Selection of books on a bookcase

Five bookshops to visit in Southampton

From bestselling books to rare treasures at rewarding prices, Southampton has just the right mix of specialist shops, second-hand stores and high street chains for book lovers to discover their next page turner. Here are five must-visit bookshops for avid readers, complete with cosy corners, groaning shelves and friendly staff.

1. October Books, 189 Portswood Road, SO17 2NF

The exterior of October Books

Whether you’re looking to pay less on the latest bestselling novel or diversify your bookshelf with independent literature, October Books offers a traditional range of specialised radical books and magazines alongside general popular fiction, non-fiction and children’s books.

2. Bookshop Alehouse, 21 Portswood Road, SO17 2ES

The exterior of the Bookshop Alehouse

Book lovers who also happen to enjoy a pint or two should make a beeline for Bookshop Alehouse. This cosy bookshop in a pub sells secondhand and antiquarian books alongside local ales and the finest craft beers.

Photo by Bookshop Alehouse.

3. Waterstones, Westquay, SO15 1QE

Waterstones hero 1

A literary shopping paradise, Waterstones Westquay is more than just a bookshop. Spread across two floors, Waterstones Westquay has a wide range of titles, stationery and gifts and a full events programme throughout the year. Not forgetting Southampton’s best kept secret coffee shop, boasting fabulous views of the town’s medieval walls.

4. Forbidden Planet, 24 Hanover Buildings, SO14 1JU

Frontage of Forbidden Planet

Do you want to solve a mystery or explore another dimension? Cult entertainment megastore, Forbidden Planet, is just a few steps away from the high street and has an incredible selection of sci-fi books as well as comic books and graphic novels.

5. WHSmith, 32-34 Above Bar Street, SO14 7LE

WH Smiths store front

Popular British retailer WHSmith sells thousands of books to suit every interest, passion and personality. The biggest WHSmith in Southampton can be found on the city’s high street.

Updated January 2024.

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