Edinburgh is a treasure trove when it comes to independent stores for the written word. Bookshops in Edinburgh range from modern stores to old school shopfronts with dusty piles of antique books. Basically, it’s the dream. Writer’s workshops, storytelling events and more are also a regular occurrence on the city’s literary scene. In fact, Edinburgh was the first city to be named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2004.
Here’s a roundup of the best bookstores in Edinburgh to pay a visit to, whether you’re into sci-fi or non-fiction.
Beautiful bookshops to visit in Edinburgh
This brilliant bookshop won Scottish Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2018. It’s the sort of place where you’ll leave with the book you came in for, and an armful of gems that come recommended by the helpful and expert staff. The children’s section here is particularly excellent.
This cosy family-run store is a haven for secondhand and antiquarian books of all genres. The Instagram-famous (people love this place for the floor-to-ceiling shelves just as much as they love the content of the books themselves) is an Aladdin’s Cave. Bookworms will feel instantly at home in this winding little place.
Lighthouse is an “an unapologetically activist, intersectional, feminist, antiracist, LGBTQ+ community space” with a curated selection of books that champions marginalised voices and offers alternative viewpoints. It was named Scotland’s Best Independent Bookshop in 2020.
As well as its fantastic selection of books (including zines and works from local independent presses), Lighthouse hosts regular literary talks and other events for the local community.
Golden Hare Books is located in the suburb of Stockbridge, so it’s actually a little bit outside the city centre, but well worth the effort. It on the title of the UK’s best independent book shop in 2019 – no small feat.
What makes this store so special? It’s a rare combination of an ever-changing selection of perfectly curated books with new releases, expert staff and a welcoming vibe. Plus, if you don’t see the book you’re looking for, they offer a free 48 hour ordering service for almost every title.
First things first: this bookshop is enormous! There’s around 70,000 titles over three floors, with strategically placed ladders so. you can peruse the top shelves. There’s plenty of cosy spaces where you can settle down with a book or two. You’re sure to find something
There are three other Toppings stores, one in St. Andrews, one in Bath and one in Ely.
Typewronger Books is surely one-of-a-kind, specialising in indie books and typewriter repairs. Owner Tom is always on hand to offer welcome suggestions and cups of tea or coffee. You’ll find fiction and non-fiction, and often be surprised at what you’ll stumble in on. – it’s never boring inside this store. There’s often literary events, readings, poetry and open mic nights.
You’ll find this sci-fi and fantasy bookstore on the same road that you’ll find Greyfriars Kirkyard, aka the Harry Potter graveyard. It’s been an Edinburgh fixture for years and is well known beyond Scotland for its superb offerings of fantasy reads that are imported from across the world. New stock comes in regularly, so pop in and you’ll always find something unique on the shelves.