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12 Best Bookshops in Exeter

best bookshops in exeter

Explore literature at the best bookshops in Exeter

Exeter’s rich literary history immerses visitors in a world of literary giants and profound storytelling. The historic Exeter Cathedral, where J.K. Rowling drew inspiration for scenes in Harry Potter, stands as a testament to the city’s deep-rooted connection to literature.

When looking for something to read, nothing beats thumbing through the pages before you buy, so here is a list of the best bookshops in Exeter to help you find the perfect book for you.

All of the bookshops here are great and they are not set out in any particular order.


  • Location: 252 High St, Exeter, EX4 3PZ, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9am-6pm, Sunday: 10:30am-4:30pm
  • Description: Waterstones in Exeter offers a wide selection of books across various genres. Visitors can find both popular and niche titles in a cosy environment. The store is known for its welcoming atmosphere and knowledgeable staff, making it a great place to explore new reads.
  • Waterstones in Exeter is a modern and vibrant bookshop located on High Street. Spread out over three large floors, the bookstore offers a wide selection of books across various genres. Visitors can explore the spacious store and enjoy a welcoming atmosphere that encourages browsing and discovery. Additionally, Waterstones features a Costa Coffee on the First Floor, where visitors can relax and enjoy delicious refreshments while immersed in their latest book finds.The bookstore often hosts events like book signings, providing opportunities for book enthusiasts to meet bestselling authors like Hana Tooke. With its central location and diverse book collection, Waterstones in Exeter is a popular destination for both locals and visitors seeking a wide range of reading materials.
waterstones exeter


  • Location: 7-10, Mccoys Arcade, Fore St, Exeter EX4 3AN, United Kingdom
  • Description: Bookbag is an independent bookshop in Exeter that specializes in new books, including fiction, non-fiction, art books, children’s books, and teen books. The store offers UK-wide shipping, making it convenient for book lovers beyond Exeter.
  • The store prides itself on stocking a diverse range of titles to cater to various interests and age groups. Bookbag’s location in McCoys Arcade adds to its charm, providing visitors with a unique shopping experience in a vibrant setting.Visitors to Bookbag can expect to find a welcoming atmosphere and personalised service from the staff, who are knowledgeable about the books they offer. Whether you’re looking for a new novel, an educational read, or a gift for a young reader, Bookbag aims to provide a delightful browsing experience for book enthusiasts in Exeter.
bookbag exeter

Oxfam Books & Music

  • Location: 97-98 South St, Exeter, EX1 1EN, United Kingdom
  • Description: Oxfam Books & Music in Exeter is a unique bookstore that not only sells books but also music. Visitors can explore a range of second-hand books and support a charitable cause at the same time. The store is known for its friendly staff and community-oriented approach.
  • Oxfam Books & Music in Exeter is a unique bookstore that not only offers a variety of second-hand books but also sells music. Visitors can explore a diverse collection of pre-loved books and support a charitable cause at the same time. The store is known for its friendly staff and community-oriented approach, making it a welcoming place for book and music enthusiasts alike. At Oxfam Books & Music, visitors can find hidden literary gems and musical treasures while contributing to Oxfam’s humanitarian work. The bookstore’s location on South Street adds to its appeal, providing a convenient spot for book lovers to browse through titles and discover new reads.
oxfam exeter

Bridge Books

  • Location: 3 Okehampton St, Exeter, EX4 1DW, United Kingdom
  • Description: Bridge Books is a well-rated bookshop in Exeter that offers a diverse selection of books across various genres. Visitors can explore both new and second-hand books, making it a great place to find hidden gems. The store’s cosy atmosphere and friendly staff create a welcoming environment for book enthusiasts.
  • Bridge Book is a Christian bookshop and resource centre specializing in a wide range of materials such as Bibles, books, music, DVDs, cards, gifts, and teaching resources. The store aims to provide individuals with the necessary materials to grow in faith and share their beliefs with others. Visitors can explore a diverse selection of Christian literature, including Bibles in large print, CDs, DVDs, books for all ages, and various gifts suitable for special occasions. The shop’s welcoming atmosphere and focus on faith-based resources make it a valuable destination for those seeking Christian materials in Exeter. Whether you are looking for a specific book or a meaningful gift, Bridge Books offers both in-store browsing and online ordering options for added convenience.
bridge - best bookshops in exeter


  • Location: 7 West St, Exeter, EX1 1BB, United Kingdom
  • Description: Book-Cycle is a unique bookshop in Exeter that focuses on sustainability and giving back. This charity bookstore not only sells second-hand books but also supports initiatives like providing free books to children worldwide and promoting green living. Visitors can choose what to pay for up to three books per day, contributing to a noble cause.
  • Interesting Fact: Book-Cycle is housed in one of Exeter’s few remaining 15th-century timber-framed houses.
  • The organization aims to empower communities, both locally and globally, by providing free books and educational resources. Book-Cycle encourages the reforestation of England through its Tree Cycle project, promoting natural habitats for wildlife by growing and planting trees.Additionally, Book-Cycle collaborates with WHSmith through the WHSmith BookCycle program, offering a trade-in solution for second-hand books. Customers can register their old books on the WHSmith BookCycle website to determine their value based on criteria like condition and demand. Once registered, customers can exchange their books at participating WHSmith stores for an e-voucher that can be used in-store or online.Book-Cycle’s commitment to sustainability, community empowerment, and literacy makes it a valuable resource for book lovers looking to contribute to environmental conservation and educational initiatives.
book cycle

The Topsham Bookshop

  • Location: 27 Fore St, Topsham, Exeter EX3 0HD, United Kingdom
  • Description: The Topsham Bookshop is a charming bookstore located in Topsham, Exeter. This independent bookshop offers a curated selection of fiction and non-fiction books, catering to various interests. Visitors can enjoy browsing through unique titles in a cozy setting that adds to the overall book-buying experience.
  • This independent bookshop offers a large general stock of mainly out-of-print and second-hand books in both paperback and hardback formats. The bookstore aims to provide a special atmosphere where book lovers with varied interests can feel at home. Visitors to The Topsham Bookshop can explore three floors filled with literary treasures and enjoy personalized service from the owner. With an emphasis on creating a welcoming environment for book enthusiasts, this bookstore is a delightful destination for those seeking unique and diverse reading materials.
topsham bookshop


  • Location: 48-49 High St, Exeter, EX4 3DJ, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday: 8:30am-6pm, Sunday: 10:30am-4:30pm
  • Description: WHSmith in Exeter is a well-known chain bookstore offering a wide range of books, stationery, and magazines. Visitors can find bestsellers, children’s books, travel guides, and more in a convenient location on High Street. The store also provides a selection of gifts and cards for various occasions.
wh smith

The Bookery

  • Location: 1 Cathedral Close, Exeter, EX1 1EZ, United Kingdom
  • Description: The Bookery is a quaint bookshop located near Exeter Cathedral. This independent bookstore specializes in rare and collectible books, making it a haven for book collectors and enthusiasts. Visitors can explore unique editions and literary treasures in a historic setting that adds to the charm of the browsing experience.
  • Interesting Fact: The Bookery hosts occasional book signings and literary events, adding to its appeal for book lovers.

Exeter Library

  • Location: Castle St, Exeter, EX4 3PQ, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: Monday-Friday: 9:30am-6pm, Saturday: 9:30am-5pm
  • Description: Exeter Library is not just a library but also houses a well-stocked bookshop within its premises. Visitors can explore a wide selection of books for all ages and interests while enjoying the peaceful ambiance of the library. The bookshop offers both new releases and classic titles, making it a great destination for book lovers seeking a quiet place to browse.
exeter library

The Quay Antiques Centre & Bookshop

  • Location: The Quay, 1 The Quay, Exeter, EX2 4AN, United Kingdom
  • Description: The Quay Antiques Centre & Bookshop is a unique destination for book lovers and antique enthusiasts. Located by the Quayside, this bookshop offers a diverse selection of second-hand books, including rare and collectible editions. Visitors can explore the shelves filled with literary treasures while enjoying the picturesque views of the Quay.
  • With a collective of 65 dealers spread over three floors covering 9000 square feet, visitors can explore a vast selection of treasures. The centre offers an array of items for enthusiasts looking for unique pieces to add to their collections. This bookshop offers a variety of books and literary items, adding to the charm of the overall experience at The Quay Antiques Centre. Visitors can immerse themselves in a world of history and nostalgia while browsing through the eclectic mix of antiques and books.
  • Interesting Fact: The bookshop is part of a larger antiques centre, making it a delightful place to browse for both books and vintage items.

Barnardo’s Books

  • Location: 1-2 South St, Exeter, EX1 1DZ, United Kingdom
  • Description: Barnardo’s Books is a charity bookstore in Exeter that supports the work of Barnardo’s, a children’s charity. Visitors can find a range of pre-loved books at affordable prices, with proceeds going towards helping vulnerable children and young people. The store offers a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books, making it a great place to shop for a cause.

Blackwell’s at the University of Exeter

  • Location: University of Exeter, Great Hall Foyer, Exeter, United Kingdom
  • Opening Hours: Monday-Friday: 9:00am-5:00pm
  • Blackwell’s at the University of Exeter is the campus bookshop that caters to students’ academic needs. Located in the Great Hall Foyer, this bookstore offers a wide selection of reading list and academic texts at discounted prices. In addition to new books, Blackwell’s also sells second-hand books and buys them from students.
  • Visitors can find a range of academic resources, including textbooks and reference materials, making it a convenient stop for students looking to purchase course-related books.The bookstore not only provides essential academic texts but also offers greetings cards, non-academic texts, and DVDs. With a focus on sustainability and affordability, Blackwell’s at the University of Exeter aims to support students throughout their academic journey by providing access to necessary resources in a convenient location on campus.

Visit Historic Literary Sites in Exeter

Exeter, a city steeped in literary history, boasts a plethora of historic sites that have inspired and housed renowned writers over the centuries. One such site is the Exeter Cathedral, where celebrated author J.K. Rowling drew inspiration for her famous Harry Potter series. Another must-visit location is the Tuckers Hall, a historic building that has ties to Charles Dickens and his classic novels.

Moreover, the Exeter Historic Quayside is a charming area that has captivated the minds of many writers, including Thomas Hardy and Agatha Christie. Walking along the quay, visitors can immerse themselves in the same ambiance that once sparked creativity in these literary giants. Additionally, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery stands as a treasure trove of cultural heritage, attracting writers and artists alike with its extensive collections and exhibitions.

Experience Exeter’s Literary Events and Festivals

exeter literary festival

The Exeter Literary Festival is an inclusive and vibrant celebration that caters to readers, writers, and literature enthusiasts. This festival provides a platform for literary exploration, creativity, and community engagement. With a focus on fostering a love for literature, the festival offers a diverse range of events, workshops, and activities that appeal to a wide audience.One of the highlights of the Exeter Literary Festival is the Exeter Writers Short Story Competition.

This prestigious contest, now in its 15th year, invites writers to submit original and unpublished short stories of up to 3,000 words on any theme. The competition not only encourages creativity but also offers substantial prizes, including £700 for the top entry. Additionally, there are cash prizes for second and third place winners, as well as a special prize for the best entry from a writer residing in Devon.

The festival’s commitment to nurturing literary talent is evident through initiatives like the short story competition, which provides writers with a platform to showcase their work and potentially get published on the Exeter Writers website. By promoting creativity and storytelling, the Exeter Literary Festival plays a vital role in supporting emerging writers and engaging the local literary community in a dynamic and enriching cultural experience.For more information about the Exeter Literary Festival and its upcoming events, you can visit their official website at Exeter Literary Festival.

This list of the best bookshops in Exeter should give you plenty to do, but if you are looking for more things to do in Exeter even when its raining, these links will help!

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