Book shops are a bit like pubs: they're nice, they're all closing down and people are sad about it. The number of independent book shops in the UK has fallen by more than a third in the past decade as competition for Amazon and e-readers has ramped up. From the sound of things, the only thing keeping the physical book industry afloat is 50 Shades of Grey.
But don't despair! Oxford has an enormous population of bookwormy students and strong literary credentials, so the industry is more resilient here. Much-loved children's book palace Barefoot Books has closed but otherwise the bookshops seem to be holding their own. Have a look below for our list of suggestions in the city and a few further afield.
For online book shopping at a budget, try Abebooks.co.uk.
To return to our Shopping Guide index, click here.
Where to Buy
Albion Beatnik, 34 Walton Street. Map
Tel: 01865 511345
Impressive range of US pulp, beat poetry and jazz and blues literature - plus cds, jazz performances and the odd live reading. Click through to their Facebook page for more info.
Blackwell's, 48-50 Broad Street. Map
Tel: 01865 792792
The original, and the best. 200,000 titles stocked in every general and academic subject. Second-hand sections. Separate shops for music (sheet music, compact discs and cassettes) and children's books. Map and Travel shop downstairs: maps, guides and travel literature. With more than three miles of shelving, their Norrington Room holds the Guinness World Record for the largest for the largest single room selling books anywhere in the world. Also sells CDs, musical scores, some instruments, sheet music etc. Other branches at Oxford Brookes, Gipsy Lane, Headington, and Blackwell's Medical Bookshop at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington.
Blackwell's Secondhand / Rare Books, 48-51 Broad Street. Map
Second hand: 01865 333633 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rare: 01865 333555 email@example.com
Mon-Sat, 9.00am-6.00pm, Tue 9.30am-6.00pm, Sun 11.00am-5.00pm. English literature, history, archaeology, politics, economics, law, science, technology, medicine, travel, Greek & Roman literature, European literature, oriental, theology, philosophy, antiquarian literature, modern first editions, private presses, illustrated books, juvenilia, bibliography, sets, Oxford books. Book tokens accepted. Catalogues issued regularly. M: ABA, PBFA.
The Book House, Prama House, 267 Banbury Road, Summertown. Map
Tel: 01865 510887 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mon-Sat 9.00am-5.30pm. 1000s of titles, from "the cream of newly published books" to "a strong backlist of paperbacks". Also children's books. Serving Summertown since the mid 1980s.
Books on High, at Antiques on High, 85 High Street. Map
Tel: 01865 251075 email@example.com
Mon-Sat 10.00am-5.00pm, Sun 11.00am-5.00pm. Art, juvenilia, travel, literature, history, modern firsts, illustrated books. For rare, antiquarian and secondhand music, come in on Thursdays (10.00am-5.00pm) to see Austin Sherlaw-Johnson (Tel: 01993 898223).
The Classics Bookshop, 4 Church Street, Cleobury Mortimer, Kidderminster DY14 8BS. Map.
Tel: 01299 271559 / 07816 238141 firstname.lastname@example.org
Formerly of Oxford, then of Burford, and now of a midlands market town that's closer to Wales than Oxford. Still worth a mention for their mail-order service. Extensive collection of Latin & Greek language and literature, archaeology, ancient history. Ancient near east. Books on Oxford. Large section of prints and maps of Oxford. Mounting and framing service. Catalogues issued. M: PBFA.
The Last Bookshop, 7 New Inn Hall Street. Map
Mon-Fri, 9am-6.30pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm.
Very good quality remainder and second-hand academic/literary/specialist books, all priced at £3, or two for £5. Books range from art and history to fiction and children's books.
The Last Bookshop and Café, Jericho, 25 Walton Street. Map
Tel: 01865 554488
Mon-Sat 9.00am-7.00pm (6.00pm in winter), Sun 10.00am-6.30pm.
As above but with added coffee shop. Fresh coffee and cakes served daily. Used books bought for cash.
Oxbow Books, 10 Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford OX1 2EW. Map
Tel: 01865 241249 email@example.com
Mainly mail order, but showroom open Mon-Fri 9.00am-5.00pm. Archaeology, ancient & medieval history, literature, art, architecture.
Oxfam Bookshops, 56 St Giles (map) & Turl St (map)
St Giles: 01865 310145 firstname.lastname@example.org
Turl St: 01865 248310 email@example.com
Good selection of topics - some delightful bargains can be found with a little searching. All stock is donated and updated daily.
St Giles: Mon-Wed, Fri & Sat: 9.30am-5.30pm, Thu 9.30am-7.30pm, Sun 11.00am-4.30pm.
Turl St: Mon-Sat 10.00am-5.30pm, Sun 12.00pm-4.00pm.
St Philip's Books, 82 St. Aldates OX1 1RA. Map
Tel: 01865 202182 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mon-Sat 10.00am-5.00pm. Medium selection of secondhand, some antiquarian, some new. Specialities: Theology, history, literature, philosophy, C.S.Lewis & Inklings, J.H.Newman & Oxford Movement, Roman Catholic literature, Eastern christianity. Catalogues issued regularly. M: BA.
Sanders of Oxford Ltd, Salutation House, 104 High Street OX1 4BW. Map
Tel: 01865 242590 email@example.com
Mon-Sat 10.00am-6.00pm, Sun 11.00am-5.00pm. Very large selection of prints and maps, small section of plate books and local interest. Specialities: prints (Oxford, UK & foreign topographical, sporting & military, nat. history, Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblocks). Conservation of works of art on paper & framing. M: PBFA.
Thornton's Bookshop, the Old Barn, Walnut Court, Faringdon, SN7 7JH. Map
Tel: 01367 240056 firstname.lastname@example.org
Established 1835 in Oxford, now a mail-order service running out of Faringdon, a small Cotswolds village to the west of Oxford. New and second-hand books, including some very rare.