Book articles

Top 5 second-hand book shops in Sheffield

If, like me, you have the affliction of buying books faster than you can read them (the Japanese term ‘tsundoku’ sums this up beautifully) you tend not to be able to resist a good bookshop. Personally, I see a sign with the word ‘book’ in it, or even just books in the window, and it’s all downhill from there.

I find it very hard (impossible unless I’m in a rush) to walk past Waterstones and not go in, but I rarely buy anything from there because the books are so expensive. You could argue that they’re not bank-breakingly expensive in perspective, but as someone who’s only recently left the university sphere (and is still desperately clinging to the periphery) I prioritise money for bills and rent rather than £9 books.

Happily, however, there are alternatives in the form of independent/second-hand bookshops. These havens sell books for half the price of larger retailers (sometimes even less), allowing you to purchase until you get that book-buying glow, without feeling like you’ve burned through your entire month’s rent.

Sheffield is lucky enough to have a number of these beauties floating about, and I’ve rounded up the top 5 for your perusing pleasure.

5. The Porter Bookshop

porter-bookshop.jpg

(Image courtesy of http://shopfrontsofsheffield.com)

Tucked away on Sharrow Vale Road, the Porter Bookshop is a small bookstore packed with almost every genre of book. You can easily find yourself spending longer in here than you bargained for, as the books are so densely tessellated that it can take a while to find the one you want.

4. Oxfam, West Street

Oxfam WS

I know, I know – before you wave the rulebook at me – Oxfam arguably isn’t a ‘true’ independent bookshop; it’s an international charity, with enough stores nationwide to promote it to ‘chain’ status. But the West Street Oxfam is the only one in the city devoted almost solely to books (I say almost because they offer Fairtrade items and CDs too) and offers a good variety of genres and incredibly reasonably prices. On World Book Day, I bought three books for £3.47 here, which I think is a bargain enough to justify it being in this list.

3. Books on the Park

Books on the park

Aside from its gloriously green exterior and excellent choice of bunting, Books on the Park is a den of immaculate second-hand books with great vinyls, cards, and first folios to boot. Having moved from smaller premises to the current, larger site, the shop now has more breathing room for both the gems it holds and book-seekers visiting.

2. The Last Chapter

The last chapter.jpg

The Last Chapter is another great place to hunt for second-hand books if you like scouring spines until your heart is content. Although perhaps not as cheap as Oxfam or Books on the Park, it has a range of more unusual and eclectic books on offer, and boasts a great view of Endcliffe park just outside the window.

1. Rare & Racy

rare-and-racy

(Image courtesy of http://shopfrontsofsheffield.com)

If you live in Sheffield, you probably saw this coming a mile off, but my top independent bookshop in Sheffield is Rare and Racy. Covering an impressive three floors of two old terraced houses, the shop has almost every type of genre you could search for – and believe me, I’ve searched. Established in 1969, it’s been running for more than forty years and retains something of an old-fashioned air, with it’s wooden stepladders for reaching the higher shelves, and rickety stairs for reaching higher floors.

Characterised by the quirky music floating from its speakers, and row upon row of comic books, fiction books, non-fiction, artwork, CDs, vinyls, and even Ordnance Survey maps, Rare & Racy is a shop you could spend hours exploring.

Sadly, this sanctuary is under threat from Sheffield City Council, who want to demolish the shop in favour of building new student accommodation. To sign a petition to save Rare & Racy click here or for more information on the Council’s plans click here.

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