With the closure of the infamous ‘Rare and Racy’ of Devonshire Street in 2017, Sheffield students and locals have been forced to search elsewhere for out-of-print material and second-hand bargains. At the same time, this closure served to highlight the threat to Independent Sheffield. With city planning evolving every year, this threat becomes ever more real. Below is a specially selected array of independent books shops across Sheffield’s city centre and outer districts – be sure to check them out, support local businesses, and find some diamonds in the rough.
- La Biblioteka
La Biblioteka promotes the printed press; just one small step for man (that is Alex Maxwell) is one giant step for mankind (that is the survival of the printed word). Previously situated opposite the Peace Gardens, this book shop come risograph printing service has recently moved to a new spot at Castle Square – Kommune.
Kommune has transformed the historic Sheffield landmark of Castle House, decking it out with a variety of independent Sheffield traders as well as a food hall. The perfect location for La Biblioteka. Enjoy a flick through the obscure and, unarguably, fascinating array of contemporary books and magazines, followed by a bite to eat, maybe?
Stylish and swish, this book shop is definitely worth a visit.
- Kelham Island Books and Music
Located in Sheffield’s independent centre of Kelham Island, Kelham Island Books and Music provides a haven similar to that of Rare and Racy in that it wonderfully combines books, music, and art.
The shop is brimming full of high quality second hand fiction and non-fiction, vinyl’s and CDs, alongside Sheffield-related guides. History, literatures, poetry, the classics, it has it all. The collection is pristine, containing first folios and hardbacks.
- The Rude Shipyard
A short walk up Abbeydale Road, The Rude Shipyard is really something special. It takes its name from David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and boasts a celebration of a morning or afternoon with a coffee and a book.
The interior is eclectic in its combination of book shop and café – tea cups and brunch decorate the tables whilst every nook and cranny holds their own secrets in the form of artwork and instruments. In the evenings, Sheffield’s talented arrangement of musicians and poets often showcase their work.
Books wise, there’s something for everyone. A mixture of second-hand classics, philosophy and art books, as well as zines.
- Porter Book Shop
Further out in Sharrow Vale, Porter Book Shop is located near the Last Chapter and Rhyme and Reason, two more of Sheffield’s unmissable independent book shops – so make a day of it and have a book shop crawl!
Porter Book Shop requires a good browser and a fine-tooth comb as books are stacked high, low and, ultimately, precariously throughout the store. All the second-hand books are reasonably priced at £2-5, and, if you’re lucky, you might find a leather-bound classic for approximately £20.
Admittedly, neither Blackwell’s nor Oxfam are ‘independent,’ however, I couldn’t talk about book shops and not mention these, especially when they’re so close (or even a part of) the University campus.
First off, Blackwell’s is perfect for picking up your books for modules as they communicate with the departments of the University and often offer bundles. However, they also buy-back books and therefore offer an abundance of second-hand treasures.
Finally, Oxfam, either on Glossop Road or Fulwood Road in Broomhill, are always packed full of an array of classic titles, always in good condition. This is an easy and rewarding way to support a great cause too.