A guide to bookshops in south-east London

South-East London is a reader’s heaven as it has more than its fair share of local independent bookshops where hidden treasures can be found and the shelves hold countless stories to lose yourself in.

The pandemic has seen many bookshops come under intense pressure, so there is no better time to support independent bookshops than the present. Supporting a local bookshop supports the local economy and they act as a place to meet, talk, and discuss books with authors, friends, and new acquaintances.

Below is a guide to bookshops, some of which are popular and some are hidden gems in South-East London which are waiting to be explored.

Dulwich Books

Dulwich Books is a multiple award-winning bookshop, most recently shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2017 Independent Bookshop of the Year. It has been around for thirty years. It also allows you to order books in person or over the phone or email for next-day delivery provided it is in stock and ordered by 5pm. As well as championing local authors, Dulwich Books also host several literary events like meet and greet with authors and book festivals.

The Bookshop on the Heath

Founded in 1949 when Jameson Benbrook opened an antiquarian bookshop, it stocks a wide range of books, from everyday reading copies to collectable modern first editions, fine bindings, and antiquarian books. The shop also takes pride in its location, stocking postcards and greetings cards of old Blackheath & Greenwich, as well as some original art by local artist Tony Lord. You will also find original and high-quality reproduction maps and prints, plus a selection of original film posters.

Moon Lane Ink

Moon Lane Ink, which is the sister shop of the award-winning Tales on Moon Lane Children’s Bookshop, is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company on a mission to raise equality in children’s books. Its aim is to stock books “reflecting London’s diverse population in terms of gender, ethnicity, class, disability, socio-economic status, sexual-orientation and culture”.

Leaf and Groove

Leaf and Groove sells second hand, donated books to create an income for Forest Hill Library. In addition to books this Forest Hill bookshop also sells records, as you might have guessed from the name.

Review

Founded by local award-winning author Evie Wyld, this bookshop is a wonderful place to browse. It has been around since 2005, and runs events and conversations with authors. Review is also the driving force behind Peckham Literary Festival.

Kirkdale Bookshop

This bookshop has been part of the community since 1966, and offers a conservatory space for readers to relax and read their new books. It offers an extensive collection of new and second-hand books for all age groups and interests.

Village Books

This award-winning independent bookshop can be found in the heart of Dulwich Village. It stocks thousands of titles, for adults and children alike. It has also hosted talks with top authors like Philip Pullman, recipe guru Yotam Ottolenghi, travel writing icon Michael Palin, and novelist Graham Norton.

Bookseller Crow

This bookshop which has been around since 1997 is located on the Crystal Palace Triangle. Owned and run by Jonathan Main and Justine Crow, the bookshop offers a variety of genres including modern fiction, American lit and crime, as well as children’s section, cookery titles, graphic novels local history titles.

Crofton Books

Crofton Books located in Brockley offers a variety of new, vintage and books. The bookshop is owned by South London writer, Jason Shelley, and is also a “virtual bookshop” where people can buy from all over the world.

Halcyon Books (Greenwich & Lee)

This family-run second-hand bookshop began as a stall in Greenwich market but has now expanded to two sites – one in Greenwich, and one in Lewisham. The new Lewisham location specialises in second-hand art, design and architecture books, and stocks everything from modern fiction to classics. It also has a garden area and serves a vast collection of coffees and other beverages so customers can sit and enjoy a drink while they browse or read in the garden.

Clapham Books

The two sister bookshops offer a wide range of books, from science fiction to politics to biography, pop culture and more.

Herne Hill Books

The two sister bookshops offer a wide range of books, from science fiction to politics to biography, pop culture and more.

Rye Books

Rye Books opened in 2011, has an immense variety of genres and hosts regular events including book signings and Q&As with authors, and serves coffees with a brownie.

The Book and Record Bar

As the name suggests, the Book and Record bar sell a wide range of books and records both new and second-hand. In addition to this they also have a social hub featuring live radio broadcasts and music events.

The Word Bookshop

The Word Bookshop is a cosy, buzzing independent bookshop located in New Cross. You can find all sorts of genres here ranging from fiction for adults, children’s books for toddlers to teens and a broad selection for poetry and graphic novels as well.

Dulwich Books

Dulwich books is a multiple award-winning bookshop, most recently shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2017 Independent Bookshop of the Year. It has been around for thirty years. It also allows you to order books in person or over the phone or email for next-day delivery provided it is in stock and ordered by 5pm. As well as championing local authors, Dulwich Books also host several literary events like meet and greet with authors and book festivals.

Location

6 Croxted Road, Dulwich, SE21 8SW

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday: 9:30am-5:30pm
Sunday: 11am-4pm

The Bookshop on the Heath

Founded in 1949 when Jameson Benbrook opened an antiquarian bookshop, it stocks a wide range of books, from everyday reading copies to collectable modern first editions, fine bindings, and antiquarian books. The shop also takes pride in its location, stocking postcards and greetings cards of old Blackheath & Greenwich, as well as some original art by local artist Tony Lord. You will also find original and high-quality reproduction maps and prints, plus a selection of original film posters.

Location

74 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath, SE3 0BW

Opening hours

Monday to Tuesday: 11am-5:30pm
Wednesday: closed
Thursday to Friday: 11am-5:30pm
Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 11am-5pm

Moon Lane Ink

Moon Lane Ink, which is the sister shop of the award-winning Tales on Moon Lane Children’s Bookshop, is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company on a mission to raise equality in children’s books. Its aim is to stock books “reflecting London’s diverse population in terms of gender, ethnicity, class, disability, socio-economic status, sexual-orientation and culture”.

Location

300 Stanstead Road, SE23 1DE

Opening hours

Monday: closed
Tuesday to Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 11am-4pm

Leaf and Groove

Leaf and Groove sells second hand, donated books to create an income for Forest Hill Library. In addition to books this Forest Hill bookshop also sells records, as you might have guessed from the name.

Location

57 Dartmouth Road, SE23 3HN

Opening hours

Monday: closed
Tuesday to Friday: 6pm-10pm
Saturday: 12pm-10pm
Sunday: 12pm-9pm

Review

Founded by local award-winning author Evie Wyld, this bookshop is a wonderful place to browse. It has been around since 2005, and runs events and conversations with authors. Review is also the driving force behind Peckham Literary Festival.

Location

131 Bellenden Rd, Peckham, SE15 4QY

Opening hours

Monday to Tuesday: closed
Wednesday: 10am-5pm
Thursday: 12pm-5pm
Friday to Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 11am-4pm

Kirkdale Bookshop

Kirkdale Bookshop located on 272 Kirkdale, Sydenham, is one of the oldest bookshops in South-East London and has been around for over two decades now. It is a charming community-oriented bookshop that has gradually expanded to two floors over the years and now has an extensive range of new and second-hand books, an engaging children’s section, cards and gifts, and an art gallery- the latter made possible owning to the bookshop’s connections with local artists. This local bookshop is “a combination of award-winning bookshop and cultural hub” – having been awarded best bookshop in the area by Time Out London. If you are unable to find a book you are looking for the staff will order it for you online and can have most books within 24 hours. It also hosts several cultural events including book signings and readings by authors, exhibitions, and children’s events.

Location

272 Kirkdale, Sydenham, SE26 4RS 

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday: 9:30am-5pm
Sunday: closed

Village Books

This award-winning independent bookshop can be found in the heart of Dulwich Village. It stocks thousands of titles, for adults and children alike. It has also hosted talks with top authors like Philip Pullman, recipe guru Yotam Ottolenghi, travel writing icon Michael Palin, and novelist Graham Norton.

Location

1D Calton Avenue, Dulwich SE21 7DE

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday: 9am-5:30pm
Sunday: 11am-5pm

Bookseller Crow

This bookshop which has been around since 1997 is located on the Crystal Palace Triangle. Owned and run by Jonathan Main and Justine Crow, the bookshop offers a variety of genres including modern fiction, American lit and crime, as well as children’s section, cookery titles, graphic novels local history titles.

Location

50 Westow Street, Crystal Palace, SE19 3AF

Opening hours

Monday: 12pm-5pm
Tuesday to Friday: 11am-5pm
Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 12pm-5pm

Crofton Books

Crofton Books located in Brockley offers a variety of new, vintage and books. The bookshop is owned by South London writer, Jason Shelley, and is also a “virtual bookshop” where people can buy from all over the world.

Location

315 Brockley Rd, SE4 2QZ

Opening hours

Monday: 9am-5p
Tuesday: 9am-7pm
Wednesday: 9am-5pm
Thursday: 9am-7pm
Friday: 9am-6pm
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 11am-5pm

Halcyon Books (Greenwich & Lee)

This family-run second-hand bookshop began as a stall in Greenwich market but has now expanded to two sites – one in Greenwich, and one in Lewisham. The new Lewisham location specialises in second-hand art, design and architecture books, and stocks everything from modern fiction to classics. It also has a garden area and serves a vast collection of coffees and other beverages so customers can sit and enjoy a drink while they browse or read in the garden.

Location

266 Lee High Rd, SE13 5PL

Website

https://www.halcyonbooks.co.uk

Opening hours

Monday to Friday: 9am-5pm
Saturday to Sunday: closed

Clapham Books and Herne Hill Books

The two sister bookshops offer a wide range of books, from science fiction to politics to biography, pop culture and more.

Location

26 The Pavement, Clapham Common, SW4 0JA
289 Railton Rd, Herne Hill, SE24 0LY

Website

https://www.claphambooks.com

Opening hours

Monday: closed
Tuesday to Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 10am-4pm

Rye Books

Rye Books opened in 2011, has an immense variety of genres and hosts regular events including book signings and Q&As with authors, and serves coffees with a brownie.

Location

47 North Cross Road, East Dulwich, SE22 9ET

Website

https://ryebooks.co.uk

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 10am-4pm

The Book and Record Bar

As the name suggests, the Book and Record bar sell a wide range of books and records both new and second-hand. In addition to this they also have a social hub featuring live radio broadcasts and music events.

Location

20 Norwood High Street, SE27 9NR

Website

http://www.bookandrecordbar.co.uk

Opening hours

Monday: closed
Tuesday to Saturday: 10:30am-6pm
Sunday: closed

The Word Bookshop

The Word Bookshop is a cosy, buzzing independent bookshop located in New Cross. You can find all sorts of genres here ranging from fiction for adults, children’s books for toddlers to teens and a broad selection for poetry and graphic novels as well.

Location

314 New Cross Road, SE14 6AF

Website

https://www.wordbookshop.co.uk

Opening hours

Monday to Friday: 10am-6pm
Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 12pm-5pm