The book industry is one that is continually evolving, with the rise of the digital era and constant market changes. Whilst huge corporations such as Amazon are growing bigger and more powerful, indie publishers are increasingly becoming embedded in the communities of towns and cities. Certainly in Edinburgh, there’s a real sense of locals supporting their indie bookshops, which have some of the most passionate booksellers, and well-stocked and beautifully curated shelves.
Like London, Edinburgh has such a wealth of incredible bookshops to choose from that it is as easy as pi to support your local indie bookstore whilst also picking up your next read (or if you are like me, adding to the ever-growing TBR bedside table pile).
Here are my top recommendations of the best indie bookshops around Edinburgh.
The Golden Hare (68 St Stephen Street, Edinburgh)
I’m starting with this little gem of a bookshop as it’s unquestionably one of my favourites. Located in Stockbridge, The Golden Hare is a cosy retreat from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh city and completely intertwined with the local community, running Reading Salon Nights, its own Book Club, author events and more.
There’s a lovely bunch of hugely enthusiastic, friendly booksellers who know everything there is to know about books. The Golden Hare also has its own blog, podcast and it’s own book subscription service, which looks brilliant (I’ve missed this months box but will definitely sign up for the December one).
Inside the shop, there is a magazine section, a book of the month section and a table with international acclaimed books and classics (I always find something great to read here). There’s also a children’s section at the back of the shop, which has such an inspiring and varied collection of books and they do Sunday stories, read by their Storyteller, Elspeth Chapman, which lasts 45 mins and is completely free.
At Christmas time they also quite often have mince pies that you can enjoy as you browse!
Armchair books (72-74 West Port, Edinburgh)
Their new website (very exciting) describes Armchair books as ‘Very nearly alphabetised chaos’ which does a pretty good job of describing this quirky, small second-hand bookshop located in Edinburgh’s hallowed West Port. In many ways, this bookshop is a book-lovers dream – it is overrun with books, stacked high from the floor to the ceiling. It’s one of those shops where you walk in and are hit with the smell of old books. It’s absolutely glorious.
It really is bursting with books from all walks of life – old, new and everything in between. The books are not always in the best condition (some are very well-loved) but they are reasonably priced and there is such an incredible selection to choose from- you are bound to find a book or two that you like. A real hidden gem in the heart of Edinburgh.
The Edinburgh Bookshop (219 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh)
Another firm favourite of mine is the Edinburgh Bookshop which is nestled in the Bruntsfield community. It is staffed by four knowledgeable book-lovers who are great at helping you decide your next read and in doing so, allow you to tick off another book of your Goodreads Reading Challenge.
They also run a Book Club at the wonderful Strumpets Coffee Shop in the West End of Edinburgh, which I would argue does the best hot chocolate in Edinburgh.
Lighthouse books (43-45 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh)
This radical bookshop, located in West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh is another great indie bookshop. They celebrate diversity of thought and encourage readers to engage with ideas both from the margins and mainstream. They have one of the best collections of LGBT books I’ve seen and hold monthly events in their shop- well worth checking out if you are in Edinburgh Old Town.
They often collaborate with the Golden Hare Books in the summer and run an alternative ‘Book Fringe’ event, which is always great and well worth going to!
Till’s bookshop (1 Hope Park Cresent, Edinburgh)
This is one of the loveliest second-hand bookshops I’ve ever been into. It’s fair to say it’s pretty ‘old-school’ but I think this just adds to the overall charm of this little treasure trove of a bookshop. With a certain holiday around the corner, this is a great place to stock up on your vacation reading.
McNaughtan’s Bookshop and Gallery (3a & 4a Haddington Place, Edinburgh)
Last, but not by no means least is McNaughtan’s Bookshop and Gallery. It’s the oldest second-hand and antiquarian bookshop in Scotland, and is also the only open shop in Edinburgh to be a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association. If you are a book collector or just have a passion for old books, then this is the shop for you!
They also run a Non-Fiction book club so do check this shop out if your keen on this genre of book.
Where’s your favourite bookshop in Edinburgh? Is there anywhere I’ve missed that should make it onto this list? Let me know in the comments below.