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
UNITOM, 1A Stevenson Square, Manchester, M1 1DN - Visit now
NQ newcomer UNITOM steps into a Magma-shaped gap and is home to a wide array of publications on contemporary art, design, fashion, photography and counterculture, alongside a vast range of independent magazines and small press titles, including local publishers like Confingo.
Catalog Bookshop, Oxford Road, Manchester, M1 7DU - Visit now
All the best alternative books and independent magazines you could wish to find on the back of a bike – and just a bunnyhop, skip and a jump from Manchester Poetry Library too. Watch this space for a new less moveable bookstore feast in the shape of a Catalog container.
Queer Lit, 39 Tib Street, Manchester, M41LX - Visit now
Manchester’s award-winning independent gay bookshop has an extensive range of over 2,000 LGBTQIA+ titles to immerse yourself in – and if they don’t have what you’re looking for, just ask and they’ll pop it on their order list for you.
Blackwell’s Manchester, University Green 146 Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 9GP - Visit now
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 – keep an eye on our Literature Guide for details.
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, alongside wordy workshops and arty goings-on (keep an eye on our Tours and Activities Guide for more).
Bopcap Books, Antiques Village, 965 Stockport Road, Manchester, M19 3NP - Visit now
This indie bookseller is run by husband-and-wife team Ian and Suzy out of Levenshulme Antiques Village in the Old Town Hall, complete with a vinyl soundtrack and offering a carefully curated collection of previously owned books and ephemera.
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, and even delivered locally during lockdown.
Greenhouse Books, 6 Rectory Court, Wilmslow Road, Cheadle, SK8 1DW - Visit now
Under new management in Cheadle Village, readings and performances are often lined up, or sniff out Greenhouse for damn fine coffee and homemade vegan cakes (the rocky road is popular). 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.
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, you might spot the Deansgate branch of Waterstones appearing in our Literature Guide for hosting regular book launches and signings with authors and other in-store events.
Anywhere Out of The World, First Floor, 70 Tib St, Manchester, M4 1LG - Visit now
Hidden gem of a bookshop in the Northern Quarter stocking shelves upon shelves of secondhand tomes. Seek out the staircase next to Beermoth beershop – it’s a bit like a real-life version of Mr Smith’s Dream at the nearby Manchester Craft Centre.
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.
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.
Peste, 70 Oldham Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 5EB - Visit now
Loitering on a corner of Oldham Road at the edge of Ancoats is Peste, where church kneelers are provided from which you may worship the carefully curated bookshelves. Feminist classics by Simone de Beauvoir jostle for attention with Lighthouse editions of Frank O’Hara poems; coffee table art books peacock alongside up-to-the-minute auto fiction. Readings are also becoming de rigueur, so definitely watch this space.
The Art of Tea, 47 Barlow Moor Rd, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6TW - Visit now
Yes, we know The Art Of Tea is a go-to for brunch classics and, er, tea, but snuggled away at the back is the Didsbury Village Bookshop (not to be confused with the Didsbury bookshop Mortens, on quaint old cobbledy Warburton Street, but why not visit both?). This secondhand treasure trove has tons of reference books, a whole lot of poetry and more Penguin Classics than you could shake a penguin-keeper’s stick at.