This is a walking tour you can try yourself if you’re interested in bookshops. You might need to divide the tour into a couple days if you’re like me and end up walking around for 2-3 hours in one shop.
However, a lot of the shops have certain specialisations so you can miss a few shops if you’re not really interested in that subject and spend longer in other stores.
I recommend going into half the shops and spend about 30 minutes at the most to complete the tour. As you can imagine a lot of the time is spent near Charing Cross Rd but you will need a Zone 1 Tube Pass as you will need to take the underground a few times.
We start the tour at Leicester Square Tube Station on Charing Cross Rd and walk south cross the road and turn left into Cecil Court where you will find the following book shops.
- Marchpane 16 Cecil Court: This is a Children’s Book Store with Children’s and illustrated books from the 18th Century onwards.
- Watkins Books 19-21 Cecil Court: specialises in mysticm, occultism and metaphysics, complementary medicine and healing. Which is a pass for me, but whatever floats your boat.
- David Drummond Pleasures of past times: 11 Cecil Court : Specialises in books about the performing arts but also has a range of illustrated and children’s books.
- Travis & Emery Music Bookshop 17 Cecil Court: Specialises in out-of-print, secondhand and antiquarian music and on books about music. Travis & Emery also publishes their own books on music. This is a dangerous bookshop for me to enter if I want to see anything else.
- Tenderbooks 6 Cecil CourtFor independent press and artists publications, original print editions, late night launches and events.
- Tindley & Everett 4 Cecil Court: Specialises in First Edition literature from the 20th Century. We walk to the end of the street and turn left onto St Martin’s Lane and walk to Long Acre where we turn right on this street we find:
- Stanfords: 12-14 Long Acre:The flagship Covent Garden store is still a must-visit for lovers of travel books and has been since it opened in 1853. The shop stocks the world’s largest selection of maps and travel books under one roof. Famous customers include Captain Scott, Florence Nightingale and Sir Ranulph Fiennes: you’ll be in good company shopping here! Now we walk back whence we came and continue down Great Newport Street where we find our next stop
Orbital Comics and Gallery 8 Great Newport Street: “London’s most colourful comic-book shop, stocking everything any comic enthusiast could desire, from weekly imports to vintage collectables and a huge selection of graphic novels and merchandise.” Also home to the UK’s only comic-art gallery. We now continue down the street and turn right onto Charing Cross Rd and walk until we find the next bookstore
- Any Amount of Books 56 Charing Cross Rd Over 15 thousand books for sale with more on website. Some books as cheap as £1, some costing many thousands of pounds and many in between. Interested in buying large quantities of books and rare items. Still got a fair bit of walking so perhaps might need to pick up your purchases later. Scary Bookshop
- Quinto & Francis Edwards 72 Charing Cross Rd : Quinto Bookshop stocks a wide range of second hand books. Francis Edwards stocks rare and antiquarian books on a range of subjects including travel, military, history, art and literature.
- Henry Pordes Books 58-60 Charing Cross Rd : Specialises in art, literature, history, science and medicine with shelves full of books on performing arts, photography, architecture and cookery.
- Foyles 107 Charing Cross Rd: Browse your way around 6.5km of book shelves, housing 200,000 titles at the world-famous London bookshop, Foyles. This vast bookshop has four floors crammed with every kind of book imaginable. As well as stocking the UK’s largest range of books, this flagship store has a café, auditorium and gallery, and hosts literary and music events.
- Claire de Rouen Books 1st Floor 125 Charing Cross Rd: One of the last vestiges of old Soho, Claire de Rouen Books specialises in photography fashion and art with stock covering photo books, fashion monographs, micropublishing, rare, signed and limited edition books, international magazines, look books and artist publications. Unique prints and limited editions are also for sale. You now walk to Denmark Street and continue until to Bloomsbury where you find
- Bookmarks 1 Bloomsbury St: Specialises in Socialist literature and books You now walk down Bloomsbury St and take a left on Gret Russell Street where you find
- Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers 46 Great Russell Street: 19th century booksellers in an 18th century building opposite the British Museum, specialising in English books published before the 20th century. Walk along Great Russell St and turn right to Museum Street where you find
- The Atantis Bookshop: 49a Museum Street : Europe’s oldest independent Occult bookshop. Aleister Crowley, Austin Spare, Dion Fortune and W B Yeats shopped here. New and secondhand books on all aspects of the esoteric sciences, Tarot cards, crystal balls, and regular events. Keep walking south and turn left on Bloomsbury Way then turn left onto Bury Place where you find
- Enitharmon Books 10 Bury Place: A Gallery, bookshop and publishing house for Enitharmon Press & Editions, an independent poetry and arts press that specialises in fine quality literary editions, artists’ books and limited edition prints. Knowledgeable staff introduce you to an exceptional range of contemporary poetry books.
- London Review Bookshop 14 Bury Place: The bookshop of the London Review of Books offers a wide and intelligent selection of books, from fiction, politics, poetry, history, philosophy and a range of literary events, as well as teas, coffees and lunches in the Cake Shop. The London Review Cake shop is closed on Sundays. We now walk back to Bloomsbury way a left on Southamton Place then to Holborn Tube station change at Oxford Circus station then one stop to Regents Park Tube on the Bakerloo Line. Walk onto Portland Place then right on Devonshire Street then a left on Marylebone High St.
- Daunt Books 83-84 Marylebone High St: Specialist Travel Bookseller in an Edwardian bookshop on Marylebone High Street that is nothing short of glorious, with long oak galleries and soaring windows. Books are arranged by country, rather than alphabetically, so guides, maps, non-fiction and fiction all sit alongside one another, for a unique browsing experience. We walk back to Regent Park Station and then go 2 stops South to Piccadilly Station then walk down Piccadilly to Hatchards.
- Hatchards 187 Piccadilly, :On Piccadilly, in a prestigious spot next to Fortnum & Mason, is the UK’s oldest surviving bookshop. First opening its doors in 1797, Hatchards covers four floors and is home to 100,000 books.
- Maison Assouline: 196A Piccadilly: Bookstore specialising in Fashion. We now walk back to Piccadilly Tube station and get back on the Bakerloo line heading south to Waterloo Station and then walk to Waterloo Bridge and under the bridge you will find the
- Southbank Book Market Waterloo Bridge :Tucked under Waterloo Bridge, you’ll find the Southbank Centre Book Market. Stocked with second-hand books, including classics, contemporary titles, maps and prints, it’s a lovely spot to browse. Open every day until 7pm – whatever the weather. After a long day this is where the day ends browsing second hand books on the Thames.