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Secondhand and Antiquarian Bookshops in the UK and Republic of Ireland

News:
Paper and Cup is no longer a bookshop
new listing Oxfam Walthamstow
new listing Oxfam Dalston
new listing St Joseph_s Hospice Five Sisters Books Hackney
new shop Custom House Bookshop
new listing Freedom Bookshop

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Burley Fisher Books /HAGGERSTON/400 Kingsland Road
Burley Fisher Books   Open at advertised times
400 Kingsland Road  HAGGERSTON  E8 4AA
map
tel:  020 7249 2263    web  
Open: Monday - Saturday 10.00 - 6.00, Sunday 12.00 - 6.00
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Shop with predominantly new stock, now with several cases of secondhand art, fashion and photography transferred from the recently closed shop at Old Street roundabout.

Visited today and found a rather disappointing second hand section at the back of the shop and in the basement. Hardly organised, some books just lying in boxes and cases on the basement floor. The few books I looked at were rather pricy too, but such is the chaos there might be gems here worth saving. Finding them amongst the chaos would be the problem.   Steve Newman 23.02.22
A pleasant surprise. No chaos whatsoever in evidence, so a good deal of straightening out has clearly occurred since the previous reviewer’s visit. On the ground floor, secondhand novels, plays and poetry are at the rear of the shop, together with a small selection of books on the labour movement and similar themes. Downstairs, the rather dimly lit basement is entirely devoted to secondhand stock, including more fiction. There is a pleasing array of novels, some of which are quite hard to obtain. Also a good stock of poetry, much of it by solidly accomplished writers who were well regarded in the 1960s and ‘70s but whose work has since slipped out of fashion. A few shelves of foreign-language fiction were an unexpected find. The non-fiction stock is limited, with the partial exception of books on art, of which there is a fair selection of reasonable quality. Some of the books are in sparsely filled boxes on the tables downstairs, but these were easy to look through. There are also three locked cabinets containing rather dull-looking tomes of mostly antiquarian vintage; nothing I could see in these motivated me to go back upstairs to ask the staff to unlock them. All in all, this is not a bad shop. The stock is of decent quality. Pricing is generally reasonable, although one slight downside is that quite a few books on the shelves were unpriced, which is always irksome. Perhaps NWAD, certainly not a lengthy one, as the stock is not very extensive, but unquestionably worth a look if in the area. A two-minute walk up Kingsland Road (towards Dalston) brings you to a very large Oxfam store, which has a bigger selection of books than most of their non-specialist shops. Although almost all are typical charity-shop fare, you might just strike lucky.  Booker T 18.01.24

Custom House Bookshop/CUSTOM HOUSE/3 Freemasons Road
Custom House Bookshop  Open at advertised times
3 Freemasons Road  CUSTOM HOUSE  E16 3AR
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tel:  07561 053497  e-mail   web   
Open: Tuesday - Friday 10.00 - 5.00, Saturday 11.00 - 2.00
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Volunteer-run community bookshop, selling new and second-hand books.

This small bookshop opened two years ago in a dilapidated shopping parade, only a minute's walk from Custom House station (Elizabeth Line and DLR). Custom House is an extremely deprived area and the shop raises funds for community activities and outreach work; the premises also serve as a centre for these activities on most mornings. The books are a mixture of second-hand and new, although mostly the latter, and are shelved together regardless. The pricing policy is simple: new books are sold for the cover price and second-hand books for half the cover price. There is a reasonable selection of children's books and a fair amount of popular fiction, much of it mass-market, although classic literature is almost entirely absent. The non-fiction amounts to only about 250 books, with just three subject categories - history, sport and gardening - in evidence in any quantity at present. The work carried out by the small but dedicated team of volunteers here is highly laudable, but objectively the quality and size of the stock do not merit a special trip. However, if attending an event at the ExCel exhibition centre, be aware that the shop is only a stone's throw away at the opposite side of Custom House station.   Booker T 05.06.24

Freedom Bookshop/WHITECHAPEL/Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street
Freedom Bookshop  Open at advertised times
Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street  WHITECHAPEL  E1 7QX
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tel:  07565 160446  e-mail   web   
Open: Monday - Saturday 12.00 - 6.00, Sunday 12.00 - 4.00
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Long-established anarchist bookshop with a surprisingly wide range of stock, including a small second-hand section, about half on politics.

Down an alleyway, a few yards from Aldgate East tube station in the direction of the City, is Britain's largest anarchist bookshop. Look out for the shop's sign (somewhat incongruously, right by KFC) on Whitechapel High Street so as not to miss the unobtrusive turning. Once inside, be prepared to be surprised. A lot of the books are indeed works about anarchism, and the shop's publishing arm, Freedom Press, puts out several titles on such themes (both current and historical) each year. However, the stock encompasses a broader range of categories, including books on feminism, LGBTIA+, race, Marxism and communism, veganism, the environment, history and culture, pacificism and the labour movement, as well as zines, radical fiction, memoirs and biographies. Most of the stock is new, but there are about 500 second-hand books, perhaps half of which have some type of political theme. The remainder are a wide-ranging mixture of what has recently been donated: at present, general fiction features prominently. Prices are generally low. The second-hand fiction is mostly £1, as is much of the non-fiction, although some of the books on politics and history are in the £3-£5 range. There is one shelf of "rare and vintage" books, largely on political subjects, with higher prices. Freedom Press was founded in 1886; the first shop opened in 1940 and it moved to its current premises in 1968. It has had a turbulent history, having suffered the arrest of its leading figures in the 1940s and, more recently, arson attacks by neo-fascists. It is certainly an interesting shop, and would be worth a look for TBG readers interested in any of its main themes. Access for customers with mobility difficulties is straightforward.   Booker T 06.06.24

Jambala Secondhand Bookshop/TOWERHAMLETS/247 Globe RoadBethnal Green
Jambala Secondhand Bookshop   Open at advertised times
247 Globe Road  Bethnal Green    TOWER HAMLETS  E2 0JD
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tel:  0208 981 1225  e-mail   web
Open:  Monday - Friday 12.00 - 6.00, Saturday 10.30 - 5.30
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All types of secondhand books, records and music. We are an ethical Buddhist business dependent on donations. All proceeds go to support the London Buddhist Centre.

Small shop with interesting mixed stock, well laid out and reasonably priced.  Steve Newman 03.03.14
Just a short walk from Bethnal Green LT station and around the corner from the Museum of Childhood. Less for children than for adults all cooing 'I remember that !" but well worth a visit. The bookshop is small but organised well , difficult to navigate if you are above average build but some real modern fiction gems. Not a huge stock and probably NWAD but if in the area and there is not a lot in terms of bookshop activity in East London ... worth supporting!  Jon Morgan 09.05.15
As befits a Buddhist charity bookshop, there is good karma in this small room of interesting and varied stock. Prices are generally modest; photographer Robert Doisneau's 672-page retrospective for a fiver was a steal! Recommended.  Nicholas Sack 13.02.19
Pleased to report that this shop has survived the pandemic unscathed. Edifying stock in pleasant surroundings; I bought Joan Didion and Georges Simenon. Cheerful and knowledgeable staff.  Nicholas Sack 18.10.21
A lovely charming understated little second hand bookshop on the backstreets of Bethnal Green run by the local Buddhist community. A good selection of general stock on most subjects Paperbacks are around £3 but plenty of good value hardbacks too. About three minutes walk from Bethnal Green tube station. Wow! Signed Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall. Unwind in here then nip round the corner to the excellent Camel Pub on Sugar Loaf Walk to celebrate your finds.   SaltaireTom 25.08.23
The favourable comments from all the previous reviewers are amply justified. This is a neatly arranged shop with a good range of stock, given its small size. As might be expected, it has quite a large selection of books on religion/spirituality. The shelves also hold an extensive array of (mostly modern) fiction. Perhaps most impressive at present, though, is the stock relating to the visual arts. A recently deceased local Buddhist bequeathed his collection to the shop and, as a consequence, its holdings of books on fine art, photography, architecture, textiles, ceramics etc are well above what might be expected, in terms of both quantity and quality; some of these are very competitively priced. In other areas too, pricing is generally reasonable, although not bargain-basement cheap; most of the paperback fiction, for example, is priced at £3.50. The volunteers seem a nice bunch and there is a very pleasant feel to this shop. It appears to attract a lot of donations and stock turnover tends to be fairly rapid. Only a short walk from Bethnal Green tube station, it is also within very easy reach of Cambridge Heath station (London Overground). Well worth supporting as it would be a real shame to lose this shop. Cash and credit cards accepted.  Booker T 06.01.24

Oxfam Books and Music/WANSTEAD/1 Clock House ParadeHigh Street
Oxfam Books and Music   Open at advertised times
1 Clock House Parade  High Street    WANSTEAD  E11 2AG
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tel:  0208 530 3413  e-mail   web   
Open: Monday - Saturday 10.00 - 6.00, Sunday 10.00 - 5.00
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Usual Oxfam format, helpful staff and although I did not buy anything books seemed reasonably priced.  Steve Newman 17.08.12
Shop small but too much space given to gifts and cards. Pricing often VERY high - internet influenced valuation seemingly taking no account of condition or edition.  Peter M 28.03.18
This used to be one of the better Oxfam's in London. Sadly that is no longer the case. On entry today I thought I had gone into a Xmas gift shop, not an Oxfam Bookshop! With 50% of shelf space given over to Xmas stock there was not a lot left for books. Come on Oxfam, you can do far better than this.

One of the book series I collect are Observer Books. I have had around 2500 over the last 10 years so do know something about them. Whilst pleased to see around half a dozen for sale, I was shocked at the prices asked. £9.99 & £14.99 for bog standard books with torn DJ's and faded spines. Worth £1 to £2 only in that condition.

I felt that I could not leave without mentioning how ridiculous the prices were, and found a long serving member of staff. I showed her the books asking who was pricing them these days. To be fair she immediately withdrew them from sale, and thanked me for drawing the matter to her attention.

I have in the past found good quality books at reasonable prices here, but it just goes to show with Oxfam, it does all depend on having good management in place. The present incumbent appears to think that selling Xmas stock takes priority, and that says it all really.
  Steve Newman 18.12.21
A small shop which is even smaller since 2020. Despite that a very large percentage of the small space left is taken up by cards, ethnic gifts, hand woven dog biscuits etc. Possibly the worst Oxfam bookshop in London. NWAD  PeterM 18.03.22
I agree with the comments by previous reviewers. What has happened to this shop is a real shame. Until a few years ago, it was one of the better Oxfam bookshops in London, perhaps even one of the best, with a high-quality and extensive stock and reasonable prices. The knowledgeable and helpful shop manager eventually decamped to Somerset to run the Oxfam bookshop in Taunton. And, at about that time, the rot seemed to set in here. Now, the Wanstead shop is a shadow of its former self. The stock is almost entirely mundane, and anything remotely unusual tends to carry an exorbitant price tag. Over the years, I have donated a few dozen high-quality books, but they rarely (if ever) appear on the shelves here. I suspect they are either sent straight to other branches or are offered only on the internet. In one respect, at least, it is easy to see what has gone wrong here: almost half of the selling space is now devoted to shampoo, coffee, herbal teas, greeting cards, woven throws, ceramic dog bowls (seriously!) and a whole load more of this sort of stuff. Formerly one of Oxfam’s better-kept secrets, but now emphatically NWAD.  Booker T 30.08.23

Oxfam/DALSTON/514-518 Kingsland Road
Oxfam  Open at advertised times
514-518 Kingsland Road  DALSTON  E8 4AR
map
tel:  020 7254 5318  e-mail   web   
Open: Monday - Saturday 10.00 - 6.00
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A large general Oxfam shop with quite a substantial book section.

Oxfam's Dalston branch is one of the largest charity shops in London, but until fairly recently has not been much good for books. I lived in Dalston for 13 years and rarely bothered with it as the selection was small and invariably dismal. But things are a bit different now. As with the Oxfam shop at Walthamstow, the changing social composition of the area has resulted in a greatly increased stock of books and also an improvement in quality. The Dalston branch now has about 2,500 for sale (500 of which are children's books), although the stock is inferior to that at Walthamstow. There is a reasonable choice of paperback fiction, however. The two shelves of foreign books feature an unusually diverse range of languages, perhaps not a huge surprise in such a cosmopolitan area. No non-fiction category is especially notable in either quality or extent, but biographies, travel and cookery are among the stronger sections. The children's books contain a higher proportion for older children than is usually the case at Oxfam. Although most of the stock is not exactly stellar, the prices are remarkably low. Hardly any of the books are more than £2. Almost all the paperback fiction is 99p; a few of the Penguin Classics are £1.99. The children's books are nearly all 99p or less. Much of the non-fiction is also priced at 99p; the better stock is £1.99. Ordnance Survey maps (a good selection) are £1.49 each. Just about the only exceptions to these rock-bottom prices are the books in the window. The 80 or so on display there are generally of a higher calibre than those on the shop floor, but - unlike almost everything else - are not notably good value (especially some of the art books). Although NWAD in its own right, the location, to the south of Dalston junction, is a very short walk from Burley Fisher at Haggerston. Anyone visiting that shop should call in here, as if you do find a book to buy at Oxfam Dalston, it will almost certainly be a bargain.   Booker T 08.05.24

Oxfam/WALTHAMSTOW/2-4 High Street
Oxfam  Open at advertised times
2-4 High Street  WALTHAMSTOW  E17 7LD
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tel:  020 8503 6334  e-mail   web  
Open: Monday - Saturday 10.00 - 5.00. Sunday 11.00 - 5.00
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A general Oxfam shop with a fairly sizeable and much-improved book section.

Although the main shopping area (High Street and Hoe Street) is still distinctly downmarket, Walthamstow has changed a lot in recent years, with large numbers of young professionals moving into the Victorian terraced housing in its more desirable areas. Its Oxfam shop reflects this social change, with a vastly increased offering of second-hand books. There are now more than 2,000 for sale here and the quality is fairly good, especially for fiction, with a wide range of classic and modern novels. Also a half-decent selection of biographies, as well as books on travel, history, gardening and art/fashion. Lots of revision guides, dictionaries, reference books etc, and also a few hundred children's books (mainly for younger children). Prices are low, with paperback fiction, including Penguins and Viragos, mostly £1.50 or £2. Children's books are mainly £2. Also a large stock of vintage comics (Superman, Marvel etc), in good condition, at £1 or £2. The "old and interesting" section (three small shelves; nothing very special, but no absolute dross) is placed in the window - inaccessible to customers - but with a price list displayed. This lists the cheapest online prices and Oxfam's prices, which are unusually sensible for these sorts of books. NWAD, but worth a look if nearby. The shop is one minute's walk from St James Street station (London Overground).  Booker T 06.05.24

Pages of Hackney/HACKNEY/70 Lower Clapton Road
Pages of Hackney    Open at advertised times
70 Lower Clapton Road    HACKNEY  E5 0RN
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tel:  020 8525 1452  e-mail   web   
Open:  Monday - Friday 11.00 - 6.00, Saturday 10.00 - 6.00, Sunday 11.00 - 6.00.
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An independent bookshop on the Lower Clapton Road, stocking an eclectic selection of contemporary and classic fiction, children's books, politics, environment, art, cookery and much more. We now have a new and improved secondhand section in our basement. Sign up to our newsletter to hear about new books, literary events https://pagesofhackney.co.uk/newsletter/

A small independent bookshop that has apparently been open for seven years but undiscovered. A mix of new and second hand. The basement contains a fair selection of reasonably priced books including three shelves full of Penguin and Pelican books and quite a few Ladybird series too.  Steve Newman 30.11.15
The attractively furnished basement contains a modest range of secondhand stock, mostly good quality. Early Penguins are five pounds. There is a case of books for a quid, and another of new stock heavily discounted. Sadly, the arts section is very thin, yet this little shop along with Jambala in Bethnal Green is a rare oasis in the literary desert of East London.  Nicholas Sack 27.02.19
Visited yesterday, cant add much to the comments above really. Not a vast stock, just along one wall plus another bookcase or two. Nice cosy basement though, and the stock they had did look in good condition and not expensively priced.  Steve Newman 23.01.22
Now apparently just the wall's worth mentioned above. Mainly newer books (past 40 years-ish), but carefully chosen to be of interest to collectors. Prices sensible.  Adrian 06.11.22
The secondhand stock is, as other reviewers have noted, confined to one (fairly long) downstairs wall, so the quantity is not enormous. But there is next to no dross here. The buyer, Patrick (formerly, I think, of London Fields Books) has a keen eye for quality, and this is very evident in the holdings. There are always a good number of hard-to-get volumes on these shelves. Pricing is about average, perhaps a little on the high side; there are few out-and-out bargains to be had here. What there is, however, is a decent selection of good-quality fiction, volumes of essays, literary biographies etc. Crime fiction is an enduring speciality. The non-literary holdings are less impressive, but the overall quality is still good. The lighting is bit patchy in this nicely furnished basement, certain areas of which are somewhat on the dark side, while others are very brightly lit. The staff are helpful and professional. Always a pleasure to visit.  Booker T 06.01.24

St Joseph_s Hospice Five Sisters Books/HACKNEY/83 Mare Street
St Joseph's Hospice Five Sisters Books   Phone before travelling
83 Mare Street  HACKNEY  E8 4RG
map
tel:  020 8525 3003 (number for all four of the charity's shops)  e-mail
Open: Monday - Saturday 11.00 - 4.00 but sometimes closed at short notice.
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Charity bookshop selling a varied selection of second-hand and new books.

St Joseph's Hospice has four charity shops in Hackney (one of which is three doors away), but this is the only bookshop. Although officially called "Five Sisters Books", this name does not currently appear on the shop front, which carries only the words "St Joseph's Hospice". Its stock is fairly evenly split between second-hand books, donated by the public, and discounted new books, donated by corporate sponsors, publishers etc. Although small, the shop has quite a good range of modern and classic fiction, including new hardback crime novels; paperbacks are priced from £1 to £3. The stock is diverse and reflects the area's cosmopolitan nature: for example, there are sections for "black and POC [people of colour] literature" and LGBTQ+ books. Small sections for poetry, drama, architecture, nature and ecology, psychology, baking, cookery, travel, sport (cycling is strongly featured), art, biography, history, science and politics, as well as children's books and graphic novels. However, each non-fiction category takes up only a shelf or two, so in every case the selection is only a few dozen books. Nevertheless, the quality of the stock is slightly better than typical charity-shop fare, so it is worth a look if you are nearby. The shop is just north of Regent's Canal and quite a long way down Mare Street from the centre of Hackney. Prices are reasonable, although in most cases not bargain-basement cheap. Credit cards are usually accepted, but the card reader is sometimes on the blink or loaned to one of the other outlets, so it is best to take some cash with you. The opening hours are not entirely to be guaranteed, as they depend on volunteer availability, but there is not really an effective way of checking this in advance. The mid-week days are the most reliably covered, apparently.  Booker T 01.06.24