Best Bookshops in Cambridge

Your tell-all guide to the best bookish hideaways of the town

If you’re at Cambridge, chances are you’re partial to a bit of reading. Unless of course, you’re not. (I see you STEM students…) So gather yourselves, you literary fiends, as we delve into the finest bookshop tender our lovely city of Cambridge has to offer.


Books, books, everywhere! (Image credits: Melody Lewis)

It’s sleek, it’s classic. You know it’ll never let you down. Waterstones is by far one of the most popular bookshop haunts for both students and tourists alike. Its range of books is vast, from poetry to non-fiction and from recipe books to award-winning bestsellers, Waterstones has it all. Laid out across three floors, the Waterstones in Cambridge has a lot to offer, and the friendly staff and cosy atmosphere make it the perfect place to spend an hour (or three) browsing to your heart’s content.

Yay: The cafes. Plural. For those humanities students who don’t want to make the trek to Sidge, at least you can show off your OOTD here.

Nay: You know what you’re getting, there’s no pizzazz.

Best booktacular bookshop rating: 4/5


It’s a labyrinth! (Image credits: Melody Lewis)

What do this bookshop and a young cow have in common? That’s right! They’re both called heifers (well, not quite, but you know, puns). Despite its bovine namesake, this treasure of a bookshop could not be further from the farmyard. On entering, nothing seems too out of the ordinary, but as you voyage deeper into the underbelly of this glorious beast, your innermost bookworm will delight in all that Heffers has to offer. From science, to fiction, to endless shelves of poetry, Heffers has it all. With a friendly atmosphere and even friendlier staff, Heffers is not a bookshop to be missed.

Yay: The games section! With the introduction of the new board game cafe, table-top gaming aficionados have a new hideaway, but that doesn’t stop Heffers from holding a special place in our hearts.

Nay: I got lost in here. Not metaphorically. Literally and physically lost. (And there’s no cafe)

Best booktacular bookshop rating: 3.5/5

Cambridge University Press

Read, write, learn! (Image credits: Melody Lewis)

I think the Cambridge University Press Bookshop gets a bad rep. Sure, it’s mostly filled with textbook delights such as the riveting ‘English Grammar in Use’ and ‘Calculus for the Ambitious’, but the Cambridge University Press Bookshop does in fact stock some fascinating reads. You are sure to find something intriguing whether your interests lie in quantum physics or the history of the modern world. So why not pop in between lectures, and you may just find something wonderful…

Yay: Very central location and a wide range of non-fiction books.

Nay: Too many maths books. (equations ≠ cafe)

Best booktacular bookshop rating: 2/5

G. David Bookseller

Idyllic summer book shopping (Image credits: Katy Lawrence)

G. David is one of the outstanding independent bookshop gems that Cambridge has to offer. Selling a range of books from new to second-hand and antique, there is nothing that this bookshop can’t provide. The maze of shelves, stacks of books, and glass cabinets displaying first editions and rare copies are a bookworm’s dream, and it would be easy to spend a whole day browsing all this charming little shop has to offer. And do not be dismayed, while the ‘antiquarian books’ sign outside the door might leave you wondering if you’ll have to sign over half your student loan and your firstborn child to even afford a page of one of these books, most of the stock is actually incredibly reasonably priced, and sometimes even cheaper than the big booksellers.

Yay: Books for sale from the personal collection of Stephen Hawking! Yes, you heard that right (although there are only a few left now…)

Nay: If you’re looking for your next booktok obsession, you probably won’t find it here. Stocking mostly well-loved classics, historical tomes, and antiquarian books, G. David is not the bookshop to go to for new releases. (alas, not a cafe in sight)

Best booktacular bookshop rating: 5/5


Lovely window display (Image credits: Melody Lewis)

Ah, Oxfam, a classic for those of us who love a bargain. While this particular Oxfam bookshop is slightly pricier than you might expect (an eye-watering £2.99 a book rather than the blissful 50p I’m used to back home. Cambridge inflation, what can I say?), the Oxfam bookshop in Cambridge is great if you want something cheap, mindless, and easy to read. If you’re looking for thrillers or a cheesy rom-com, the Oxfam bookshop will be able to get you your fix.

Yay: Very central location, friendly staff

Nay: A bit small. (and no cafe)

Best booktacular bookshop rating: 3/5

Books for Amnesty

For those slightly more intrepid bookshop seekers, Books for Amnesty on Mill Road is the place to be. A 10-minute walk from the centre of town, this bookshop feels a world away from the lively and sometimes crowded bookshops of the city centre. This bookshop is the best of both worlds. There is a sense of the sleek and curated feel of a commercial bookshop, yet the prices are incredibly reasonable and the books are all in good condition.

Yay: The RANGE. Books for Amnesty has extensive sections on feminism, politics, human rights, and science, a fantastic selection of books for such a small shop.

Nay: There is nothing wrong with this bookshop, it is perfect in every way. (there is even a cafe on either side!!)

Best booktacular bookshop rating: 5/5

Sarah Key Books: The Haunted Bookshop

Spooky… (Image credits: Katy Lawrence)

For those of the spooky disposition, this may be just the bookshop for you. Tucked away next to the Corpus Playroom just off King’s Parade, Sarah Key Books (also known as The Haunted Bookshop) specialises in rare, illustrated, and children’s books. This bookshop will take you back to your childhood, with hundreds of titles from authors such as Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and Beatrix Potter. Although not your run of the mill bookshop, Sarah Key Books is a fabulous little hideaway for those with a child-like imagination.

Yay: The sheer variety of books on offer. And also the ghosts, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Nay: The prices. As to be expected from an independent seller of rare and collectable books, the prices here are very high. Window shopping is fine, but don’t set your heart on a beautiful copy of a Ladybird classic without first checking the price. (Also no cafe)

Best booktacular bookshop rating: 4/5

Plurabelle Books

I couldn’t be bothered to walk here (Hence no picture).

Yay: Apparently it’s nice.

Nay: It’s way too far for a central college dweller like me – 30 minutes from the centre of town. There is probably a bus, but I didn’t figure it out. (I don’t know if this one has a cafe)

Best booktacular bookshop rating: ?

Honourable Mention:

The bookstalls at the market! If you’re in the mood for a splash of al fresco book-shopping, look no further than the market bookstalls. Offering a wide range of second-hand books at incredibly reasonable prices, browsing the market bookstalls is the perfect way to spend a warm summer’s afternoon, perhaps even picking up a Crushbridge or two along the way…

So there you have it…

A round-up of this city’s best and most-loved bookshops. Whether you want to go browsing yourself or need ideas for your next hot date, you now have all the info you require to plan the most wonderful day out.

Featured Image Credits: Melody Lewis

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