Sure, you know where to buy your course books and holiday fiction. There’s Amazon for quick deliveries, Oxfam for second-hand books, and of course Waterstones. But many of us don’t just love the books, but the experience of browsing the shelves, stumbling across something new, and being literally surrounded by books. If that sounds like you, then perhaps you should try exploring these unique independent bookshops in York.
The Little Apple Bookshop
Where: 13 High Petergate, YO1 7EN
What makes it special: The Little Apple sells signed copies of many of the latest fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as an eclectic range of book-related gifts. My personal favourites are the Moomin postcards.
Aesthetic: The stock is shiny, new and satisfyingly ordered.
Vibe: Modern and up-to-date.
Student-friendly: Although the books are brand new, making them a bit more pricey, there is a good selection of Wordsworth Classics at the back which are £2.50 each! It’s also worth knowing that the staff can order any book in print upon request.
The Grimoire Bookshop
Where: 7 High Petergate, YO1 7EN (a couple of doors down from the Little Apple Bookshop)
What makes it special: This bookshop specialises in antiquarian and second-hand books; from collector’s books to graphic novels, they’ve got it all. If you’re looking for something niche and specific, you might just find it here. I’d especially recommend the sci-fi and fantasy room.
Aesthetic: Dusty and cluttered: the perfect place to hide in on a rainy day. There are also little decorations everywhere, like masks on the wall and quirky paintings.
Vibe: Kinda spooky. I mean, ‘grimoire’ literally means ‘book of spells’.
Student-friendly: The prices range from very high (collector’s editions) to low (paperback fiction). While there is a range of books to choose from, the order of them is somewhat confusing and doesn’t always conform to alphabetical sequence.
Where: 36 Fossgate, YO1 9TF
What makes it special: Fossgate houses a number of rare second-hand books and specialist publications, particularly on history and in foreign languages.
Aesthetic: The stacks of books everywhere turn the shop into a maze.
Vibe: Delightfully chaotic.
Student-friendly: Most of the books here are a lot cheaper than brand-new, and there are plenty to choose from. However, the stairs and narrowness make it limited for accessibility.
Fun fact: If you have a rare edition, you can even sell it to the shop yourself! I’ve seen people do it.
Minster Gate Books
Where: 8 Minster Gates, YO1 7HL
What makes it special: The sheer number of books in here is astonishing! With five floors of a Georgian townhouse to explore, you could spend hours in here. They also stock a range of old maps and prints, if you want something different for your bedroom walls!
Aesthetic: Extremely instagrammable, being just around the corner from York Minster itself and a short walk from The Shambles. Also, it’s right next to Hebden Tea, and we know that tea and books are a match made in heaven.
Vibe: Bustling and historic.
Student-friendly: Minster Gate always have special deals on, making it a somewhat cheap place to browse. Most of the books, however, are expensive editions. Another problem with browsing Minster Gate Books is, again, the accessibility – the stairs are steep and the paths are narrow.
Fun fact: The bookshop is on a street that has been associated with bookselling since 1580, formerly known as Bookland Lane!