Buying Books in London
Over the past few months, I’ve started developing a new and rather decently sized collection of books. I’m nowhere close to reading them all— my shopping addiction overwhelmed my reading addiction— but it’s a worthwhile use of space and money.
Literature, unlike film and music, has no perfect digital equivalent. E-books and audio books provide a comparable and perhaps preferable alternative, but it’s never wholly the same. There is research and science on this topic but it’s irrelevant; each person has their own preferences, and you likely have yours, too.
For the people who benefit from the tactile sensation of holding a tangible book—and silently caring deeply about its aesthetic principle—this will hopefully illuminate some means of getting books which you haven’t considered yet.
Here are some options for when you want to buy a book in London.
City Lights Bookstore
This bookstore has been active since 1975, a revered fixture of downtown London, located at 356 Richmond Street.
The place is a cramped, labyrinthine forest of culture, housing vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, Blu rays, VHS tapes, memorabilia, and antiques. Of course the store focuses on books, and their intuitively organized collection is all-encompassing. Graphic novels, international classics, religious, gothic, erotica, sci-fi; whatever your niche is, the store carries a hearty collection of it for an astoundingly good price.
A big argument for collecting any physical media, including books, is the heightened notion of having a personal experience, and that could be extended to the sourcing of the book itself. City Lights Bookstore is a historic, dense, and personality-backed institution, which is furthermore proudly independent. The feeling of being in this store, surrounded by its rich collection of media is worth the bus ride alone.
Additionally, while you’re in the area consider any other neighboring indie bookstores.
London Public Library.
Yes, it is worthwhile to obtain a library card, which Western students are eligible for provided they show proof of address and personal ID,. Howeve,r I mean this more in the general sense of being aware of the library, as well as the adjacent Friends of the Public Library.
The Friends of the Public Library is an organization dedicated to providing community support for the public library by running a dedicated bookstore and hosting several events. For example, at the start of this month they held a fall book sale, giving all proceeds back to the library. Ultimately, being aware of their presence and the events they organize can help you expand your own book collection and get you good deals. It also allows you to contribute to the community outside of campus.
This blog post has been kept tight and brief, not going over options you may already be using to source books, such as online sites like Book Depository, and ThriftBooks, or retail stores such as The Book Store At Western or Chapters. ButI mainly wanted to focus on independent and smaller scale businesses and organizations specific to London.
With there being a greater push to stamp out the divorce between Western and the London community, it benefits everyone to start supporting local organizations, to bridge, explore, and establish yourself outside of campus.