Audio books and downloaded novels might be a convenient way of catching up with the latest bestseller. But nothing beats the feel of an actual book in your hands, and there’s a real charm to buying from an independent bookshop.
Fortunately, there are still a few places in and around Manchester where you can wallow in your own literary heaven.
This family-owned bookshop has been trading in Chorlton for almost four decades, but nearly closed a few years ago when a bar was proposed next door. Luckily, the local community rallied around and the grass roots campaign saw the plans eventually dropped.
Five years on and the Wilbraham Road shop remains ever popular. Its classic signage outside beckons customers in, where bookworms will find a snug shop where the shelves are stacked high with fiction, non-fiction, children’s books and the great classics, alongside notebooks, postcards and notelets.
There’s a free next-day ordering system for books in stock with suppliers, and even a free gift-wrapping service, too. And keep an eye out for the shop’s two dogs who are known to keep an eye on things from the back stairs.
506-508 Wilbraham Road, M21 9AW
Located on an industrial estate in Sharston, this isn’t the sort of place you just happen to be passing by. But Sharston Books, which has been going for over 20 years, is worth the effort.
It might not seem much from the outside, where there are a few shipping containers filled with books, but go through the small door and you’ll enter a Tardis-like space where every corner is filled with books, around a million according to the shop’s website, covering a mind-boggling multitude of genres and topics.
If, somehow, you don’t find what you’re looking for there are a further 40,000 titles online and you can also give the shop a call and the team will do the hunting for you.
Unit 15, Wearlee, Sharston, M22 4WT
Didsbury Village Bookshop
Tucked away at the back of bustling and cosy The Art of Tea café is a small doorway that leads you down a few steps and into the Didsbury Village bookshop.
Open seven days a week, here you’ll find thousands of books stacked high with a focus on classic literature, art and philosophy.
It’s easy way to while away the time among the tomes with the sound of chatter drifting through from next door, as well as the incredible aromas, and then settle into a café seat and have a flick through your purchase over a cup of loose leaf tea.
47 Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury, M20 6TW
Vinyl Fiction opened almost 18 months ago and, as the name suggests, is a combination of music and literature. Run by Sarah Pregnall, it’s a small but relaxed space where people can wonder in, have a chat and discover new names.
Rather than specialise in any specific genre, they’ve taken a broad brush, although both the music and books have been carefully curated. There are graphic novels, music books and titles from local independent publishers, such as the Didsbury-based Confingo Publishing, as well as the classics and bestsellers.
And on the music-side, you’ll find Nina Simone and David Bowie alongside new bands and vinyl presses. There’s also a spoken word night once a month, with details on social media.
103 Manchester Road, M21 9GA
EJ Morten Booksellers
Just off the main road running through Didsbury Village, there’s a cobbled street that looks like something out of a Richard Curtis movie. It’s here you’ll find the family-run bookshop, EJ Morten Booksellers, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
The shop houses an impressive selection of new fiction and non-fiction across a wide range of genres. There are also signed books available throughout the year, a special children’s area and a bargain book table.
In addition, there’s a selection of antiquarian, second-hand and rare books which can be viewed by appointment.
6 Warburton Street, Didsbury, M20 6WA
A family business since the 1960s, this second-hand bookstore and comic shop on Shudehill is a Manchester institution, especially the music that’s often played from the shop’s speakers out onto the pavement.
It’s only open from Friday through to Sunday, but everyone’s welcome to pop along and have a browse where you’ll everything from vintage comics and poetry to beautiful editions of classic literature and biographies. It’s as higgledy-piggledy as you’d hope a quirky bookstore to be with floor to ceiling shelves brimming with an eclectic mix of books covering a wide range of topics.
And if you’re looking for some tech-free time, then this is the place to be, as there’s a sign on the door requesting customers turn off their mobile phones before coming in.
25-27 Shudehill, M4 2AF