The 13 best independent bookshops in Norfolk
- Credit: Ian Burt
With bookshops able to open once again, we've found 13 great independent stores for you to support across Norfolk.
Whether you want the latest bestseller, a specialist nature book, something to inspire your children or to learn more about local history – there is a bookshop in Norfolk to suit everyone, packed full of magical finds waiting to be discovered.
Blickling Hall Bookshop
The Blickling Hall National Trust secondhand charity book shop opens seven days a week, 10am to 5pm, and it is perfect to pop in after exploring the estate. It is run by volunteers and all the books are all donated by visitors and supporters, with all proceeds for the benefit of the Blickling Estate.
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Our first (of many) Norwich based bookshops is a delightful step into wonderland. They describe themselves as 'more than a bookshop' and seek to inspire the next generation of readers with cosy corners for them to explore new books. They also stock a collection of more grown-up texts so you can browse with your little ones. Don't forget to try their cake and coffee whilst you're there for the ultimate experience.
The Book Hive
Since it was opened in 2009 by Henry Layte, The Book Hive in Norwich has won numerous accolades and is now an important part of Norfolk’s literary scene. As well as selling a widehuge range of personally selected titles, often hard to find elsewhere, covering fiction, poetry, art and design, children’s books and cookery, it encourages and supports new writers and those seeking to become published. It is also the place to go for high profile local book launches.
The quaint and inviting Ceres Bookshop and Tea Room in Swaffham sells both new and secondhand books, and is known for its warm welcome. As well as the manyhuge number of books filling the shelves, the shop also orders copiesbooks for collection and runs a book evaluation service. Best of all, it also has its own café with speciality cakes and you can take a book from the shelf to read while enjoying a quiet cuppa.
In the heart of Norwich, The family-run City Bookshop is a haven for book lovers. Not only does it have a fantastic range of new books, there are thousands of second hand titles and rarities to devour. There is a large section of books focusing on the history of Norfolk and the Broads, as well as a large selection of military, art and transport related titles.
The Crabpot Bookshop
Set up by former publisher Louise Abbott in Cley more than a decade ago, The Crabpot Bookshop is a big favourite with naturalists and twitchers who frequent the Norfolk coast. She has since opened a second shop in Wells. Louise now has thousands of second hand books – from modern and classic novels to more unusual non – fiction books, all waiting to be discovered. She also specialises in bird and natural history books.
The new kid on the block, DNA only opened in August, 2021 and already is making a name for itself as the chicest bookshop around. With a mixture of art and gorgeous books, they will definitely be able to find your next best read. They specialise in books that make a statement with some amazing 'coffee table books' that range in subject from 80s album covers to collections of Banksy's work. If you're looking for something more along the fiction line, they stock a range of contemporary and classic prose and fiction.
The Holt Bookshop
Frequently included in nationwide lists of the best bookshops, The Holt Bookshop was opened by Stephen Fry in 2005. Nestled away in a courtyard just off the main high street, it has more than 12 000 books in stock, including a great range of local interest and natural history books. In the past 10 years, it has organised many major author events in the town, including the likes of Alan Bennett, Michael Palin and Dame Stella Rimington.
Printing and publishing have been at the heart of the Jarrold business since the 19th century and today it remains one of the county’s Norfolk’s most famous book sellers, with a presence on many of our town’s high streets. The basement of the Norwich store is home to its flagship book department where you can find everything from the latest bestsellers, food and drink titles and travel guides to local books, specialist authors and an engaging children’s department. It also hosts many literary events featuring leading writers from around the globe. And at Cromer, it has a large range of books, including a strong selection of publications about Norfolk.
Kett’s Books in Wymondham is a not-for-profit independent bookshop run by the community for the community. In 2013, when the privately run shop looked set to close, a group of volunteers gathered together and set about saving it for the benefit of the whole town. It has a vast stock of books and the volunteers take time to get to know customers and pass on recommendations. It also works closely with schools through numerous initiatives, with a focus on engaging children of all ages in books and literature.
Norfolk Children’s Book Centre
The Norfolk Children’s Book Centre at Alby is a joy to visit. Located rather unassumingly down a country lane near the north-east village of Alby, it is fantastic for children and parents alike. Owner Marilyn Brocklehurst and her staff have an incredible knowledge of childrenkid’s books and, as well as running the shop, they also works closely with teachers and schools. Everyone who visits the shop is encouraged to sit down with a free cup of tea and explore the books, with their little ones, and there are plenty of recommendations should you need them.
Not Just Books
In the heart of town lies a readers paradise, stocking just about everything you could hope for. They are also partial to the odd graphic novel and picture book - and not just the one's meant for kids. Pair their jampacked shelves with friendly and knowledgeable staff, and you have the perfect place to chill out and browse to your heart's content.
On the North Norfolk coast, this bookshop has been servicing the literary needs of both locals and visitors alike for nearly 30 years. It was taken over by Kate Bennett in November 2007 and has cultivated a great collection of local authors, general fiction, and history texts. You'll also be able to pick up a card or two made by Kate herself.