Scotland’s must-visit bookshops

Books everywhere at Glasgow's Voltaire and Rousseau. The cat isn't impressed. Photo: Voltaire and Rousseau
Books everywhere at Glasgow's Voltaire and Rousseau. The cat isn't impressed. Photo: Voltaire and Rousseau
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FROM Scott to Salinger and everything in between, we leaf through through the country’s best book stores housing literary treasures from Scotland and beyond

VOLTAIRE AND ROUSSEAU, GLASGOW

Toppings in St Andrews has an old-school feel with wooden ladders scattered inside. Photo: Toppings & Company

Toppings in St Andrews has an old-school feel with wooden ladders scattered inside. Photo: Toppings & Company

Stocking a wide array of fiction and educational titles, Voltaire and Rousseau is famous for being in complete disarray when it comes to shelving and organisation. The website advertises, among other things, an online shop and help from staff in finding the needle of rare titles in the haystack of the store.

The shop’s quirky cataloguing system encourages patrons to search its wares – and perhaps find some unexpected gems in tthe process. Those wishing to sell their own books can also take advantage of a collection service run by the store.

12-14 Otago Lane, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, 0141 339 1811, voltaire-rousseau.co.uk

TOPPINGS & COMPANY BOOKSELLERS, ST ANDREWS

Books & Beans trialled an outdoor cafe this summer in Aberdeen. Photo: Books & Beans

Books & Beans trialled an outdoor cafe this summer in Aberdeen. Photo: Books & Beans

The only remotely big business offering on this list is part of a triumvirate of bookshops opened by Toppings in Bath, Ely and St Andrews. The company’s only offering north of the border is packed floor-to-ceiling with approximately 45,000 books, of which many are first editions, as well as wooden ladders to access them.

Toppings is also home to the St Andrews Literary Festival, which sees authors as diverse as Richard Dawkins and Val McDermid meet and discuss literature with avid readers.

Add into the mix plenty of space and comfy seats for bibliophiles to enjoy – along with tea or coffee that is served to you on a tray in situ – and it’s easy to see why Toppings is one of St Andrews’ best-loved bookshops.

7 Greyfriars Garden, St Andrews, Fife, 01334 585111, http://www.toppingbooks.co.uk/

The Edinburgh Bookshop is enduringly popular. Photo: The Edinburgh Bookshop

The Edinburgh Bookshop is enduringly popular. Photo: The Edinburgh Bookshop

BOOKS & BEANS, ABERDEEN

Nestled away on the city’s cobbled Belmont Street and just off the main throughfare of Union Street, Books & Beans is a labyrinthine sprawl of rooms jammed with titles from chick-lit to sci-fi. Delivering the beans part of its title is the home-brewed coffee that the shop sells downstairs, along with offering soup, cake and sandwiches for hungry readers.

Students also receive a 10 per cent discount from the independent book retailer, which has just been crowned 2015 Coffee Shop/Cafe of the Year at the city’s Local Retailer Awards.

22 Belmont Street, Aberdeen, 01224 646438, booksandbeans.co.uk

Leakey's in Inverness is the biggest secondhand book store in Scotland. Photo: Leakey's Bookshop

Leakey's in Inverness is the biggest secondhand book store in Scotland. Photo: Leakey's Bookshop

THE EDINBURGH BOOKSHOP, EDINBURGH

Winner of Scottish Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2014 and again in 2015, The Edinburgh Bookshop stands at Holy Corner and has been around for eight years. Describing itself as the Radio 4 of bookshops, it also offers writers’ workshops and children’s story time on Thursday and Friday morning each week. Those who can’t make it into the store can still get the Edinburgh Bookshop experience, as they can purchase ebooks from the website.

219 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, 0131 447 1917, www.edinburghbookshop.com

LEAKEY’S BOOKSHOP, INVERNESS

With an open log fire, Leakey’s styles itself as Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop with approximately 100,000 titles on offer at any one time.

Established in 1979, the bookshop has resided in an old Gaelic Church dating from 1793 for the last 19 years of its existence. Despite the closure of the on-site cafe 18 months ago, the shop has remained popular and the online store contains a vast searchable archive of prized titles.

Church St, Inverness, 01463 239947, https://www.facebook.com/LeakeysBookshop