More than set-dressing for your brand-new vintage-look shelves, books are there to learn from and lose yourself in — and are the perfect gift for just about anybody. From best-selling new releases to well-thumbed hand-me-downs, via comics, cookery, and the downright kooky, here’s our guide to the best bookshops in Manchester.
Here are our picks
Blackwell’s Manchester, University Green 146 Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 9GP - Visit now
Portakabin be gone – Blackwell’s shiny new shop is cavernous and comes complete with a cafe. The exclusive bookseller at University Green, the specialists in specialist and academic reading’s flagship store in the North West also stocks plenty of fiction, and has a jam-packed programme of author events lined up – keep an eye on our Literature Guide for details.
Waterstones Manchester Deansgate, 91 Deansgate, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 2BW - Visit now
Waterstones are the reigning champions of high street bookshops, but don’t let that put you off. Filled to the brim with all the titles you would expect, the Deansgate branch of Waterstones frequently appears in our Literature Guide for hosting regular signings and in-store events, including the experimental poetry gig Peter Barlow’s Cigarette.
Chapter 1 Books, 19 Lever Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1BY - Visit now
Chapter 1 Books is an independent bookshop and coffee shop on Lever Street. The coffee is good, the cakes are excellent, and the books are beautifully displayed. They also have a fountain, naturally, and regular readings and performances.
Chorlton Bookshop, 506 Wilbraham Road, Manchester, M21 9AW - Visit now
If you have ever dreamed of owning a bookshop, it probably looked like this one. Pleasingly petite, family-owned with a good selection of books, and even pet-friendly. Perfect. And forget Amazon – Chorlton Bookshop will happily order in anything not on the shelves.
Greenhouse Books, 6 Rectory Court, Wilmslow Road, Cheadle, SK8 1DW - Visit now
Under new management in Cheadle Village, post-pandemic performances are promised, but in the meantime sniff out Greenhouse for damn fine coffee, homemade cakes and vegan soup. Oh, and books! With both pre-loved product and hot-off-the-press titles, Jonny and the team curate some great “local” displays, and graphic novels and comics also line the creaking shelves.
International Anthony Burgess Foundation (IABF),
Engine House, Chorlton Mill,
3 Cambridge Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 5BY - Visit now
As well as holding the archive of one of Manchester’s most famous writers (and, according to the centre’s director, one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions), the IABF has a well-stocked bookstore for Burgess fans, lining the wall’s of the rather pleasant cafe. What’s more, live literature events, bookclubs, poetry readings and spoken-word nights are regular features.
HOME Manchester, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4FN - Visit now
As well as the most unrivalled cinema screens in Manchester, some of the city’s best theatre, exhibition spaces, and bar and restaurant, HOME has a bookshop. It stocks books and magazines which complement HOME’s artistic programme as well as local independently produced publications and journals alongside a cracking choice of geetings cards.
Magma Books, 22 Oldham Street, Manchester, Manchester, M1 1JN - Visit now
If you need a book on which to rest that Leica camera you’ve never got around to using, head straight to the Manchester branch of Magma. There are lots of beautiful books about architecture, film, art and so on, and a great choice of independent magazines, including the now Northern Quarter-based Modernist Society’s own must-have quarterly, alongside quirky gifts, cards and wrapping paper.
Travelling Man, 4 Dale St, Manchester, M1 1JW - Visit now
If you like your comic books with some role-playing games on the side, look no further than Travelling Man. The choice of books, comics and graphic novels is arguably the best in Manchester. Plus the staff are friendly and knowledgeable.
Forbidden Planet International, 65 Oldham St, Manchester, M1 1JR - Visit now
If you’re still wondering how C3PO got that red arm (and who isn’t?), then you’ll probably want to start your shopping here. The Waterstones of the geek world, Forbidden Planet has books, comics and some undeniably cool pop culture merch to boot. Hulk Hands, anyone?
Paramount Books, 25-27 Shudehill, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 2AF - Visit now
The award for the bookshop with the most personality goes to… Paramount books. A paradise for those looking for something a little unusual, there’s also the opportunity to sell books and comics as well as buy.