If you’re anything like Chris Finch (bloody good rep), then you’ll probably read about a book a week.
The biggest threats to the humble bookstore in recent years have been Amazon and charity shops – but neither can compete with the sheer joy of pottering around a proper, independent bookshop, talking to knowledgable staff and finding a rare gem behind a pile of Mills & Boon.
These independent bookshops are perfect for that experience, and more…
A bookshop on wheels, Catalog Books is the brainchild of self-confessed bookworm Peter Tzouanos, a man who came back from a trip to Copenhagen and set about designing and making his mobile bookstore a reality. He stocks a diverse range of curated books and zines, and you can find him on Oxford Road, next to All Saints Park, just a little bit down from the fruit & veg fella.
The Modernist on Port Street in the Northern Quarter is the public face of The Modernist Society, which was founded just over a decade ago by Eddy Rhead and Jack Hale. It was created as a focus for post-war modernist architecture in Manchester, and The Modernist is the ‘public face and space’ for celebrating good design, holding talks, hosting exhibitions and selling some pretty sexy books too.
The Modernist, 58 Port St, Manchester M1 2EQ
A Mancunian institution, Paramount Books on Shudehill is legendary, if not for its immense book selection, then for its erratic opening times, blaring music and the fact that they make you turn your phone off when you’re in there. It’s been around since the 60s this place, and there’s an amazingly odd selection of books in there. A must-visit.
Paramount Books, 25-27 Shudehill, Manchester M4 2AF
Opening up on Tib Street during Pride Weekend in 2021, Queer Lit is the city’s first dedicated gay bookshop and it’s absolutely fantastic. The journey to opening up the bookstore was a rollercoaster for owner Matthew Cornford, after he successfully ran an online queer bookshop during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now home to over 1700 LGBTQ+ titles, you’ll find famous authors alongside hard-to-find and rare books, as well as children’s books – with everything handily categories and arranged for ultimate ease.
Queer Lit, 39 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LX
A fantastic, quaint little bookshop right on the high street in Chorlton, that’s been family owned and run since 1983. There’s always an impressive offering of fiction, non-fiction and children’s, plus regular events including signings and evenings with some of the world’s greatest authors.
Chorlton Bookshop, 506 Wilbraham Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9AW
Didsbury Village Bookshop
A second-hand, vintage bookshop now, tucked away behind The Heart of Tea on Barlow Moor Road. It’s a proper little hidden gem this one, with thousands of second-hand books on offer – including loads of classic Penguin titles. You could spend hours in here looking through everything – and a lot of people actually do.
Didsbury Village Bookshop, Inside The Art of Tea 47, Barlow Moor Rd, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6TW
Now open on Stevenson Square, UNITOM is a “visual arts-orientated bookshop and print gallery” featuring a hand-picked selection of cultural and artistic inspiration. In other words, you’ll find an impressive choice of publications on contemporary art, design, fashion, photography and counterculture, alongside independent magazines and small press titles.
UNITOM, 1a Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN
Right in the heart of Cheadle Village, Greenhouse Books is family-run and vegan, with an impressive selection of books, magazines, comics and graphic novels, plus a cafe serving up artisanal coffee and homemade soups and cakes.
Greenhouse Books, 13a Wilmslow Rd, Cheadle SK8 1DW
The Urmston Book Shop
A lovely shop in Urmston that caters for everyone, from adult and child readers to those looking for gifts, stationery and games. They also have a great second-hand book offering, and host regular events with authors.
The Urmston Book Shop, 72 Flixton Rd, Urmston, Manchester M41 5AB
Anywhere Out of The World
Up an unassuming staircase next to Beermoth on Tib Street, Anywhere Out of The World is only open Wednesday – Sunday and stocks only second-hand titles. It’s a haven for fans of poetry and literature, and provides a nice, quiet oasis from the hubbub of Northern Quarter life outside.
Anywhere Out of the World, First Floor, 70 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LG
EJ Morten Booksellers
A Didsbury institution since 1959, EJ Morten is a fantastic little bookshop on Warburton Street, that specialises in new, second-hand and rare antiquarian books with an emphasis on history, military history, travel and literature.
EJ Morten Booksellers, 6 Warburton St, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6WA
Manchester Book Buyers
This little market stall on Church Street might not be here much longer, so if you want to have a root around their wares – you should probably do it sooner rather than later. This market bit has always been threatening to be knocked down and/or replaced – although it’s not happened yet, so hopefully it won’t do at all. The big building behind is getting knocked down soon though – so we’ll see.
Church Street Market, 1 Church Street, Manchester, M4 1PN
0161 834 5964
Usually with a couple of speakers blasting out some Manchester bangers, Empire Exchange also sell a LOT of second-hand and vintage books – and is well worth a little trip down their trinket-laden stairs once in a while. There’s a lot of United & City stuff down here, but you can find anything, from 70s Bunty Annuals to the autobiography of Bruno Brookes – there’s a lot of rubbish in here – but also a lot of proper gems.
Empire Exchange, 1 Newton St, Manchester M1 1HW
0161 236 4445
You’ll not just find board and role-playing games here in Travelling Man, but also one of the city’s biggest and best selections of graphic novels and Manga titles. If you’ve heard about a graphic novel, and you want to have a read – Travelling Man will definitely have it in stock. Most of these things have either already been made into a film or telly series, or are about to – so get involved in the originals. My favourite? From Hell by Alan Moore – an enthralling retelling of the Jack the Ripper story.
Travelling Man, 4 Dale St, Manchester M1 1JW
Exactly what it says on the tin: this shop sells magazines that, happen to be, rare. The couple behind Rare Mags (again, lovely and great for a chat – something Stopfordians are natural experts in) have a strong presence in the community and support independent and local artists. Their Instagram is a great one to watch if you want a general ear to the ground about Stockport’s going-ons.
Rare Mags, 5 Lower Hillgate, Stockport SK1 1AQ
An award-winning bookshop and cafe in the centre of Bramhall, owners Andrew & Sue have always had a dream of running a bookshop, and have finally made it a reality. Simply Books isn’t just a bookshop, it’s also a community hub, and they host regular events in here too including book clubs and signings, plus the pair run the Simply Cinema screenings in the village too.
Simply Books, 228 Moss Ln, Bramhall, Stockport SK7 1BD