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Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookshops in the UK and Republic of Ireland

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The Word Bedford closed in February 2020

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Brown Books/LUTON/77 High Town Road
Brown Books   Phone before travelling
77 High Town Road  LUTON  LU2 0BW
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e-mail   web  
Open: usually Tuesday - Saturday 11.00 - 5.00 but varies
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Opened on 29 April 2023. Community bookshop run by Luton Literature CIC (LLCIC) and Luton Community Arts Trust (LCAT). Initially second-hand books, new books planned to follow.

Little one-room shop about 5 minutes walk from the station. Bright and pleasant inside with a sofa and a couple of armchairs for customers. Staff friendly. Apart from a handful of new books, stock is mainly second-hand. Lots of crime and thrillers (Colin Dexter, Michael Crichton etc) in paperback, all good clean copies priced at £1 or £2. Some more interesting stuff – Penguin Classics, some academic books, and substantial non-fiction hardbacks at £4 or £5 mostly. Also a good selection of children’s books. I found a few things to buy. Given the lack of bookshops in Luton, it is a valuable resource for the town but too small to be worth a special trip from elsewhere.   Sam Boswell 16.12.23

Eagle Bookshop /BEDFORD/16-20 St Peters Street  
The Eagle Bookshop   Open at advertised times
16-20 St Peters Street    BEDFORD  MK40 2NN
map
tel:  01234 269295  e-mail   web
Open:  Monday to Saturday 10.00 - 5.30, Sunday 11 - 4
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We are a large, inviting and fully accessible rare and second-hand bookshop with over 50,000 books on the shelves. We relocated from Castle Road, Bedford in October 2019 after trading there for 28 happy years. Our prices start at £1 (we have thousands of 'one pounders' in the 'Bargain Zone') while we also have hundreds of rare, collectable and antiquarian volumes in the display cabinets for the serious collector. Most of the books on the main shelves are priced between £5 and £20.

In a quiet part of the town, just outside the centre. A fairly large shop, with several rooms; very well laid out; a good mixture of modern and antiquarian books; friendly and helpful staff. Well worth a visit.  Richard Beaton 
Fairly large stock in this out of town shop. Owner certainly knew his subject. Very good local and regional holdings and some rare topography books.  Chris Harte 13.10.09
Lots of very erudite and arcane looking tomes. Few really readable books but some beautiful volumes on display. What a second hand bookshop should look and feel like but something was missing for me ...  Jon Morgan 20.02.12
Definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Bedford otherwise refer to the comprehensive and interesting website first. During the week you will probably have the shop to yourself. Parking and refreshments nearby.  OWC 10.09.12
Lovely shop, knowledgeable owner, wide selection and fair prices. well worth a visit.  Astrid 06.03.13
Excellent, interesting and characterful stock in four or five rooms, moderately priced. Includes a "bookshop within a bookshop" as it's described: a room with shelves of £1, £2 or £5 etc books, with some nice finds. WWAD. Street parking outside.  Mark V 02.04.15
A very good bookshop if you are a keen specialist in the history of mathematics philosophy and the sciences. For those interests WWAD. Less outstanding, but still good and WAD. Certainly one of Bedford's more compelling features.  The Bookman 16.07.16
Excellent shop, the very epitome of what a secondhand bookshop should be. Strong on engineering and the arts as well as local history. Don't miss the vintage telegraphy equipment upstairs. WWAD if you're anywhere near Bedford.  Steven Kelly 08.04.17
Excellent shop. VG stock and good prices. We always call in when in the area. WWAD.  David 21.04.17
An excellent but pricey shop laid out across 5 rooms. 1 room upstairs has been turned into a sale room with books for £1 or £2. Those books seem unsorted so one needs plenty of time to browse. The history room for me was towards the back upstairs, and although the military holdings were extensive, I struggled to find any naval or aviation books to buy. Despite this weakness in stock I came away with 2 books so not a wasted journey. Pricing for me was on the high side as just about every military hardback I pulled out was £10 so 2 books on intelligence in WW2 I didn't buy as a result. Lastly there's an onsite toilet upstairs if like me you've travelled far.  Laurence Batchelor 25.09.18
A marvellous bookshop. I've been visiting it for years and always come away with wonderful things. Owner friendly and helpful and prices extremely fair. Very much the place to discover new and unfamiliar things, even for the seasoned collector.  Christopher 08.10.18
Excellent shop WWAD and with friendly and knowledgeable staff. Good range of subjects covered and strong on John Bunyan and local interest. Note that they are preparing to move into a larger shop in the town centre so check before travelling. Their website is well worth a look.  Steven 17.06.19
Reopend in magnificent premises at the heart of the town with 5,000 sq ft of ground floor sales space.  TBG 21.10.19
Same excellent stock. Nearly all subjects available, but especially good for non-fiction. Well lit and spacious. Sofas and chairs everywhere. Fair priced, owner gives generous discounts. Parking available nearby. Highly recommended.  Charles Day 28.10.19
A significant improvement on the old premises which were beautiful but very heavy on the antiquarian side. Light airy and easy to move around.

There is a decent, albeit not massive modern fiction section Science and Household sections with artefacts decorating the shelves and tables.

A large space was given over to a 'bargain' section which was itself, well organised and categorised. All at £2.00 and the majority of my purchases came from this area. It is unlike most 'bargain' areas which contain nothing but dross as there were good quality books in excellent condition at really good prices.

This is worth visiting albeit not worth a detour and there is NOTHING else in Bedford, a County Town which would otherwise lure me there.
  Firedrake 12.03.22
This is a really special bookshop with a good range of quality stock. Their antiquarian section of rare books is particularly excellent. Good prices and well organised, with lots of different areas to explore. The staff are incredibly helpful and friendly. The shop is large and airy, and the location is lovely - not too far from the river and with some beautiful old buildings around. We made the trip over from Berkhamsted especially to visit the bookshop and it was well worth the trip.

I left with a huge number of books and already looking forward to returning! Thank you for making the visit such a lovely one.
  TheVintageBookwormUk 15.06.23
WWAD. Need I say more? Well, I will. A quite superb bookshop with prices ranging from £1 to a weeks' wages. The variety was wide and easy to check. The shelves were full and the people running the shop and bindery could not have been nicer or more helpful. There is also an Art Gallery. As I left a lady came in with a trolley for her purchases. Wow!  Chris 19.02.24

Emmaus Village Carlton/CARLTON/School Lane
Emmaus Village Carlton  Open at advertised times
School Lane   CARLTON   MK43 7LQ
map
tel: 01234 720826  web 
Open:  Tuesday - Saturday 9.30 - 4.30, Sunday 10.00 - 4.00.
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Donated books and records.

Rather feels like an old school in an out of the way place in Bedfordshire. Very much a large charity shop with free parking and an onsite cafe. The place was busy on a weekday and I found the books to be spread between 3 rooms. The first fiction and children's, the second where the till and cafe were was named popular authors like Patricia Cornwell etc and the third was non-fiction. Pricing was £2 hardback and £1 softbacks. Quality was low but there was probably about 1000 books but I came away with 0 purchases.  Laurence Batchelor 24.09.18
Great atmosphere in this out of the way place. Books are cheap and there are plenty to browse through, though I've yet to find a rarity. Records are sensibly valued as are cds.

Cafe is ok but a bit chilly in the winter with the doors constantly opening and closing.

Loads of bric-a-brac and furniture, which the residents repair with care. Remember, all purchases go to support the fantastic work of Emmaus.
  Ron Johnson 12.03.22
I often visit the Emmaus near Cambridge and frequently find gems amongst the charity shop-heavy stock. This one took some finding outside Bedford and a satnav is a must.

The books have moved to a room beside the Cafe 'Em's Place.'

The stock here was not bad at all. The modern fiction section produced four good quality hardbacks at £2 each. It was worth the trip. I also picked up a good biography of Jean Moulin.

This place has more and better quality books than all the charity shops in Bedford - including the Oxfam Bookshop.
  Firedrake 12.03.22

Mary_s Bookshop/BEDFORD/6 Springfield Centre
Mary's Bookshop  Open at advertised times
6 Springfield Centre  Kempston   BEDFORD   MK42 7PR
map
tel: 07746512957  web 
Open:  Tuesday 10.00 - 2.00, Thursday & Saturday 11.00 - 2.00.
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Mary's Bookshop sells second hand books, records (compact discs, DVD's and tape). All have been donated and we have a stock which is possibly as large as 20,000 books. Raising funds for the Sue Ryder Care Home, Moggerhanger.

Still exists in a rather bleak and windswept arcade just o/s Bedford - many of other units shut down. Strange opening hours but looks like a large and varied stock thru the window. Free carparking at rear. Maybe WAD - to confirm.  Jon Morgan 20.02.12
There are indeed 20,000 books but mostly pulp fiction pretty much ready for pulping. Hard work to find and hard work to find much to buy but very good value. Slightly weird Samuel Beckett atmosphere that I thoroughly enjoyed.  rickenbacker 06.09.13
Visited Tuesday 8th November. Closed for refurbishment.  June Skelley 15.11.16

Oxfam Bookshop/BEDFORD/16 St. Pauls Square
Oxfam Bookshop   Phone before travelling
16 St. Pauls Square    BEDFORD  MK40 1SL
map
tel:  01234 213768  e-mail   web
Open:  Monday - Saturday 9.15 - 5.15.
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Small outlet at a busy junction in the bustling centre of Bedford. Broad range of titles with the CD and DVD section kept at bay. Average Oxfam prices.  Steven Kelly 08.04.17
Like the previous reviewer nothing much has changed this is a small outlet in the centre of Bedford. Paid parking near the embankment and then it's a pleasant walk past the castle ruins. The shop has very small sections on every category but the quality was low. The rare antiquarian shelves were also over-priced.  Laurence Batchelor 25.09.18
Oh dear.

This may be a small outlet but it is not that much smaller than my local one. That is where the comparison ends. The stock was minuscule. It is probably smaller than the stock in normal run of the mill Oxfam shop. Quality wise, things do not get any better and this is reflected in all of the charity shops on Bedford. Not even worth the vague thought of, having an idea about the remote possibility of considering making a detour.
  Firedrake 12.03.22