As the first designated UNESCO City of Literature in the world, there is no doubting Edinburgh’s literary status. With a vast array of cultural festivals, long history of storytelling and thriving literary scene, Edinburgh’s popularity among bookworms and wordsmiths is almost unrivalled. It is perhaps no surprise then that in a city brimming with authors, poets ands spoken word performers, there is an abundance of beautiful little bookshops scattered around the city.
Here are just a few of the bookshops worth a visit the next time you find yourself in the Scottish capital with time to browse.
If you want a good old fashioned bookshop with the authentic smell of bound paper, Armchair Books is the place for you. Navigating the rows of this bookshop can be an exciting journey as you travel through the various sections. There are plenty of second hand gems and vintage illustrations to discover amongst the ordered chaos. Situated in Edinburgh’s West Port with the castle in view, Armchair Books is a brilliant little book-lover’s paradise hidden in plain sight.
Edinburgh Books is an eccentric little place where the literature is guarded day and night by Clarence the taxidermy buffalo who watches over the shelves of second-hand books. Take the stairs down into the basement and you will find four more rooms of pre-loved literature ready for you to rummage through.
Edinburgh’s Books formerly known as West Port books can be found in Edinburgh’s Book Quarter, the West Port, which starts at the bottom of the Grassmarket in Old Town.
Summerhall Bookshop is set in Summerhall arts venue – the newest and largest venue of its kind in Edinburgh. The space features an exciting blend of arts, science and budding technology, which offers a very different feel to some of the more traditional book depositories on this list.
Summerhall is the base for a number of exciting community projects, from educational and research programmes to art exhibitions and theatre, and it also plays host to a number of cultural festivals when they come to town each year. With so much going on elsewhere in the building, the bookshop and library here represent a sanctuary and place of calm for exploring the shelves and discovering some fantastic works. In particular, Summerhall bookshop features a range of thought provoking books relating to arts, culture and cinema.
With school stories, spooky tales, historical novels and illustrated books all gracing its shelves, The Old Children’s Bookshelf offers something for anyone with a hint of imagination. With a vast collection of picture books this is the perfect place to share a fun-filled couple of hours immersed in words and images. Within these cosy rooms adults are encouraged to let their inner child run just as free as the kids – whether it’s getting lost in fantastical tales or farmyard antics. Located on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, you won’t have to trek off the tourist trail to find this gem of a shop.
Saunter along the glossy striped flooring of Looking Glass Books – bookshop and cafe – and you will find collections that become curiouser and curiouser…
This Alice in Wonderland inspired bookshop and cafe is a lovely little place to stop by for a coffee and slice of cake; perhaps even the spot for a little tea party. With fiction, non-fiction and children’s books all under one roof, there is something for the whole family to be discovered here. Looking Glass Books also holds storytelling sessions, book clubs and literary events from time to time.
This excellent little shop also happens to be located in Quartermile so you won’t have to head down any rabbit holes to reach it.