I consider myself a minor book collector. I’m not on the hunt for any super rare book like the kinds JP Morgan collected in his collection at the Morgan Library in NYC (think original Shakespeare comedies, histories, & tragedies from the 1600s, the Gutenberg Bible, etc), but I’m on the hunt for pretty (Instagram-esque) books namely, the Penguin English Library collection.
These are books first printed in 2012 (so like 400 years later than JP Morgan’s collection) and many are out of print. I’ve been purchasing them online as booksellers list them, but there’s nothing like going to an actual store to purchase a book.
Since the collection is published by Penguin UK, I’ve heard if you’re lucky, you can find out of print copies at used bookshops around the UK.
So on my second trip to Edinburgh, I was on the hunt for these books. Plus, I also get to share these seven bookstores I came across with you:
1. Waterstones – Princes Street
This is the bookstore you can’t miss in Edinburgh. And you really won’t miss it. Chances are during your trip to Edinburgh, you’ll walk along Princes Street, one of the main streets in central Edinburgh and storefronts of many international brands.
Waterstones is at the end of Princes Street towards the West End. There’s four floors with a cafe on the top with views of Edinburgh Castle (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat with the best view!)
I’m a fan of the Scottish section on the main floor, with a selection of books by authors from Scotland. I bought a book to add to my Penguin English Library collection, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (he was born in Edinburgh).
And of course on my hunt for beautiful Penguin English Library books, I could stare at the tables of Penguin Clothbounds (above)…
And those beautiful Penguin English Library books.
128 Princes St, West End
Edinburgh EH2 4AD
Blackwell’s is another bookshop company with stores across the UK. You can’t miss Blackwell’s blue facade at their Edinburgh location. In terms of classics, there’s an entire corner dedicated to classic literature, including a few Penguin English Library editions tucked between other editions.
53-62 South Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1YS
3. Oxfam Bookshop
This company is a second hand bookstore recommended to me by a fellow bookstagrammer (a community of book lovers on Instagram) who told me they sometimes have out of print Penguin English Library books if you’re lucky.
I went to two of their locations in Edinburgh in search for those Penguin English Library books. I found one at Oxfam Stockbridge, The Five Orange Pips and Other Cases by Arthur Doyle Conan (who was born in Edinburgh).
64 Raeburn Pl
Edinburgh EH4 1HJ
Oxfam Nicolson Street
116 Nicolson Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9EJ
4. Golden Hare Books
On my way in search of the photogenic Circus Lane, I stumbled across Golden Hare Books and am so glad I did. It’s a cute independent bookshop in Stockbridge that hosts many events and offers beautiful books.
There’s a cute children’s area in the back of the shop.
And I was so happy to have found one of the newly published Penguin English Library book, The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield. She’s not a Scottish author, like all the other Penguin English Library books I got while in Edinburgh… but I wanted to support the independent shop, and I needed it for my collection.
68 St Stephen St
Edinburgh EH3 5AQ
5. Armchair Books
I saw this place on Instagram before my first trip to Edinburgh and that was the first bookstore I went to. It’s a used bookshop, and the best part is the interior. It feels like being in a cave of books.
Last time I was there, I found a copy of The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. This time around, unfortunately after looking through every single book there, I left empty handed. But not really, because I did leave with a few great pictures.
72-74 West Port
Edinburgh EH1 2LE
6. John Kay’s Shop
I realized on the last day of my second trip to Edinburgh in one year, I’d only taken pictures of Victoria Street from the bottom and top of the hill and hadn’t actually walked on the street.
I remedied that by walking into a few shops. I bought a Christmas present for a family member at Walker Slater, and also came across John Kay’s Shop. There’s souvenirs and to my delight, Penguin English Library books. There was one copy left of The Sign of Four, also by Arthur Conan Doyle.
8 Victoria St
Edinburgh EH1 2HG
7. Edinburgh Books
Another used bookstore in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Books is just down the road from Armchair Books. It also feels like being in a cave of books, just smaller. I found one Penguin English Library book with the original matte cover, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, but I already have a copy of it.
145-147, West Port
Edinburgh EH3 9DP