7 of the best second-hand bookshops in Kent

Second Hand book shop Baggins Book Bazaar in historic Rochester, Kent

Baggins Book Bazaar in historic Rochester in Kent - Credit: Alex Liivet / Flickr

There's just something so charming, romantic even, about buying old books, the worn spines, the dusty smell, all the strangers dispersed through time that perused the same pages you read now. 

Romance aside, buying second-hand books is also an easy way to be more sustainable without changing your habits drastically.

So whether you're trying to be more sustainable or love the romance of a pre-owned book, we have found the best second-hand bookshops in Kent.

1. Baggins Book Bazaar

19 High St, Rochester ME1 1PY

Described as the largest second-hand bookshop in England, Baggins is close to the castle and city centre. Having worked in the (new) book trade, Godfrey George opened the shop in 1986, launching Baggins with the original intention of putting Rochester on the map as a 'book town' which, he admits, hasn't quite materialised, apart from his own part of it. He chose the name Baggins, the surname of J.R.R Tolkein's adventurous Hobbits Bilbo and Frodo from the famous Middle Earth novels The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, because it sounded friendly.

Godfrey says: "We cater for the real bibliophile. My personal interest is in illustrated books and the subjects of modern art and local topography, plus I have a tremendous comprehensive collection of books illustrated by local artist Donald Maxwell. "I may not be rich in financial terms, but I'm rich in useful knowledge and trivia, gleaned from the thousands of tomes which pass through my hands each week."

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2. The Chaucer Bookshop

6 Beer Cart Ln, Canterbury CT1 2NY

Named after Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of The Canterbury Tales, which is arguably one of the most important works of English Literature ever published. The Chaucer Bookshop first opened its doors in 1956 and is housed in a gorgeous 18th-century building which is less than 10 minutes walking distance from the Cathedral. 

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3. Past Sentence 

West House, 119 West St, Faversham ME13 7JB

This independent family run bookshop buys and sells second-hand books in the heart of Faversham. They have a wide selection to choose from and pride themselves on exceptional customer service, something all their online reviews back up.

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4. Michael's Bookshop

72 King St, Ramsgate CT11 8NY

Home to over 25,000 books and 200 books and maps about the local area, Michael's Bookshop is a treasure trove. The building the bookshop inhabits has been many things over the years; in 1821, it was The Prince Coburg pub, and more recently, in the '60s and '70s, it was the Design and Colour paint and wallpaper shop.  

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5. The Old Bank Bookshop

17-18 The Parade, Margate CT9 1EY

The Old Bank Bookshop is run by the charity Pilgrims Hospices, which raises money to help those facing terminal illnesses to get the best care and support possible. The bookshop gets its name from the fact that the building was indeed once upon a time a bank.

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6. Catching Lives Charity Bookshop

28 Palace St, Canterbury CT1 2DZ

This charity bookshop is situated in a decidedly wonky 17th-century building which is the second most photographed building in Canterbury after the Catherdral! Run by a dedicated team of volunteers and stocking a whole range of second-hand and collectable books this is certainly not a bookshop to miss.

Catching Lives is an independent charity based in Canterbury, Kent, supporting rough sleepers and the vulnerably housed within the Canterbury & East Kent area.

7. Hall's Bookshop

20-22 Chapel Place, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1YQ

Hall's Bookshop has been buying and selling second-hand books in Royal Tunbridge Wells since 1898. In 2014, Adrian Harrington became the new proprietor and inserted his successful eponymous rare books company onto the first floor, creating a sort of mecca for the serious bookworm and preserving the history of the Hall's Bookshop brand.

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