Holidays & Travel

Plot a visit to these UK indie bookstores for a novel day out

Blending history, art, culture and good coffee, independent bookstores make the perfect focus for a day trip, says Sarah Marshall.

Independent book stores are packed with personality
Little Acorns Bookstore shop front (Little Acorns/PA) Independent book stores are packed with personality

Despite the unstoppable juggernaut of digital media, nothing beats a good read in print. Shoving Kindles to the back our cupboards, we’ve reignited a love affair with the tactile joy of holding a book in our hands and thumbing through pages.

As a result, independent bookstores across the UK and Ireland are enjoying a renaissance, celebrated by Independent Book Week every year. From June 15-22, 700 bookshops will host author talks, workshops and special events.

But any day of the week there’s likely to be something happening in these cherished community spaces, which have become much more than a place to buy books. From cafes stocking artisan goods to art galleries showcasing local talent, there’s plenty to discover on a day out.

Plan an indie book crawl with the help of a detailed map on Books Are My Bag website, or visit one of our top five favourite picks.

Script Haven, Worcester

Script Haven
Script Haven

Much more than a bookshop, Leena Batchelor’s caring and sharing project provides a service to the community. Unlike conventional retailers, she gives shelf space to self-published authors and donates second-hand books to families. Walls are decorated with work by local artists, providing a talking point for friends who meet for coffee and cake in the on-site cafe. Creative workshops and spoken word events are regularly held in the 16th century listed building close to Worcester Cathedral, which once served as a hotel for the likes of Charles Dickens. Visit

Little Acorn Bookstore, Derry, Northern Ireland

Little Acorns Bookstore Young Adult & Seating area
Little Acorns Bookstore Young Adult & Seating area

Hours can be spent scanning shelves and perusing paperbacks – especially if there’s a comfortable place to sit. Two chairs in this popular residential store stand out in particular, attracting tourists eager to snap shots for social media. Dubbed the LegenDerry Writers’ Chair and the LegenDerry Theatre and Media Chair, the wooden antique schoolteacher’s seats have been signed by more than 350 famous authors, musicians and actors. While no bums are permitted to perch on the prized items, there are plenty of other quiet spots to sit and scan the store’s stock of 25,000 books. Visit

Niche Comics Bookshop, Huntingdon

Niche Comics Bookshop
Niche Comics Bookshop

Selling books is a family affair for Angela Makey and her two sons, who run this quirky enterprise together. While Adam takes care of the board games and Pokemon cards, Guy is a master of music and arts with a passion for amateur dramatics on the side. Fun and frivolity fill the walls of this two-floor 16th century timber-framed house, with a courtyard centred around an olive tree. Find books new and old, comics and collectible miniatures from medieval fantasy tabletop game Warhammer. Visit

The Celtic House, Isle of Islay, Scotland

The Celtic House
The Celtic House (Alamy Stock Photo)

As far as scenic stores go, this far-flung family-run premises in the Scottish Highlands is hard to beat. Set next to the island of Jura, famous for its whisky production, Islay also has a large number of distilleries producing peaty single malts. The Roy family originally constructed the building in 1959 on the site of the village telephone box. Today communication is done face to face in the store’s cosy cafe over a slice of home-baked cake. Along with books, souvenirs of Celtic knitwear and jewellery are also for sale. Visit

Argonaut Books, Edinburgh, Scotland

Argonaut Books
Argonaut Books

Memorable, perhaps, for all the wrong reasons, there’s a scene in Irvine Welsh’s cult classic Trainspotting featuring Scotland’s Leith Central Station. Key character Renton describes the place as “barren, desolate hangar, soon tae be demolished,” before relieving himself. Far from being an empty space, the station is home to this bookshop, where – amongst many other titles – Welsh’s controversial novel is stocked. There’s also a very pleasant cafe, selling coffee by Artisan Roast Coffee Roasters, a Scottish speciality micro-roaster based in Edinburgh, and tea handcrafted from PekoeTea Edinburgh. Visit

Independent Bookshop Week will be from June 15 to 22 June. Visit for more information about events taking place across the UK and Ireland.