11 of Scotland's Best Independent Bookshops
Big or small, old or new, Scotland's bookshops are amazing, and we're here to highlight the best
In 2016, we published a list of the best independent bookshops in Scotland. Now, we're updating this list for 2019 to include bookshops that will be new to some and familiar to others, all of which are worth a look.
Edinburgh's best independent bookshops
A short walk from Edinburgh Castle, Armchair Books exudes homely charm. This small, family-run bookshop packs its towering shelves of books to the brim. With everything from contemporary books to tomes that look like they belong in a museum, Armchair Books is sure to have your next favourite story. 72-74 West Port, Edinburgh
From its founding in 2007, the Edinburgh Bookshop has been a well-loved fixture of the city’s literary scene. In fact, it was given the honour of being the Scottish Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2018. It’s easy to see why – the bookshop offers a stimulating selection of stories for all ages, and it also regularly hosts community events for readers and writers alike. Located at Holy Corner, the Edinburgh Bookshop is a great place to have a read or play with some Lego, whatever tickles your fancy. 219 Bruntsfield Pl, Edinburgh
Sat in the heart of Stockbridge, Golden Hare's shelves feature an interesting and exciting range of fiction and non-fiction for adults and kids alike. Far from just flogging you books then herding you out, Golden Hare are keen community-builders, hosting regular literary events including a monthly book club to help you keep on the literary straight-and-narrow. 68 St. Stephen Street, Edinburgh
Golden Hare Books in Stockbridge.
Lighthouse (formerly Word Power Books)
No list of indie bookshops would be complete without Lighthouse in Newington. Since opening more than 20 years ago as Word Power Books, this bookshop has acted as a safe haven for indie publishers, revolutionary thinkers and passionate literary fans alike. Never afraid to take a radical stance, Lighthouse also hosts the annual Edinburgh Book Fringe every August to serve as a counter to the main Book Festival, as well as stocking a staggering range of prose, poetry and political tomes. 43-45 West Nicolson St, Edinburgh
Sci-fi fans are well-served by Transreal in Edinburgh's Old Town. Dedicated to science fiction and fantasy literature since opening in the late 1990s, Transreal is packed with genre fiction by authors from across the globe – the deceptively large range of cuddly toys on offer is an unexpected but welcome bonus. 46 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh
Glasgow's best independent bookshops
Housed in the CCA on Sauchiehall Street, Aye-Aye offers books from independent publishers from across the globe, as well as a large range of publications from contemporary Scottish artists. There's also a range of fiction, poetry, magazines, journals and music on offer – take a peek and you're bound to find something you'll like. 350 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow
Co-owners Charlotte and Fi Duffy-Scott describe Category Is as a “fiercely independent Queer Bookshop in the southside of Glasgow”. This wife and wife team have dedicated their bookshop to celebrating queer stories. Category Is has a wide variety of stories from and about the LGBTQIA+ community in media from books and comics to film and art. All are welcome to this bookshop – whether you’d like to pick up a new book, learn about the community, or get a haircut from their queer-inclusive barber. 34 Allison St, Glasgow
Category Is Books in Glasgow.
An artist-run bookshop and gallery space in Glasgow city centre, Good Press serves up self-published publications and zines as well as work by contemporaries from far and wide. Even those who don't consider themselves zine-connoisseurs can be eased into the inky wonderland of Good Press by browsing their quirky miscellany of totes, prints and cassette mixtapes, and their regular exhibitions and accompanying launch parties are a good place to start. 5 St. Margaret's Pl, Glasgow
Tucked away in Glasgow's West End, the Hyndland Bookshop features everything you could want from a neighbourhood bookstore with the kind of order and organisation to be expected in a shop founded by a pair of former librarians. A carefully-selected range awaits, as does an interesting range of arthouse DVDs, greeting cards and more. 143 Hyndland Rd, Glasgow
The best bookshops elsewhere in Scotland
Leakey’s Bookshop (Inverness)
Coming up on its thirtieth year in business, Leakey’s Bookshop has the distinctive trait of calling an eighteenth-century Gaelic church its home. This shop has books piled and shelved from floor to rafter, all a safe distance away from the wood-burning fireplace. Leakey’s houses over 100,000 books, making it Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop. Stop by for a casual peruse or a lengthy voyage among the shelves. Church St, Inverness
This Way Up (Dundee)
This Way Up is the place to be whether you’re looking for a good read or a good tune. The shop specialises in all manners of classic and modern fiction, with a strong focus on science fiction and 20th century literature. Besides its eclectic collection of classic and modern books, This Way Up is also home to a range of music on vinyl, CDs, and cassettes. Two former librarians founded this bookshop in 2017, and it has since become a welcome cultural addition to Dundee’s West End. 85b Perth Rd, Dundee