7 unmissable independent bookshops in Yorkshire
Last updated Apr 5, 2024

Last week the Stray Ferret explored how many people are rediscovering the joy of physical books – and this reading renaissance goes hand-in-hand with an increase in the amount of independent bookshops on the UK’s high street.

In 2022, the Bookseller’s Association reported a record amount of indie stores opening their doors, a number then surpassed in 2023, with 51 shops starting to trade.

North Yorkshire has always been a hotspot for independent businesses, and bookshops are no exception to this rule – here are just some of the highlights to pop into for a browse.

Castlegate Books, Knaresborough

(Image: Castlegate Books)

Tucked into a corner of Market Place, Castlegate Books has been a firm fixture on the Knaresborough high street since 2008.

Owned by Gary Cooper, the shop stocks new books online and in store, as well as selling a range of greeting cards and postcards of the local area. National book tokens are also redeemable in-store.

According to the Castlegate Books website, there’s over 100,000 titles available online, with free UK delivery offered.

Castlegate Books is located at 13 Market Place, Knaresborough, HG5 8AL.

Reading Roots, Wetherby

Reading Roots

Reading Roots joined Wetherby’s collection of thriving independent businesses in 2022, when Kiera Andrews was visiting family and spotted an empty store in the town.

Located centrally, the shop sells a diverse selection of fiction and a non-fiction books, including travel, sport, history – and a section all about Yorkshire.

The shop even offers work experience placements, collaborating with local schools in the area to inspire the next generation.

Reading Roots is located at 29 Market Place, Wetherby, LS22 6LQ.

Little Ripon Bookshop, Ripon

The Little Ripon Bookshop

It’s Little Ripon Bookshop’s 15th anniversary this year – a true testament to an enduring love of books. A family-run enterprise, it first opened their doors in 2009, and expanded into the shop next door in 2018.

Stocking a range of new releases and old classics, as well as children’s titles and a range of stationary, cards and gifts, the bookshop is a firm fixture of Ripon’s independent retail scene.

It also hosts book clubs for adults and children, plus evening talks by local authors.

Little Ripon Bookshop is located at 12-13 Westgate, Ripon, North Yorkshire. HG4 2AT.

Imagined Things, Harrogate

Imagined Things bookshop in Harrogate

Imagined Things

Imagined Things opened its doors on Montpellier Parade in 2017 to much fanfare and rightly so; it was Harrogate’s first independent bookshop stocking new books in nearly twenty years.

A lifelong bibliophile, owner Georgia worked as a radiographer at Harrogate District Hospital for six years before deciding to pursue her passion for all things literature.

The shop stocks an eclectic range of genres to suit different tastes, and can post books to anywhere in the UK.

Imagined Things is located at 21 Montpellier Parade, Harrogate HG1 2TG.

Criminally Good Books, York

(Image: Pixabay)

Criminally Good Books is a relative newcomer to the York streets, but due to its unique twist of stocking all things crime-related, it has already built up quite the reputation.

The quirky window sticker depicting the classic chalk outline of a body – surrounded by books of course – sets the theme and is an eye-catching to the shopfronts along Colliergate.

Whether you’re a fan of a thriller, or prefer a non-fiction deep dive, there’s a diverse range of authors and subjects to choose from. The first floor boasts an events space, hosting book clubs, author meet and greets, and even a burlesque show.

 Criminally Good Books is located at 14 Colliergate, York, YO1 8BP.

The Stripey Badger, Grassington

(Image: Instagram @thestripeybadger)

If you’re looking to browse the books and have a bite to eat, The Stripey Badger ticks both of those boxes.

An award-winning café and bookshop all rolled into one, it’s located in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales village of Grassington – or as All Creatures Great and Small reboot fans might know it, the fictious Darrowby.

The shop is filled with many different genres, including children’s books, and they regularly host open mic poetry nights, book clubs and more.

The Stripey Badger is located at 7 The Square, Grassington, BD23 5AQ.

Books For All, Harrogate

Books For All

Looks are deceptive with Books For All in Harrogate – while the shopfront gives the impression of being small, there’s actually three floors crammed with a vast array of second hand books.

First opened in 1998, the shop reports to be the oldest, and only, second hand bookstore in the town centre.

It’s estimated they have over 20,000 to choose from – alongside a selection of vinyl and CDs – but they’re always looking for new titles to add to their collection.

Books for All is located at 23A Commercial St, Harrogate, HG1 1UB.

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