Independent book shops of Bristol

Bristol has a thriving independent scene and although bookshops have been hit hard over the past few years, the city hosts some fantastic stores and community spaces.

Some of these are more than bookshops- they are collections of political ideas and a home for community meetings, discussion groups and knowledge expansion.

Photo from the Instagram page for @maxminervasbooks

In this post we take you through the best independent bookshops in bristol and the best second hand bookshops in Bristol.

Independent Bookshops of Bristol

Bloom and curl (Center, Colston st)

Bloom and curl is a charming shop that has weathered the decline in traditional bookshops by igniting the store as a community space for education and activity.

It’s a charming, old-world-style bookshop with dark wooden shelves and floor-to-ceiling stock. They run homework clubs, creative writing sessions, bookbinding workshops, book clubs, chess competitions and even a mini pop-up cinema. See their website here.

Photo from the Bloom and Curl instgram page @bloom_and_curll

Max Minerva’s Books (Henleaze)

This store, run by a couple with a zest for books, reading and the role of bookshops and libraries for communities, has become a well-known and loved location.

They have a mission to expand access to literature- together with local libraries they run author presentations, signings and Q and As. They also offer book subscriptions, to expand repertoire with monthly new books and an English chocolate bar for the reading.

A lovely shop with a range of contemporary and classic writing. See their website here.

Story smith (North Street)

Story smith is a charming modern bookshop on North street. They offer a tightly curated selection of fiction, non fiction and children’s books- including art, cookbooks, nature, society and thought and history books.

They have artisan coffee and treats for you to enjoy while browsing. The shops also offers next day orders and world-wide delivery.

Story smiths also run regular events such as author spotlights, poetry nights and run a story smiths book club. See their website here.

Photos from the Story Smith instagram page @storysmithbooks

Bookhaus (Wapping wharf)

This is a large, independent bookshop in wapping wharf that stock a large range of books with a particular focus on modern fiction, environment, history and children’s books. They also have an online shop- See their website here.

It’s a bright, glass-fronted space, close the many cafes and restaurants and shops of wapping wharf- a lovely place to browse.

Their 4 monthly reading groups include classics, ‘weird’ fiction, contemporary fiction and non-fiction. The shops also host events such as book launches, with related food themes.

Hydra Books

Community bookshop, venue and space to meet which is run as a co-op by people with a mission to celebrate independent, non-commercial authors and thinkers.

They have books on a wide range of topics- politics, history, feminism, environmentalism, biographies and a large selection that might be harder to find on the high street.

At the moment they operate from the ground floor of cafe kino in stokes croft- check their website here for more details.

Second-hand bookshops in Bristol

Dreadnought books

This is a fantastic old, second-hand bookshop right off the harbourside, at the bottom of Jacob wells road. They have good prices and the shop is well arranged, bright and airy, making it a great place to browse. See their website here.

They list their books online (for example on abe books)- but there are always more in-store- so worth going in person if you’re close by.

Beware of the leopard books

At St. Nicholas market, in the covered stores, is ‘Beware of the leopard books’- Bristol’s oldest and longest-established bookshop. They have a broad range of fiction on one side and on the other site, everything from transport, history and academic subjects.

The shop also stocks collectables. See a link to the store site on the council page here.

Photo from the Instagram page @dreadnoughtbooks

Books for Amnesty (not strictly independent)

Amnesty books is a shop that’s been serving the Bishopston community for over 25 years. It is a welcoming and friendly space to browse their range of modern fiction, classics, social sciences, art, poetry, foreign language and much more! They also stock children’s books.

They also often get involved in community events. See a link to their site here for more details.

The last bookshop (not strictly independent)

This is a second-hand discount bookstore on Park street. All books are £4 or below, and often on promotion. It’s a medium-sized shop, nice and airy, good for browsing.

The shop is run by friendly staff, and they have a good Instagram page here to get a sense of what’s in stock and some inspiration for your next read.

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