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A guide to Oxford’s bookshops

Katerina Lygaki rates Oxford's best bookshops.

The number one rule for being a book-obsessed English student is having the inside scoop on the different bookshops in town. Here’s a short guide on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Oxford book-buying scene. 

Book Stop

Starting off hot, this bookshop has everything going for it: it is found on St Giles’, right next to Tesco, so I do not have to tell you twice how great that is; it sells second-hand books for a pound and all of its new titles are priced at around a fiver; and finally, it is environmentally friendly. This is because the books they sell are the titles that have not been sold by other booksellers, and so have been returned to their publishers. These publishers either recycle the books, or sell them to bookstores like these, where they are sold for half the price of regular paperbacks. I found out about this through a Cherwell article – thank goodness for student journalism – and have not looked back since. 

Vibe: 10/10

Price: 10/10

The Last Bookshop

Honestly, this is the ultimate hidden gem of Oxford. Forget picturesque colleges or artfully maintained parks, this bookshop is definitely the spot where all your main character dreams come true. Situated just off Little Clarendon Street, with its fairy lights and cute cafés, this book shop is owned by the same people as ‘Book Stop’. Here too, you can find second-hand and first-hand discounted books, ranging from a pound to £4.99. I come here whenever I’m in dire need of some shopping therapy without breaking the bank: I have found that not much cannot be fixed by buying a discounted book and then getting an overpriced but cute candle from the nearby store Wild Honey. 

Vibe: 10/10

Price: 10/10

Blackwell’s

Blackwell’s is a must for any Oxford student. They have every title you could ever dream of, and if they don’t have something in store, the staff are extremely knowledgeable in all things books. If you are looking for an Oxford World’s Classics edition of a book, chances are it will be here, since the bookshop acquired most of OUP’s titles after its store on the High Street closed. Another great perk is that they ‘price match’ book titles for students (all you have to do is show your bod card) and they have some great ‘3 for 2’ deals on fiction titles. Oh, also, they have a very vibey café to do some work or read a book in.  

Vibe: 10/10

Price: 8/10

Waterstones 

With all the great independent bookstores in Oxford, going to Waterstones just doesn’t hit the same sweet spot as the others. They carry loads of new releases, and their prices are standard: £8.99 on average for a paperback. What makes this bookstore stand out instead is its top-floor café. Their coffee is average, but the view of St Giles’ and the relaxing atmosphere are exceptional. 

Vibe: 8/10

Price: 6/10

Gulp Fiction

Finally, this independent bookshop is a new addition to the Covered Market, selling second-hand books whilst also serving coffee from The Missing Bean and beer from Oxford’s Tap Social and BMan Brewery. You can even sell your old books to them for a pound. I haven’t had a chance to go to this store myself, so I can’t comment on its prices, but I have looked at it longingly from afar every time I’ve entered the Covered Market, so that has to count for something. Only downfall for this one is that it operates under Covered Market hours, which still remain a mystery to me, even after studying in Oxford for two years now. 

Vibe: 10/10

Price: to be determined 

Imade credit: Peter Trimming/ CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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