Independent Booksellers Week

Independent Booksellers Week runs from 18-25 June. Get thee to your local shop! You can also follow the IBW on Twitter and Facebook.

In honour of the week, I chose to highlight the independent shops I know about in Oxford, beginning with my absolute favourite: The Albion Beatnik.

The Albion Beatnik is located in Jericho, just down the road from Oxford University Press. If you haven’t been, you’ve got to go to this tea-serving Mad-Hatter’s bookshop full of the best beat fiction and alternative stream-of-consciousness authors. You’ll probably find some more mainstream folios as well and while you’re there, maybe you’ll get caught up listening to some spoken word poetry, or catch an author talk or even a play happening among all those bindings. Hey – the Society of Young Publishers even held an event here! This brilliant blog post from Trisha Andres lays out the shop in clear terms, but this Oxonian Review interview with shop-owner Dennis Harrison is a must read!

Arcadia is located just off Cornmarket Street in the offshoot called St Michael’s Street. The reason Arcadia is so splendid is that it brings together a huge compendium of random, beautiful things in such a small, compact shop. You’ll find knickknacks and greeting cards among tea towels and tea pots, but you’ll also find decades old Penguin Classics wrapped in protective plastic and vintage Vogue magazines. The simple ambience of the place is decidedly English (despite its rather Greek name) and I love wandering in here for a short break to glimpse the beauty of original Penguin paperbacks in their simplified glory.

St Andrew’s Bookshop is located on St. Clement’s Street. The shop provides a wide range of Christian resources are available from all the major Christian publishers including Zondervan, Authentic, SPCK, Hodder & Stoughton, SCM-Canterbury Press, Kevin Mayhew, Scripture Union, CWR, Good Book Company, IVP, Lion, Monarch, Candle, Banner of Truth, Day One, HarperCollins, Evangelical Press and Christian Focus. They also offer a daily devotional email at and whilst you’re there check out “zones” — a new concept where church ministries are represented and resourced online.

Waterfield’s Booksellers are locatedon the High Street. They offer antiquarian and secondhand books. They specialise in the humanities, in particular English Literature, Philosophy, History, Classics, and Theology and produce regular catalogues in the following categories: 17th & 18th Century Books, 19th Century Books, Modern First Editions and Academic Collections.

Books on High is located within the shop Antiques on High. This small shop is full of antiquarian treasures and printed illustrations. There is a specialist music section with scores and sheet music, a good selection of foreign language titles and lots of general stock with new items coming in every week. They offer childrens’ books, modern first editions (some by Oxford authors), travel, reference, poetry, cookery, classics, old magazines and pamphlets plus lots of books at bargain prices too.

The Classics Bookshop (Scriptum) is located on Turl Street and specialises in Latin and Greek Classics and Classical Antiquity in general, including antiquarian books.

Oxford University Press Bookshop is located on the High Street and features (you guessed it!) publications from Oxford University Press.

St Phillip’s Books is located on St. Aldate’s, just across from Christ Church. This small book shop is kind of fun to get lost in and that is easy, despite it’s size! This shop specialises in Theology and Church History, especially Roman Catholic books, Biblical Studies, Patristics, John Henry Newman and the Oxford Movement, J.R.R.Tolkien and Inklings, Classic Liturgy and Spirituality and they have more than 10,000 books in stock!

The Inner Bookshop is located on Magdalen Road (not Magdalen Street). Their tagline is ‘Books for Mind, Body, Spirit and the Unexplained’.

The Book House is located a bit further north in Summertown. They sell cards, calendars and all sorts of books, but are best known for their fabulous children’s section.

Mostly Books is located a bit south in Abingdon and has been Regional finalist for the Independent Bookshop of the Year 2010 and 2011. They also stock various genres but are well known for their children’s section.

So those are the main independent shops around Oxford. There are also Oxfam, Blackwell’s, Waterstone’s and a couple of remainder stores like The Works and The Last Bookshop. If I missed any shops out, post them in the comments. If you want to read about how independents are run, have a look at this great piece from the Bookseller.

Now, get offline, stop searching Amazon and head to a local, friendly and utterly worthwhile shop like the Albion!

3 Responses to “Independent Booksellers Week”
  1. Dan Holloway says:

    The Albion Beatnik is the best shop in the UK. I got to write a piece about the store for For Books’ Sake’s “Battle of the Bookstores” column
    It’s also played host to a whole panoply of events I’ve been lucky enough to run, from Not The Oxford Literary Festival which is now as much part of Oxford’s literary calendar as the Festival itself to esoteric events like Lilith Burning and The New Libertines. Truly the heart of literary Oxford.
    Good to see a post about the independents – there is a vast, hugely exciting, and globally recognised underground and alternative literary scene in Oxford that barely if ever gets a mention in the regular media (I’d be delighted to do a guest post for you some time!).
    I look forward to seeing everyone at the Albion Beatnik (7pm) for another fabulous event this Wednesday, the launch of issue 2 of Dissocia, a fabulous Oxford-based zine.

  2. Bryony says:

    Hello there, I work for Signal Books, a small independent publisher in Oxford. We have a relatively new blog at and were wondering if you could possibly add us to your blogroll and in return we would add you to our links page. Also any mentions on your Facebook group or Twitter account would be really great and we would obviously return the favour!

    I look forward to hearing from you, thank you for your time.

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