Bristol is a city of culture as well as great shops. With a thriving student population, and many poets and writers in residence, bookshops are often highly sought after and the city does not disappoint. While bigger stores such as Waterstones tend to dominate the market for readers there are many great independent book shops on offer across the city. Here are just a few.
Bloom and Curll
As far as independent bookstores go, this one is a real treat. Paper cuttings direct you to the different sections, flyers for literary events adorn the walls and there’s even free cake on occasion. The staff are avid readers themselves and always happy to help you track things down.
Books for Amnesty
In a great position on the busy Gloucester Road, Books For Amnesty is a deceptively small shop from the outside but crammed to the back wall with books upon entering. Well-stocked with many reasonably priced books, shoppers can also feel good about donating to charity whenever they buy books from here.
Starting off as a travel bookshop, Stanfords (situated near the centre of town) has now expanded into fiction as well, making it a great stop for any avid reader. They still stock a huge range of maps and foreign language books – ideal for anybody studying at the nearby BLC English
One of the best charity shops in Bristol, the Oxfam Bookshop at the top of Park Street is a real gem. Books of all subjects are stocked, as well as cards, gifts and ornaments. Some rare treats often end up on their shelves, including an original Harry Potter book which sold for over £700.
Just along from Bloom & Curll, Booty offers a similar array of books along with gifts, clothes and even posh hats. A store you could spend hours in!
Beware of the Leopard
Named after a sign in the great Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Beware of the Leopard is definitely for serious readers. Split over two stalls in St Nicholas Market, one half holds fiction and the other non-fiction with plenty to browse.
Tacked on to the modern art gallery near the Docks, the Arnolfini bookshop specialises in art, film, music and photography with some great fiction and poetry thrown in. It’s not cheap, but it’s well worth a visit for some good quality browsing.
J and Star Bazaar
This strange little shop in Southville is a mix of bric-a-brac, books and items from yesteryear. The chaotic layout of the shop doesn’t encourage casual browsing, but there’s plenty to see should you persist. In among the stacks of books are ancient guitars, second-hand bicycles and obscure ornaments. You never know what you might find...
Not technically an independent, Blackwells in Bristol has still done well to survive despite having to downsize from a four-storey megastore to a smaller one-floor shop. A good mix of books is to be found here – those completing teacher training courses in the UK
can rely on Blackwells for academic books, while fiction lovers can always find the latest releases.
The Last Bookshop
Finally, The Last Bookshop on Park Street sells anything and everything book-shaped – all for £2. Walk away with a slim volume of poetry or a huge collection of photography - they’ll both cost you the same price. The shop also offers cult DVDs, postcards and prints.
Resource Box Visit Bristol
Tourist information for visitors Arnolfini
Official website for Bristol art gallery Stanfords
Information about the Bristol bookshop