AN AUTUMNAL aesthetic is typically epitomised with scarfs, woodland walks, pumpkin spiced lattes, cosy jumpers and curling up by a fire with a good book. And with Book Week Scotland 2021 taking place on 15-21 November, it’s the perfect excuse to stock up on some literary gems.

Our independent bookshops haven’t had an easy time of it after having to close for months and need our support now more than ever. With so many quirky independent bookstores in Scotland, each one offers something original when browsing for your next page-turner. Whether you’re on the hunt for a second-hand classic, rare edition, or a new release, these independent Scottish bookshops have got you covered.



Portobello High Street, EH15 1DA

Located in the seaside community of Portobello, this independent bookshop has been curated to exude a warm, modern open space making it easy to find your next literary match. The Portobello Bookshop opened in July 2019.

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Owner Jack Clark says: “Whilst our first couple of years were extremely different from what we’d anticipated, we’re glad to have made it through a global pandemic and are looking forward to many more years of bookselling.”

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The indie bookshop is known to host many interesting events and stocks a healthy supply of fiction and non-fiction in spacious and well-lit surroundings. Notable features in the store include decorative columns, foliage, and colourful window displays.

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10am to 6pm, 7 days




Church St, IV1 1EY

The perfect place to while away the hours on a dreich day, Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness town centre is a firm favourite with visiting bibliophiles.

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The former Gaelic church (fittingly located on Church Street) was converted in the mid-90s to become one of Scotland’s most impressive bookstores. Once inside the grand building, visitors can discover a wealth of second-hand books, prints, maps and even heat up beside the store’s wood-burning stove.

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A spiral staircase connects the two floors in Leakey’s, and with plenty of comfy chairs to sink into, you may find yourself becoming like part of the furniture while getting lost in new literary adventures.

Monday-Saturday, 10am-5:30pm




West Port, EH1 2LE

Overlooking Edinburgh’s Grassmarket and in view of the castle is Armchair Books. Inside you will find a plethora of floor to ceiling passageways packed with books with plenty of stylish hanging lights and oriental rugs lining walkways.

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Armchair Books is full of character and matches Edinburgh’s historic surroundings to great effect. Jaclyn Kaye, who owns the store alongside Andrew Govan-Prini, jests: “Family-run for over 30 years, our current incarnation has manifested as a bunch of recovering academics, job-stealing immigrants, and ne’er-do-well youths raging against the dying of long-term affordable housing … we also sell books: all used, many quite interesting.

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Armchair Books has been lucky to have so much community support, especially during the pandemic.”

12:30 - 5:30pm, Sun–Thurs; 10am - 6.30pm, Fri/Sat



North Main St, DG8 9HL

Located in Scotland’s National Book Town, this Wigtown-based shop is Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop and claims to be the oldest in the town.

Established over 50 years ago, The Bookshop stocks a varied and extensive collection of second-hand books that cover nearly a mile of shelving. Filled with around 100,000 books, make sure you give yourself some time to browse and get lost in the shop’s many nooks and crannies.

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The store’s relaxing and quirky atmosphere appeals to many visitors, giving the place an almost museum feel. Shaun Bythell, owner of The Bookshop, has maintained the charm of the period building, while creating a homely welcoming feel to the bookstore. Visitors are also warned to watch out for The Captain – the shop’s resident cat.

9am – 5pm, Monday – Saturday



Otago Lane, G12 8PP

Nestled discreetly in Glasgow’s West End, down the trendy bohemian Otago Lane, you will find this emporium of second-hand and antiquarian books on a wide range of subjects. With thousands of books, including rare tomes, manuscripts, maps, records, and hundreds of curiosities from the country’s past, Voltaire & Rousseau Bookshop is an Aladdin’s cave for any self-confessed bookworm.

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Customers are invited to peruse the aisles, sink into a chair, and enjoy an afternoon book hunt in the cosy confines of the store.

With aisles stacked with books you may have to rummage around, but if you’re looking for inspiration then it’s the ideal store. Voltaire & Rousseau Bookshop also has help from the friendly shop cat.

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10am – 6pm, Mon – Sat



Station Rd, Birnam, Dunkeld PH8 0DS

While Dunkeld continues to boom with tourists, neighbouring village Birnam has many charms of its own. A main attraction in the village is independent bookstore The Birnam Reader. Frazer Williams runs the small but well-stocked store and café.

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Light and airy inside, and with ample coffee and cake offerings, the venue attracts locals and many passers-by to sit inside or out and browse the shelves at their leisure. It’s the perfect pitstop after a long walk or cycle, to heat up, or just to pause and appreciate your surroundings. With lots of second-hand books on art, film, history, crime, and contemporary fiction, it’s the place to find a hidden gem without feeling overwhelmed with choice.

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Frazer is also an event organiser for the increasingly popular Birnam Book Festival.

11am - 7pm, Friday – Monday




Mill Street, PH15 2BG

This Perthshire bookshop, café and gallery remains an integral part of the community. “The building dates back to 1826 and was a working oatmeal mill for a while before being lovingly restored into a mill museum,” says Kevin Ramage who, along with his wife Jayne, transformed the A-listed building into The Watermill.

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In 2008-09 The Watermill was voted UK Independent Bookshop of the Year and was included in the New Yorker collection ‘Footnotes to the 75 Greatest Bookshops in the World’ in 2016.

Kevin admits: “I think one of the things people most admire about the place is that there is plenty of space for books to breathe and room to allow the books to be presented properly.”

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10am-5pm, Mon-Sat; 11am-5pm Sunday