showcasing the best of the south west

Top 10 Independent Book Shops in the South West

Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath, Somerset

For true bibliophilic escapism nowhere better than Mr B's, quite possibly our favourite bookshop anywhere. Set up by ex-lawyers Nic and Juliette Bottomley, this bijoux shop has thought of everything. Most significantly, a fantastic, but never predictable selection of books that will keep you browsing for hours and widely-read staff (take note Waterstones) who are always happy to advise without in any way hassling. Housed in a pretty Georgian building Mr Bs  has many quirky touches - a clawfoot bath filled with books, loos papered in book reviews, rentable reading booth that comes with leather armchair, coffee and biscuit barrel. Regular book readings and author talks with wine and canapes and a brilliant collection of books for children that will inspire the most reluctant reader.  For a perfect present check out their Reading Spa’s where you get one on one time with a well read member of staff who suggests books for you to check out in their comfy “Bibliotherapy Room” with a cake and coffee. We love

Topping and Company, Somerset


Bath again, but how could we not mention Toppings? Vast collections of books,  everything from politics to military history and poetry, all beautifully displayed in hand-built wooden shelves; this is book porn for the bibliofile. Topping & Co host the Bath Book Festival here each Autumn with a huge variety of big name authors as well as regular readings and signings. There are plenty of tables and chairs so you can sit and pore over your finds and of course staff are well versed in all the latest publications. There is a specialist art room upstairs with a huge selection of books and, even better, it's open every day. Perfect for a browsing Sunday.

Falmouth Bookseller, Cornwall 


Behind the pretty Art Deco shopfront you'll find well read staff, a huge range of handpicked fiction and a fantastic selection of art books to cater for art students at Falmouth College. Frequent book signings, readings and author discussions here and a monthly book club at Dolly's Tearoom and Wine Bar above the book shop. There's a vast children's selection and local interest books on Cornwall, everything from Rick Stein to nautical history, also take precedence. A beautifully presented bookshop with sofas and armchairs to curl up in, you won't want to leave.


Foyles, Bristol,

If you’ve ever spent an afternoon rootling through the Charing Cross flagship of the famous Foyles book shop – you’ll be excited to know that there is now an outpost in Bristol. Runs on the same principles, with knowledgeable, well read staff, they have a huge range of books from bestsellers to the more elusive. Its modern, bright design also makes it a great place to hang out and read. Lots of author events at the store worth going to, including events in May around the Bristol Festival of Ideas. And if you have a child who hasn’t yet discovered the secret of books, they also run a great Children’s Story Time every Sunday morning.

6 Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, Bristol, 0117 376 3935 cabotcircus@foyles.co.uk

Brendon Books and Maps, Taunton, Somerset

Come here to dream of escape for this unique book shop specializing in travel and maps this is a beacon of peace and calm in civilized Bath Place. With an eclectic mix of both new and second hand vintage and antique books this has huge support from the Somerset locals. There’s also a café  (with tables inside and outside) that's perfect for a spot of reading. Brendon Books was responsible for organizing the first Taunton Literary Festival last year. It holds regular book signings and is known for getting hold of out of print publications as well as recommending books. Reminds of the travel bookshop in Richard Curtis's Notting Hill but in a good way.

Old Brewery Buildings, Bath Place, Taunton, Somerset, 01823 337742

Hunting Raven Books, Frome, Somerset

Love and adore this shop, it's a gem.With over 15,000 books in stock, Hunting Raven has upped the ante by having a great free overnight ordering service available toting up another half a million other titles. Thought highly of by its local customers and based in the great town of Frome, it recently expanded its children’s section. Staff our brilliantly knowledgeable and will direct your bookworm offspring to some really interesting unexpected choices. A model for independents. Great author talks and signings too. 

10 Cheap Street, From, Somerset, 01373 473111


 White Horse Book Shop Wiltshire

Jam-packed with great books. Going for over 60 years in Marlborough, the White Horse has a particularly good children’s department and history and biography section and sells both local material (from Dovecote Press in Dorset) and mainstream material. They are also the booksellers for the Marlborough Literature Festival (which takes place in September). For would be book illustators the top floor of the shop also sells professional art material  and craft supplies. In 2011 they were the Random House vintage Bookseller of the year.

136 High Street, Marlborough, Wiltshire, 01672 512071




The Crooked Book, Bournemouth Dorset

Love the Crooked Book which houses a vast well picked selection of books and comics, and vintage homeware. There's a cafe here too serving really good coffee, teas and cakes, it's somewhere to hole up on a wintry afternoon. Owner Jamie Miller also hosts open mic nights where he sells wine and serves up anything from poetry recitals to magic. Head here for some quiet me-time.

St Ives Bookseller, Cornwall

This is also part of the family run Mabecron Books who own the Falmouth Bookseller. With Cornish slate floors and oak bookcases this is a great bookshop to spend time in and then head down to the beach with your new books. With a great children’s section this may be small but its got a great range. Also has a good signed book section – perfect for presents.

 2 Fore Street, St Ives,  Cornwall, 01736 796676

The Book Shop, Bridport, Dorset

What with the annual Bridport Prize for authors, a renowned lit fest and a high street stuffed with second hand book shops, you could say Bridport is a mecca for the Bibliophile. We love the Book Shop which sells both new and second hand books, hand picked and full of surprises.  If you can't get what you need in the shop itself it also has an efficient ordering service where you can normally get your book in a couple of days. Great staff recommendations and a huge selection of Dorset books. Fantastic selection of cards and presents with a literary twist.  Bridport also has a great selection of vintage book shops and it's definitely worth checking out the well named Wild and Homeless Books and one of our favourite places to browse, Bridport Old Books.

14 South Street, Bridport, 01308 42 964

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