There is much to be said for buying used books. They’re more affordable, better for the environment, and have a particular old book smell to them that you can’t find anywhere else. They’re a little worn in already, so the stakes are lower for coffee spills and cracking the spine. There’s also something very charming and intriguing in knowing that another person has read it before you. Who were they? What did they think?
Regardless of what your reason is for buying second-hand, Dublin has plenty of spots to browse used books. Any of the places on this list can have you browsing for ages.
Kicking off this list is the iconic Chapters, Dublin’s largest independent bookshop. Chapters’ entire upper floor is dedicated to used books. They are all categorized and alphabetized, which is useful if you have a particular book, author or genre you’re searching for. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the used books section, head downstairs to their large range of new books.
Where: Ivy Exchange, Parnell St, Dublin 1
2. The Winding Stair
Named after the Yeats poem, The Winding Stair is one of Ireland’s oldest independent bookshops. It’s right on the Liffey in the city centre, and you can’t miss their lovely window display as you walk past. The used book section is found at the back of the shop and they also have a restaurant upstairs.
Where: 40 Ormond Quay, North City, Dublin 1
3. The Secret Book and Record Store
The Secret Book and Record Store is tucked away in a corner on Wicklow Street, near Trinity College. You’ll walk down a short hallway that opens into a cosy little shop, selling both new and used books, as well as records. With a lovely atmosphere and lots of interesting finds, it’s worth a visit just for the browsing experience.
Where: 15 Wicklow St, Dublin 2
4. Stokes Books
Stokes Books is a small bookshop in George’s Arcade. They specialize in Irish history books, selling both old and new copies. If you haven’t yet been to George’s Arcade, there’s so much to see, do and eat there. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Where: 19 Market Arcade, South Great George’s St, Dublin 2
5. Oxfam Books
Oxfam Books on Parliament Street in Temple Bar is an Oxfam charity shop dedicated solely to books. They have a wide range of sections and additionally, their prices are great. You might just spot a favourite book at a bargain price.
Where: 23 Parliament St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
6. The Last Bookshop
The front section of The Last Bookshop is dedicated to Irish literature – that is, Irish history books, Irish language books and Irish fiction. Venture into the back and you’ll find general fiction, as well as topics like film, art, science and history – and most are second-hand. The Cake Café is out the back, if you’re interested in a nibble in between browsing. Also, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a lovely small dog called Bertie roaming around the shop.
Where: 61 Camden St Lower, Saint Kevin’s, Dublin 2
7. Temple Bar Book Market
You can find the Temple Bar Book Market on Saturdays and Sundays. They sell a broad range of both new and used books, as well as vinyl collections. Set in the beautiful, cobblestoned Temple Bar, you’re sure to have a lovely browsing experience.
Where: Temple Bar Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
It’s always good to support local shops! If you’re interested in visiting independent bookshops in Dublin, check out our list here.