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Best Bookshops in Bath

Tuesday 14 May 2024

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Whether you are in search of independent bookshops, first editions, or rare second-hand examples, you can be sure to find plenty of great reading material in. Renowned for its architecture and connection to ancient Rome, this World Heritage City also has plenty to offer when it comes to the literary scene. Plus, there are plenty of literary histories hidden around the city, including a landscape that inspired Jane Austen. So, pack a page-turner and embark on a journey with CrossCountry as we unveil the best bookstores in Bath.

Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath

Arguably the most beautiful bookshop in all of Bath, Topping & Company is the place of choice for discerning readers and casual page-flickers alike. Now situated in a historic building following a recent move from a more modest location, it is just as striking on the outside as it is on the inside. In addition to a mountain of literature, visitors can expect to be greeted by striking wood-panelled fittings and old-fashioned ladders that oscillate according to the needs of well-trained staff.

For those seeking gifts, whether for themselves or a loved one, Topping & Company offers an impressive selection of signed books. Also, visitors are more than welcome to a free cup of tea or coffee during visits – something that is likely to keep book lovers among the shelves for an extra hour or two.

Mr B’s Emporium

Another impressive bookshop in the heart of Bath is Mr B’s Emporium, an award-winning establishment that confidently states that ‘books reign supreme’ within its walls. Despite only opening its doors to the public in 2006, it has been named the nation’s best independent bookshop on two separate occasions.

If you’re looking for a recommendation, there will always be a member of staff willing to offer up a piece of advice; not least because of the business’s emphasis on ‘opiniated bookselling’. Of course, preferring to browse without any distractions is also perfectly fine. Regular events also breathe new life into the space, while armchairs and conveniently placed seats allow deep dives into an unexpected find at a moment’s notice. No trip to Bath is complete for lovers of literature without venturing inside Mr B’s Emporium of reading delights.

Piles of books.

George Bayntun

For first editions and rare books, George Bayntun is the go-to destination. This world-famous bookshop is also home to the renowned Bayntun-Riviere bindery, an institution that dates all the way back to 1829. Fine bindings, old and new, are its raison d'etre. An emphasis on English literature, as well as more unusual offerings, sets the business apart. Interestingly, Queen Mary was a frequent patron, granting the business its first Royal appointment in 1950 – so it comes highly recommended!

In the basement of this former sorting office lies the second-hand book department, a place in which all subjects are covered, but the focus remains very much on 19th and 20th century literature. Historically significant, stocked with beautiful editions and a pleasure to behold – literature lovers should be sure not to overlook this fine establishment during your time in Bath.

Persephone Books

Persephone Books is well beloved around the UK as the business acts as both a publisher and a bookseller. It also specialises in neglected varieties of fiction and non-fiction, primarily by female writers. Residing in a Grade II listed building, it also has a warm and inviting interior – so much so that you may never want to leave.

With book groups, lunches, small concerts, and informal film showings, Persephone Books is more than just a shop. In fact, it is a place of ideas and cultural exchange. Those with an eye for merchandise will also be spoiled for choice. From the ever-reliable tote bag to an equally useful umbrella, there really is something for everyone. If the books and ideas don’t quite hit the right note, at least leave with a souvenir to remember this unique place.

Magalleria

Despite the title of this article, Magalleria is still worthy of a mention. If you happen to be in Bath and want to look beyond the local newsagent in search for high-quality magazines, Magalleria can help. Its shelves accommodate a range of publications, ranging from art, design, and fashion to other broader categories. You will even find books, too.

Magazines continue to hold cultural weight, both for the satisfaction that print offers and the fashion photography that continues to influence modern perceptions. Being able to find all that the creative world of print has to offer under one roof is among the many treasures of finding yourself in the centre of this historic city.

How to get to Bath by train:

CrossCountry trains operate directly to Bristol Temple Meads, from which you can travel to this beautiful corner of Somerset – and specifically Bath Spa station – in approximately fifteen minutes.

If you’re planning on visiting some of the best bookshops in Bath, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or the CrossCountry app. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

Written by Julia

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