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Top bookshops in Cape Town
From well-known institutions to hidden gems
Last updated: Monday, 24 April 2023
Bibliophiles, we know that your to-be-read list is never-ending. If you’re wanting to add more titles to your pile, you’ve come to the right place: Here are the new, curious and quintessential bookstores in Cape Town, from Gordon’s Bay to Elgin.
READ IN A COSY BOOK NOOK
One of the most unique bookstores in Cape Town is tucked away behind the popular Peregrine Farmstall. Liberty Books has a range of new and secondhand books across all genres, which you can read while curled up in their cosy reading nook. Keep a lookout for Cleo, Liberty Books’ resident cat. There's even books housed inside a 1955 Bedford Green Goddess Fire Truck, which you'll find just outside the store.
Opening hours for Liberty Books: Monday to Sundays, 8am - 5.30pm
Opening hours for Burning Brigade: Friday to Sunday, 8.30am - 4.30pm (and daily during holidays)
Peregrine Farm Stall | N2 & R321 Elgin | 021 671 9551 | Image: Tasneem Kadwa (@thegirlwhoatetheworld)
SHOP FOR ANTIQUES
Antique-lovers and collectors, this store is for you. The Bookworm has been operating since 1970 and has second-hand books galore, as well as antique art, collectables and decor (like lithographic cloth prints from the 1920’s or Chinese vases from the 1800’s). The store is massive, and you can spend hours exploring twisty corners and hidden passages filled with books and old goods.
Opening hours: Daily, 9am - 5pm (closes 2pm on Saturday and Sunday)
1st Avenue | Fish Hoek | 079 309 8435 | Image: The Bookworm
COLLECT COMIC BOOKS
Located in the buzzing Stadium on Main centre in Claremont, this shop is home to pretty much any popular comic series – think Batman, Archie and The Adventure of Jerry Lewis – and action figures, games, posters, prints, and other interesting collectable items. Not to mention, avid comic book fans can even stumble across titles dating back to the 60s. They are also a fully functional online store, which means you don’t have to head to the Southern Suburbs for your comic book fix.
Opening times: Monday - Friday, 10am - 5pm; Saturday, 10am - 3pm
Shop G10 | Stadium on Main | Main Road | Claremont | 021 671 9551 | Image: Readers Den Comic Shop
GO TO A KIDS’ STORYTIME SESSION
This two-storey shop – situated in a beautiful building in Cape Town’s Eastern Precinct – boasts all sorts of genres, with a particular focus on literary fiction and poetry that you won’t find at mainstream bookstores. The Book Lounge also has coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milkshakes, and a small selection of tasty snacks on sale. Plus, they host a storytime session for children every Saturday at 11am. Read more about The Book Lounge.
Opening times: Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm; Saturday, 9am - 4pm; Sunday, 10am - 4pm
71 Roeland Street | CBD | 021 462 2425 | Image: Karel Scott
VISIT THIS SPOT THAT WAS A SAILOR’S PUB
Kalk Bay Books is not only located in a gorgeous seaside location, but is also found in Die Klipkantientjie, a stone building that was once a sailor’s pub. The bookshop offers a delightful offering of new books with genres such as science fiction, African literature and beautifully-illustrated children’s books. The chilled space also hosts noteworthy events regularly, like book launches and meet-and-greets with authors. It even lets avid readers host their own book clubs in what some called ‘the bookshop with the most beautiful view in the world’.
Opening times: Daily, 9am - 5pm
124 Main Road | Kalk Bay | Western Cape | 021 788 2266 | Image: Kalk Bay Books
BROWSE WHILE THE KIDS PLAY
This bookstore in Durbanville has both new and secondhand books, and a sizable children’s collection. There’s also a kiddies corner with chalk, blackboards and a toy bucket, perfect for entertaining the kids while you browse. You can find it in IPIC Aurora Shopping Centre, conveniently close to a coffee shop (any bibliophile will know that tea and cake pair wonderfully with a new book).
Opening hours: Daily, 9am - 6pm (closes 2pm on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday)
Aurora Shopping Centre | Durbanville | 082 355 5817 | Image: Adrian Smuts
FIND RESTORED GEMS
The Book Shoppe specialises in quality pre-owned books that are restored before being made available for purchase. The magic of this book haven is that new books are brought in on a daily basis and you’re guaranteed to never visit the same store twice. The variety at The Book Shoppe caters for both young and old across the spectrum of genres and also stocks both new and secondhand kiddies books, as well as old vinyls and art.
Opening times: Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm; Saturday 9am - 5pm; Sunday 10am - 3pm
3 Arts Village | Plumstead | Cape Town | 021 713 1528 | Image: The Book Shoppe
GET SECONDHAND BOOKS BY THE SEA
This rare gem has been in existence for many years and is a firm favourite amongst the Gordon’s Bay community. Seeded right on the family-friendly Bikini Beach, the bookstore is filled to the brim with titles covering all kinds of topics. Genres found in the unique store include fiction, non-fiction, travel, and even Russian books. Some of the books available are new, but most are secondhand.
Opening times: Monday - Saturday, 8am - 10pm
41 Beach Road | Gordon’s Bay Central | Image: Adam Hellyer
VISIT AN INSTITUTION (WITH OLD MAPS)
With a history spanning decades, Clarke’s Bookshop is a firm favourite amongst Capetonian bookworms. The books are spread over two storeys; the first floor houses new books with topics ranging from gender, slavery to music and art and the second storey stocks secondhand titles. Clarke’s also has an interesting range of maps dating back to the 1600s, all of which are on sale.
Opening times: Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm; Saturday, 9:30am - 1pm
199 Long Street | City Centre | Cape Town | 021 423 5739 | Image: Lara van Zyl
If you'd prefer to borrow than buy, the city has a ton of libraries to peruse. Find your local library via the City of Cape Town's website.
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