My heart sinks imagining a world without bookshops. What other breed of high-street shop can transport you to another world, fire your imagination and hold the key to your next life-changing read? Why, bookshops, of course. To celebrate Independent Bookshop Week, and show support for these vulnerable community hubs, I’ve put together a guide to my favourite and best independent bookshops in Brighton and Hove to inspire you in Brighton travel planning.
Bookshops in Brighton
1 Savery Books. This unpretentious family-run bookshop in the residential Fiveways community is a city secret, often overlooked by visitors in favour of those in the centre of town. Miss it though and you miss out! Outside the front (when it’s open) books filling boxes on tables entice you in. Inside, floor-to-ceiling shelves burst with modern and classic reads, all in great condition. As it’s the only bookshop in the area, it operates – you could say – a circular economy in that the community donates books for the community to buy and donate back.
Find Savery Books at 257 Ditchling Road, Brighton BN1 6JH. Open Monday to Sunday, 10am–2pm
2 Books for Amnesty. You can’t miss this second-hand charity bookshop on Sydney Street in the North Laine, also known as The Amnesty Bookshop. It’s a proper grass-roots community hub, open since 2007, run by volunteers and stocked with donated books focusing on contemporary fiction, social sciences, art, poetry, drama, history and children’s books. Ethical gifts, like Fairtrade chocolate and coffee, cards, and Amnesty-branded products are available, too. There’s always something bizarre to discover and all the money they make is donated to Amnesty International UK.
Find Books for Amnesty at 15 Sydney Street, Brighton BN1 4EN. Open Monday to Saturday, 11am–5.30pm; Sunday 12pm-4pm
3 Raining Books. The only bookshop in Brighton – if not the world – with a window display of books on wonky shelves. Inside, it’s as jumbled as the display would suggest. Books, it appears, have rained down from the sky all over the shop, onto shelves, tables, chairs, the floor, and anywhere there’s available space. It might look chaotic but somehow the owner knows where every book is – even the most obscure of titles. It’s one of the best Brighton bookshops to pick up a bargain, with the most expensive books costing around £4 or £5.
Find Raining Books at 28 Trafalgar Street, Brighton BN1 4DY. Open Monday to Saturday, 10.30am–6pm
4 The Smallest Bookshop in Brighton. Only true Brightonians know of this diminutive bookseller I discovered by chance one Saturday morning in the Open Market near Preston Circus. The size of a market stall filled with a wide range of second-hand books, including lots of cult classics at reasonable prices. They also have two other tiny outlets inside Brighton pubs: The Independent Taproom and Beer Shop on Queen’s Park Road and The Dover Castle pub on Southover Street in Hanover. They also deliver locally.
Find The Smallest Bookshop in Brighton at The Open Market on Marshalls Row, Brighton BN1 4J; Dover Castle pub at 43 Southover Street, Brighton BN2 9UE and the Independent Taproom and Beer Shop at 95 Queens Park Road, Brighton BN2 0GH
5 The Oxfam Bookshop. Kensington Gardens in the North Laine is an intriguing historic alleyway lined with curious little buildings housing indie shops, but, it gets seriously crowded at the weekend and during holidays. The Oxfam Bookshop is a place to bookmark, excuse the pun, for escaping said crowds if you find yourself in the area needing a refuge. Once inside, make a beeline for the shelf of vintage books all with beautiful illustrated covers. Oxfam branded gifts like Fairtrade chocolate are for sale, too.
Find The Oxfam Bookshop at 30 Kensington Gardens, Brighton BN1 4AL. Open Monday to Friday, 10am-5.30pm; Saturday 10am-6pm; Sunday closed
6 The Feminist Bookshop. This is Brighton’s newest and most radical bookshop and it’s set in the founder, Ruth’s, front room. It started as a feminist book club held in members’ living rooms around Brighton and Hove, as a way to make new friends with a shared love of feminist literature. The community grew fast which inspired her to set up the shop in 2019 after a successful crowdfunding campaign. As the name suggests, every book it stocks is either written by a female author or takes a feminist stance. It’s small, cosy and modern inside and manages to fit in a little café serving drinks and cakes.
Find The Feminist Bookshop and café at 48 Upper North Street, Brighton BN1 3FH. Open Wednesday and Thursday, 11am-5pm, Friday to Sunday 11am-6pm
7 Goldsboro Books. The Brighton outpost of the London bookseller specialising in first editions, both new and second-hand, some signed. Second-hand in this case means rare and collectable, rather than well-thumbed holiday paperbacks, with prices starting at around £80 up to £11,000. Yikes! Apparently, Goldsboro was the only bookshop in the world to have signed copies of The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, aka JK Rowling, for sale. A subscription service is available which sounds great: each month they send you a signed first-edition hardback fiction book. It’s also the closest independent bookshop in Brighton on this list to the seafront.
Find Goldsboro Books at 22b Ship Street, Brighton BN1. Open Monday to Friday, 10am-6pm; Saturday 11am-5pm
8 City Books. An unpretentious local favourite, opened by a local couple, Paul and Inge Sweetman, in the mid-1980s. It’s unique for its extensive selection of local interest books, which includes Secret Brighton and Secret Sussex, which you may – or may not – have heard of, ahem. It’s renowned for its schedule of literary evenings with well-known guest speakers, such as Brighton locals Nick Cave and Peter James, as well as others like Jo Brand, Ranulph Fiennes, Vic Reeves, Will Self, Sarah Dunant, Iain M Banks, Grayson Perry, Yotam Ottolenghi, Mary Beard, and Caitlin Moran to name a few.
Find City Books at 23 Western Road, Hove, BN3 1AF. Open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am-5.30pm; Sunday, 11am-4.30pm
9 The Kemptown Bookshop. A smart bookshop in Kemp Town Village you stumble on following this guided walk. Set in a smart Regency townhouse makes browsing feel like you’re in someone’s home. There are three floors to wander. Two are filled with new books and gifts, while the top floor is a space for writers to work quietly. As well as new adult and children’s books, it also sells irresistible stationery, the kind that looks so good you don’t want to use it or you’ll mess it up. Maybe that’s just me? They also sell gifts including children’s toys and games, as well as fine art prints.
Find The Kemptown Bookshop at 91 St George’s Road, Brighton BN2 1EE. Open Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm