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Best Independent Bookshops in Durham

Welcome to our guide on the best independent bookshops in Durham. Whether you’re a local bibliophile or a visitor eager to explore Durham’s literary scene, we’ve got you covered. Dive in to discover charming bookstores in Durham brimming with unique finds, cosy reading nooks, and delightful events.

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Independent Bookstores in Durham

  1. The People’s Bookshop
  2. Bookwyrm
  3. Collected Books

Our List of Independent Bookshops in Durham

1. The People’s Bookshop

The People's Bookshop

The People’s Bookshop in Durham is a hidden gem situated in the historic Saddler’s Yard, just off Saddler Street. This location places it right in the heart of Durham, making it easily accessible to both locals and visitors. The shop’s position within Saddler’s Yard adds to its charm, offering a quiet retreat away from the bustling main streets. Despite its central location, the bookshop maintains a cosy, intimate atmosphere that invites visitors to spend time browsing through its unique collection of books.

The surrounding area of Saddler’s Yard is steeped in history, with its narrow alleyways and historic architecture creating a quaint and inviting environment. The People’s Bookshop benefits from this picturesque setting, attracting book lovers and curious passersby alike. Adjacent to the popular Vennels Café, visitors can easily make a day of exploring the bookshop and enjoying a coffee or tea nearby. This prime location not only enhances the shop’s appeal but also makes it a convenient stop for anyone exploring Durham’s rich cultural heritage. It is a popular stop for people looking to peruse and buy books and one of the best bookshops in Durham

Activities and Features

Curated Selection: A unique mix of books, primarily on politics, history, and local interest topics.

Community Events: Hosts book readings, music events, and grassroots political discussions.

Volunteer-Run: Operated by a collective of volunteers from both the student and local communities.

Social Hub: Offers a space for students, locals, and visitors to interact and engage.

Proximity to Amenities: Close to Vennels Café, perfect for a coffee and snack before or after your visit.

Practical Information

  • Opening Times: Wednesday to Friday from 12 PM to 3 PM, Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM; closed Sunday to Tuesday​
  • Cost of Entry: Free.
  • Location: Saddler’s Yard, 70 Saddler St, Durham DH1 3NP​.
  • Parking Options: Nearest parking available at Prince Bishops Shopping Centre, a short walk away​.
  • Contact Information: For more info and bookings, please visit: The People’s Bookshop

2. Bookwyrm

Bookwyrm

Bookwyrm is a charming independent bookshop in Durham nestled within the bustling Indoor Market Hall. This prime location places it right in the heart of the city, making it easily accessible for both locals and visitors. The market hall itself is a vibrant space filled with various stalls and vendors, creating a lively and dynamic environment. Bookwyrm fits perfectly into this setting, offering a unique literary oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the market. The shop is run by Chris and Miles, who bring their passion for books and inclusivity to every aspect of the store, making this one of the friendliest Durham bookshops.

The Indoor Market Hall is a historic and iconic part of Durham, providing a perfect backdrop for Bookwyrm’s eclectic collection of LGBTQ+ literature and small press titles some of which can be hard-to-find in other Durham bookstores. The market’s central location means that it is within walking distance of many of Durham’s other attractions, making it an ideal stop for anyone exploring the city. The shop’s welcoming atmosphere and diverse range of genres, from fiction to fantasy, make it a must-visit for book lovers of all kinds. Whether you’re searching for a specific title or just browsing, Bookwyrm’s convenient and vibrant location enhances the overall experience.

Activities and Features

Curated Selection: Focus on LGBTQ+ books and independent press titles.

Community Events: Hosts writing workshops, author signings, and book readings.

Owner’s Creations: Features books and zines by co-owner Miles Nelson, plus figurines of characters from his works.

Inclusive Atmosphere: Welcoming space promoting inclusivity and community.

Online Shop: Offers an online store for those who can’t visit in person.

Practical Information

  • Opening Times: Open during market hours; check online for specifics.
  • Cost of Entry: Free.
  • Location: Unit 12, Durham Market Hall, Durham DH1 3NJ.
  • Parking Options: Nearest parking at Prince Bishops Shopping Centre.
  • Contact Information: For more info and bookings, please visit: Bookwyrm

3. Collected Books

Collected Books

Collected Books is a delightful independent bookshop located at Durham’s Riverwalk, a bustling and scenic shopping area along the River Wear. This prime location makes it a convenient stop for both locals and visitors looking to buy books in Durham City. The Riverwalk itself is a vibrant destination filled with various shops, eateries, and entertainment options, offering a perfect blend of shopping and leisure. Positioned just off Framwellgate Bridge, Collected Books enjoys a central location that is easily accessible by foot from many of Durham’s main attractions, including the historic Durham Cathedral and Castle​​.

The shop’s location within the Riverwalk not only provides a picturesque setting but also adds to its appeal as a community hub. With its focus on literature written by women, Collected Books stands out in this lively commercial area, attracting book lovers who appreciate its unique selection and cosy atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee and a slice of cake while browsing the curated collection of books, making it a perfect spot to relax and unwind. The Riverwalk’s blend of historic charm and modern amenities enhances the overall experience, making a visit to Collected Books a must for anyone spending time in Durham. It is one of the few independent bookshops with a cafe in Durham at present.

Activities and Features

Specialised Selection: Focuses on books by female authors across various genres including fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books.

Community Events: Regularly hosts book clubs, author signings, and “Books & Beats” evenings with live DJs.

Coffee and Cake: Offers a cosy café experience with a selection of drinks and cakes​.

Curated Bundles: Provides themed book bundles for diverse interests​.

Mobile Bookshop History: Started as a book van, which still makes appearances at local events​.

Practical Information

  • Opening Times: Monday to Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM, and Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM. Extended hours until 8 PM on Thursdays and Fridays​.
  • Cost of Entry: Free.
  • Location: Unit 44, Durham’s Riverwalk, accessible via Framwellgate Bridge or Riverwalk Vennel​​.
  • Parking Options: Nearby parking available at Prince Bishops Shopping Centre​​.
  • Contact Information: For more info and bookings, please visit: Collected Books

Bookshops in Durham – FAQ

Where can I find the best independent bookshops in Durham?

You can find the best independent bookshops in Durham at various locations including Saddler’s Yard for The People’s Bookshop, Durham Market Hall for Bookwyrm, and Durham’s Riverwalk for Collected Books.

What types of books do bookstores in Durham typically offer? 

Durham’s independent bookshops offer a diverse selection of books including fiction, non-fiction, local interest, LGBTQ+ literature, and books by female authors. They also feature second-hand books and special collections.

Are there any bookshops in Durham that specialise in rare or antique books? 

While The People’s Bookshop and Bookwyrm focus more on unique and eclectic selections, neither specifically specialises in rare or antique books. However, their collections often include hard-to-find titles and unique editions​.

Do the independent bookstores in Durham host any events or author signings? 

Yes, all three major independent bookshops in Durham host various events. These include author signings, book readings, writing workshops, and themed events like “Books & Beats” at Collected Books.

Are there any bookshops in Durham with on-site cafes or reading areas?

Collected Books offers an on-site café where you can enjoy coffee and cakes while reading. The People’s Bookshop and Bookwyrm are more focused on their book offerings and community events​​.

What are the opening hours for the independent bookshops in Durham?

The People’s Bookshop is open Wednesday to Friday, 12 PM – 3 PM, Saturday, 10 AM – 3 PM​. Bookwyrm is open during Durham Market Hall hours; typically 9 AM – 5 PM​​. Collected Books has longer opening times, Monday to Saturday, 8 AM – 6 PM, Sunday, 10 AM – 4 PM. It also boasts extended opening hours until 8 PM on Thursdays and Fridays​​.