10 Best Bookshops in Bath In 2023

best book shops in bath

Bath is well-known by book lovers thanks to making an appearance in novels by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Geoffrey Chaucer, as well as being an inspirational place for writers like Mary Shelley to create their masterpieces.

Throughout the year you’ll find literary festivals celebrating specific authors (Jane Austen), children’s literature, and special events to attend. 

Pick up some paperbacks, browse bookshelves for a rare book, or just enjoy the atmosphere of the best bookshops in Bath.

1. Mr B’s Reading Emporium

mr b's emporium bath

Tucked away on John Street, Mr B’s has become a Bath institution since it opened in 2006.

Founded by two ex-lawyers, Mr B’s is a creative and welcoming space that keeps expanding but maintains its charm with rooms like the kid-centric The Woods Between the Words with colourful reading trees, an Imaginarium to inspire writers, and the upstairs reading salon with comfy chairs.

Dip into a clawfoot bathtub full of books, take one from the reading tree, or ask staff for recommendations as they pride themselves on being opinionated about books! If you’re shy there are plenty of personal recommendations written on labels by books as well. 

The award-winning independent bookshop also offers fun gifts like a Reading Spa, mystery books, and a subscription service to keep book lovers entertained. Look out for author events and themed evenings at the colourful store, too.  

Address: 13-15 John Street, Bath, BA1 2JL

Phone: 01225 331155

2. Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath

toppings bookshop library

Family-run, with other independent bookshops in Ely, Edinburgh and St Andrews, Topping & Company spent 14 years on the Paragon before moving to York Street in 2021. 

Now situated in a Georgian building that was formerly known as the Friends Meeting House (and was originally designed to be a Masonic Hall in 1817 by William Wilkins, architect of The National Gallery), the bookshop is only a stone’s throw from the Abbey. 

Walk up the steps to enter the majestic store and get a glimpse of the floor to ceiling beautiful book spines. The handcrafted shelves have traditional rolling ladders, so you can live out all your library dreams.

With more than 75,000 books set over a main hall, lower hall, and gallery, Topping & Company’s Bath store is one of the biggest indie bookshops in the UK.

Browse the extensive selection of books and enjoy a complimentary tea or coffee as you sink down into a comfy sofa. It’s one of the best bookshops in Bath. 

Head here from September to December every year for special events at their Autumn Literary Festival, or check the website for upcoming events.

Address: York Street, Bath, BA1 1NG

Phone: 01225 428111

3. Bath Old Books

bath old book shop

Just like the name suggests, Bath Old Books specialises in secondhand and antiquarian books! The long-established independent bookstore sits in the historical heart of Bath between the Royal Crescent and the Circus. 

Chat with the friendly owners, pick up a paperback, flick through some fiction, or track down a rare tome.

Wander down to the basement for more books, and look out for special collections that focus on Bath, Jane Austen, art and architecture, travel, and topography. You’ll also find a great selection of illustrated books for kids, too!

Address: 9c Margarets Buildings, Bath, United Kingdom

Phone: 01225 422244

4. George Bayntun

george bayntun bath book shop

Steeped in history, George Bayntun is home to the Bayntun-Riviere bindery, which dates back to 1829. 

Still owned by the family of the original 19th century bookbinder, George Bayntun, the little bookshop has pretty much started the same since the 1930s.

Back then the same furniture was already antique, so it’s like stepping back in time to another world. Robert Riviere founded the bindery in Bath in 1829, with George Bayntun following his example in 1894 and becoming a world-renowned master of the craft.

Today the Bayntun-Riviere bindery is one of the only remaining Victorian binderies where everything is still done by hand. 

Book a free tour of the bindery (call in advance), get a book bound, or explore the fine books including antiquarian books that date back over 500 years! 

Address: 23 Manvers Street, Bath, BA1 1JW

Phone: 01225 466000

5. Skoobs Book Stall

skoobs book stall bath guild hall

Skoobs has been a staple of the historic Guildhall Market for more than 30 years. 

Explore the piles of paperbacks and pick up a second hand bargain across a range of genres, covering everything from true crime to true love, contemporary classics, sci fi and sagas. 

Not sure what to buy? Ask the friendly booksellers for a recommendation. Next door, you’ll find colourful rugs from the William Armes company on a stall owned by the same people. 

It’s one of the best bookshops in Bath if you’re looking for cheap books!

Address: 40/42 Guildhall Market, Bath BA2 4AW

Phone: 01225 463133

6. Persephone Books

Image credit: Books & Bao

Not just any bookshop, Persephone Books specializes in reprints of neglected fiction and non-fiction, mostly by women writers from the mid-twentieth century, especially the 1930s and 1940s. 

Eschewing more commercial or literary titles, the 145 books in the collection range from gardening and cookery books to novels, short stories, diaries, memoirs, and poetry. 

Inside the store you’ll find the distinctive books that feature an elegant grey jacket and a ‘fabric’ endpaper with matching bookmark. 

The building itself is pretty incredible, having been built in 1761 as a house and then used as a shop since the 1920s. When Persephone Books moved in in 2021, the team uncovered Art Deco decorative ironwork and now the ‘piano nobile’ area on the first floor is the Persephone Parlour. The Parlour hosts book events, small concerts, film evenings, and educational lunches, alongside tea and cake chats with contemporary writers.  

Address: 8 Edgar Buildings, Bath BA1 2EE 

Phone: 01225 425050

7. Waterstones

waterstones bath book shop

Although it’s a national chain, Waterstones is in a beautiful building on Milsom Street that is flooded with light from the Art Deco windows and the first floor even has a sprung dance floor if you feel like skipping through the 55,000 titles spread over three floors!

Opened in the 1980s, it’s a solid choice for high street books with a range of big name author events and a pit stop at  Café W to fuel up with cake and coffee. 

It’s one of the best bookshops in Bath for those wanting a good selection to choose from.

Address: 4-5 Milsom Street, Bath, BA1 1DA

Phone: 01225 448515

8. Bath Oxfam Books & Music

bath oxfam book shop

Another national brand that has a lot of choice is Oxfam on Lower Borough Walls. Open since 2001, the stock changes rapidly as people make daily donations, and the well-curated selection covers a range of themes, with a strong history section.  

You’ll also find tons of CDs and classic vinyl if you want to stock up on music, too. Proceeds go to good causes around the world, so you can feel good about grabbing a pile of books that you might not have time to read!

Address: 4/5 Lower Borough Wall, Bath, BA1 1QR
Phone: 01225 469776

9. The Oldfield Park Bookshop

oldfield park book shop

Moorland Road is a little gem of a road just outside the centre of Bath, where you’ll find a string of independent businesses from chic gifts stores to charity shops. 

Inside The Oldfield Park Bookshop you’ll find a cosy cave of books, across two rooms (one very small in stature) and you can ask for recommendations from owner Harry  if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. 

Well-stocked with a wide range of books, here is the place to head for a more relaxed reading experience and also a great place to find graphic novels and cards designed by local illustrators. 

Address: 43 Moorland Road, Bath, BA2 3PN

Phone: 01225 427722

10. The Beaufort Bookshop

beaufort bookshop bath

Located in Larkhall on the east fringe of Bath, The Beaufort Bookshop is at the heart of the community and a fantastic place to take young readers with a large selection of kids books.

Owner Dr James Thomas, a former secondary school headteacher, also offers English tutouring in the shop to help kids with their love of reading.

Need a space to relax and read? Rent the AirBnB flat above the shop and stay the night. The bookshop is close to the Rondo Theatre too, so you can get your fill of culture. 

Address: 1 Beaufort Place, Larkhall, Bath

Phone: 01225 571908

That’s the best book shops in Bath! Now you’ve stocked up on books, head to one of Bath’s many beautiful cafes for a cup of coffee and a good read!

More To Explore