We’ve found the best independent book stores around the coast, from murder mystery specialists to secondhand havens. Words: Kate Youde


No Alibis, Belfast, County Antrim

Fans of whodunits and thriller novels will feel at home in No Alibis, a specialist crime bookshop in the heart of Belfast. Celebrating its 20th birthday next year, the store expanded its range to fill the gap created by the closure of another local independent bookshop five years ago, so there is plenty to please non-crime lovers too. Friendly, enthusiastic staff make recommendations and often a free cuppa for browsers. No Alibis, 83 Botanic Avenue, Belfast BT7 1JL (028 90319601, noalibis.com).

Bridge Bookshop, Port Erin, Isle of Man

You don’t need to stray far from your deckchair on Port Erin Beach to find your next good read – it’s less than 30 metres from the sand to the well-stocked shelves of the Bridge Bookshop. As well as fiction, factual and children’s books, the seaside store specialises in titles about the Isle of Man – read about Manx history, language and myths. It also runs pop-up bookshops at all the island’s main summer events, from the Royal Manx Agricultural Show to the Deep South Festival. Bridge Bookshop, Shore Road, Port Erin, Isle of Man IM9 6HL (01624 833376, bridge-bookshop.com). Photo: Richard Creegan-Watson

The Aldeburgh Bookshop, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

The renowned bookery has been on the same site near the beach since 1949, with the current owners taking over in 2000. Since then, it’s been named Independent Bookshop of the Year and gained a reputation for hosting regular literary events – author talks, signings, a monthly book club – while its owners organise the annual Aldeburgh Literary Festival (2-5 March 2017). An excellent local section has books on the Suffolk coast and history. The Aldeburgh Bookshop, 42 High Street, Aldeburgh, Suffolk IP15 5AB (01728 452389, aldeburghbookshop.co.uk).

Crabpot Books, Cley next the Sea, Norfolk

Louise Abbott left her career as a book editor in London to open Crabpot Books in the North Norfolk coastal village of Cley nine years ago. Her welcoming secondhand bookshop – so named because it replaced a village store whose owners caught and sold crab – is a great place to potter and, inevitably, buy, as it offers something for all tastes. Close to Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Cley Marshes nature reserve, the shop, which has Wells-next-the-Sea sister branch, sells lots of natural history and bird books. Crabpot Books, High Street, Cley next the Sea, Norfolk NR25 7RN (01263 740218).

The Book Nook, Hove, East Sussex

A short stroll from the pebbly seafront in Hove, this award-winning children’s bookshop, which was opened by former teacher Vanessa Lewis and her partner Julie Ward in 2009, stocks a brilliant range of titles for babies right through to teenagers. It also runs fun author events, character days and craft activities. Kids love The Book Nook’s pirate ship, which is stocked with books designed to encourage them to read, while adults can relax in the café. The Book Nook, St John's Place, First Avenue, Hove BN3 2FJ (01273 911988, booknookuk.com).

Caxton Books & Gallery, Frinton-on-Sea, Essex

A hop and a skip from Frinton’s sandy shoreline, Caxton Books & Gallery offers both literature and arts and crafts. The book section of the shop leads through to a space displaying paintings, ceramics and jewellery by local artists inspired by the coast. Owners Sally Johnson and Judith Charlesworth are especially fond of fiction so this is the place to discover hot new writers – watch out for regular book club suppers and author signings. Caxton Books & Gallery, 37 Connaught Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea, Essex CO13 9PN (01255 851505, caxton-books.co.uk).

The Open Book, Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway

Turn the dream of running a bookshop by the sea into reality at The Open Book near Wigtown Bay on the Machars Peninsula. Visitors can rent an apartment, sleeping two, above the secondhand bookshop for between six and 13 nights and experience life as a bookseller by helping to run the store. As Scotland’s designated National Book Town, Wigtown is a haven for bookworms, boasting a dozen indie bookshops. The Open Book, 2 High Street, Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway DG8 9HQ (01988 402010, airbnb.co.uk). Photo: Colin Tennant Photography

Seaways, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire

Situated in a pretty pastel blue Grade II-listed Georgian house near the spectacular Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Seaways caters for walkers, offering local maps and guidebooks among its wide-ranging stock. Former midwife Bridget Kenner and her friend Barbara Young took over the running of the shop six years ago, unwilling to see another indie bookshop close its doors. And if there’s a book you want which isn’t on the shelves Seaways offers a next-day delivery service – handy for holidaymakers. Seaways,12 West Street, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire SA65 9AE (01348 873433, seawaysbookshop.co.uk).

St Ives Bookseller, St Ives, Cornwall

Close to St Ives Harbour, this enticing store with its cool Cornish slate floors offers over 5,000 books, ranging from holiday pot-boilers to titles with a Cornish flavour. These include Soggy The Bear children’s picture books written by local retired master mariner Philip Moran, and Pasties by food writer Lindsey Bareham, both published by the shop’s owner, Mabecron Books. The St Ives Bookseller, 2 Fore Street, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1AB (01736 796676, stives-bookseller.co.uk). Photo: Oliver Bishop-Young

For more coastal guides, click here or pick up a copy of the magazine.

For more coastal guides, click here or pick up a copy of the magazine.