With the rise of online shopping threatening the existence of many independent and even chain stores across the UK, there is no better time to appreciate the joy of buying things from a passionate tradesperson.
WOW Cardiff’s Amy Pay has made a note of nine bookshops in the area that offer all kinds of reading material to customers in person.
Take a trip to these literary treasure troves and fall in love with the smell of rows and rows of books available for you to peruse in real life, no pixels involved.
The Wellfield Bookshop
Established in 1982, this is the only independent bookshop in the Roath area to stock a wide variety of brand new books. They hold lots of events – from special nights where you can hear authors talk about their work to book launches and readings. The staff are more than willing to help you find what you want – if it’s not in stock, they’ll try to order it in for you so you don’t lose the charm of shopping locally.
16 Wellfield Road CF24 3PB, twitter.com/wellfieldbooks1
Blackwell’s Bookshop Cardiff
A landmark for students at Cardiff University, Blackwell’s is tucked away underneath the Students Union. Accessible via the back entrance to the union (about 25 metres from Sherman Theatre), it stocks textbooks and recommended reading material for courses across the university as well as bestselling fiction for downtime. The staff know their stuff, so if in doubt, just ask.
Cardiff University Students Union, Senghennydd Road CF24 4AZ, bookshop.blackwell.co.uk
More than just a mish-mash charity shop, this Oxfam store is dedicated to selling a wide selection of second hand books, CDs, vinyl and DVDs. The books range from the simplest of children;s books to obscure foreign literature depending on what has been donated recently. It’s great for a rummage, and you can stock up on fair-trade chocolate while you are there.
36 St Mary Street CF10 1AB, facebook.com/OxfamBookshopCardiff
Slightly out of the centre of town lies Caban, a small shop that seems to stock nearly every book available in the welsh language. You can find children favourites (such as the Welsh version of ‘Guess How Much I Love You?’) stacked beside books for adult learners who are new to the language. There is also a lot of translated adult fiction and some English language books about Wales.
169 King’s Road, Pontcanna CF11 9DE
An Aladdin’s cave lined with beautiful floor to ceiling bookshelves, Troutmark Books is a must-stop spot for book lovers wanting to find something special. Unlike a lot of second hand book shops, this one takes the time to section its wares into categories and sort the titles into alphabetical order. The foreign literature, sci-fi and antique book collections are particularly strong.
39-43 Castle Arcade CF10 1BW, troutmarkbooks.com
National Museum Cardiff
Inside Cardiff’s Museum, this gift shop boasts lots of books about art, culture and Wales. Many of the books are related to the museum’s huge collection of artefacts, though it is the sort of shop where every now and again you’ll find a book about an artist, movement or point in history that you’ve always wanted to know more about. They sell lots of kitsch stationery and fun toys for kids, too.
National Museum Cardiff, Cathays Park CF10 3NP, museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff
Photo: Matt Ayres, Creative Hacks
In the far downstairs corner of Cardiff’s Castle Emporium, Minotaur Books is a small stall that sells a random array of fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. From Ginsberg to Heaney via Dostoyevsky and Lewis Carroll, there is an ever-changing choice of bargain second hand books to be discovered.
Womanby Street CF10 1BR, facebook.com/TheCastleEmporium
Although a chain, this Waterstone’s store makes an effort to keep things local by stocking plenty of Cardiff-based and Welsh writers’ works. They seem to have a constant stream of special signings where you can meet the authors, which is impressive. On the upstairs floor, there are lots of specialist books for nearly all interests. In the last few years they have expanded into selling cute stationery, which is never a bad thing.
2a The Hayes CF10 1WB, waterstones.com/bookshops/cardiff-the-hayes
Bear Island Book Exchange
While it may be a little chaotic in its organisation of stock, Bear Island Book Exchange in Cardiff Market is one of those places you can easily lose 15 minutes perusing shelves. Everything from comics, spy fiction, bestsellers, romance, suspense dramas and rare early publications can be found peeking out from the bookcases. It’s an experience before you’ve even turned to any of the pages.
Stalls 176-180, Cardiff Market, St Mary’s Street CF10 1AU, cardiffcouncilproperty.com/#/cardiff-market
A few more tips on things to check out in Cardiff
Main photo: Flickr: BrewBooks
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