W8 7RG
-15 Warwick Way, London, SW1V 1QT
-240 Edgware Rd, London, W2 1DW
-29 Islington High St, London, N1 9LH
-432 Kings Rd, London, SW10 0LR
-170 Portobello Rd, London, W11 2EB
-144 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3QG
What to buy: Second hand stuff (but it looks like new).
Needless to say I went for the second hand records.
For almost 20 years I have been on the mailing list of this great bookshop. And when I am in London, I always stop by and usually leave with my a large bag full of books. They specialize in crime and mystery books, but also sell general fiction, as long as there is some reference to a mystery in it.Some years ago they opened a Romance section.Twice a year they publish a catalogue, containing the newest books by UK and US publishers.
The store is in Charing Cross Road, on two stories, and is not too big.They used to be in a larger store on the other side of the street, I don't know why they moved, their store now is very easily too crowded.
Apart from new books they also have a large used book department, where you can look for out-of-print editions.
In all these years I've always found them friendly and helpful, the deliveries work well, though shortly after the latest edition of their excellent catalogue it takes a bit onger. Understandably though, since then lots of people place their orders.
A very sad update: The bookstore became a victim of the credit crunch and the bad exchange rate of the £ against the US$. After many years it had to close. The mail order service ist still in existence, but of course that's not the same as browsing in a bookstore.
This shop is my idea of heaven. The décor is fantastic with the flooring maps of London and the walls set into different countries and continents. If you cannot find what you are, looking for here it does not exist.
What to buy: Travel books, maps, globes, stationary, events, atlases, travel writers books, games and jigsaw’s
What to pay: Recommended prices
I’m assuming that if you’re here on Virtual Tourist that you love travelling, and probably like me also like reading travel books, whether guide books, accounts of adventurous journeys or humorous writers such as Bill Bryson. If so, let me introduce you to one of my favourite London shops: Stanfords. Here are three floors dedicated to books on that single subject, plus maps, notebooks and travel accessories – but mainly books! In fact, it claims to be the world’s largest map and travel bookshop, and I can believe that.
What to buy: The range covers of course all the popular holiday destinations but also more obscure ones, and in a greater depth than I’ve seen anywhere else. For instance, most bookshops will sell a good selection of guide-books to the USA and to the most visited states and cities (a shelf-full on Florida, nearly as many on California or New York), but try looking for most of the other states and you’ll draw a blank – but not here. Maps too – we always come here when we need good road maps for our US adventures, and I saw in a recent advert that they’re now stocking hiking maps for countries such as Tajikistan.
When it comes to travel literature, again the range is very comprehensive, and they often have signed copies in stock which I think make great gifts for travel-mad friends. These will have been signed at one of the regular evening author talks hosted at the store, which are very reasonably priced and well worth checking out - see the website for details of forthcoming events.
What to pay: This isn’t a discount store, so you’ll usually pay the cover price for your book unless there’s a sale on. Yes, you could get it cheaper on Amazon, but you won’t have half as much fun browsing there!