We get it: When you visit a foreign country, there’s nothing quite like taking a piece of the local language home with you.
It could be a classic novel in the language, a non-fiction book such as a travel guide or a biography, or even some new teaching materials for your classroom.
And where better to experience the English language than Exeter, home to over a thousand years of literary culture?
Being seasoned book-buyers ourselves, here’s our guide to Exeter's best English bookshops.
Waterstones is one of the UK’s main book shop chains. A solid favourite all over the country, they sell brand new books from a wide range of genres. If you love ‘that bookshop smell’, Waterstones is the place to go - their shops have a traditional yet comfortable feel, offering the perfect escape for quiet browsing.
Exeter is spoilt for choice with two Waterstones branches. The High Street shop backs onto the Cathedral Green, whilst the Roman Gate shop sits on the corner at the end of the High Street near the John Lewis department store. Both are worth a visit, and make sure to go upstairs in both shops: the Roman Gate shop has three light and airy floors and even a coffee shop for you to enjoy your new purchases in.
Waterstones also offers a convenient ordering system. Previous visitors to IPC have placed their orders (in person or online) shortly after arriving in Exeter, and have picked up their books in-store by the end their course.
This is a great option if you are looking for something specific, and the shop’s knowledgeable staff are always happy to help.
48-49 High Street, Exeter, EX4 3DJ (High Street)
252 High Street, Exeter, EX4 3PZ (Roman Gate)
+44 1392 218392 (HS) / +44 1392 423044 (RG)
Eco-friendly, economically priced and set in a historical house: this little shop is an absolute must.
Founded in Exeter, Book-Cycle is a charity which uses their profits to provide free books to children worldwide. They also support reforestation and a long list of green-living initiatives.
Their motto is ‘Choose what to pay for up to three books per day’, meaning you can donate however much you would like to pay for your little pile of carefully-selected second-hand books. Book-Cycle are warmly grateful for every donation received.
Occupying one of Exeter’s few remaining 15th century timber-framed houses, the shop itself is steeped in English history and is worth visiting purely for the experience of spending an hour browsing in its atmospheric four-hundred year old rooms, perched on top of one another and filled to the brim with books. Heaven.
7 West Street, Exeter, EX1 1BB
+44 1392 420021
Charity shops are everywhere in the UK and are the place to find literary bargains.
Oxfam book shops are specialist book-only charity shops which can be found in cities and towns across the country. By buying a book here you are doing a good turn, supporting Oxfam’s efforts to reduce poverty across the world.
Oxfam book shops are known for stocking quality second-hand books at reasonable prices. Here at IPC we have picked up lots of nearly-new gems here over the years. Exeter’s branch has sections including fiction, classics, poetry, drama, travel, languages, religion and philosophy.
If you love listening to music as well as reading, there is another specialist Oxfam shop right next door – the Oxfam Music Shop sells vinyl records, CDs and music paraphernalia such as t-shirts and prints.
98 South St, Exeter EX1 1EN
+44 1392 493433
Just a few shops down the road from the Oxfam Book Shop is Hospiscare Books and Antiques. They specialise in antiquarian books, some hundreds of years old, and antique objects of all kinds. A real treasure trove, you can find just about anything here – from sheet music and vintage comics to paintings and collectibles.
Also a charity shop, the Hospiscare Bookshop raises money to support adults in need of round-the-clock care due to terminal illness.
Along with the Oxfam shop above, the Hospiscare shop is only a five minute walk away from IPC – perfectly placed for a visit at lunch time. But beware: it may be small, but it is very easy to spend an hour or more browsing its crowded shelves and wonderfully eclectic boxes.
84 South St, Exeter EX1 1EQ
+44 1392 435453
Based on the beautiful University campus, this small but well-stocked shop specialises in academic publications.
Like Waterstones, Blackwells is a national bookshop chain, founded in Oxford in 1879. This mini-branch supplies the University of Exeter’s students with reading material for their courses. Philosophy, literature, theory, law, business and languages are just a few of the genres available to buy here. There are often sales baskets outside with old course books that have been discounted, as well as calendars and gifts.
The bookshop can be found hidden away in the foyer to the Great Hall. If you would like to visit, just ask at the IPC Office or the Student Information Desk at the University for more information.
Great Hall Foyer, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4PY
+44 1392 433992
Discover any more great bookshops in Exeter? Let us know below!
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