10 Independent Book & Magazine Stores to Support Instead of Amazon

With the announcement that Manchester's beloved Magma bookstore will shut its doors for good after twenty years of trading, our editor Tori West has compiled a list of her favourite book and magazine stores across the United Kingdom to support this Christmas and Hanukkah.

Magma MCR’s closing announcement came with a very clear message. “I’ll close by saying… Avoid shopping with Amazon! Avoid shopping with bookshop.org! Shop local. Buy from independent retail. Support the arts. Cherish the shops you love! You’ll miss us when we’re gone.” It’s true, we take our favourite independent shops for granted only to mourn their loss when it’s too late.

The sad news was reminiscent of the closure of one of our late stockists, Soho’s legendary Wardour News, that shut its doors permanently in 2018. The owners claimed it was another victim of gentrification. Around the same time, on the newsstand’s neighbouring Brewer Street, a vintage magazine store was also replaced by Fiorucci. Following Wardour News’ announcement, there was an outpour of despair not only from magazine lovers but also from prominent members of the publishing and fashion industry. Vogue published an article with tributes from fashion magazine editors, including Dazed & Confused’s creator Jefferson Hack recounting how he’d stuffed early editions of his magazine into its racks without permission.

Magma MCR’s ‘You’ll miss us when we’re gone’ caption is now etched in my mind.

For me, when BRICKS was a tiny independent publication just over a year old, I was battling media giants for credibility. One of my absolute career highlights was receiving an email from Wardour News’ owner, requesting to be one of our stockists. Heartbroken over its closure, I hoped this didn’t happen to any more of our stockists or go-to bookstores and newsagents. Fast forward to 2020 and unfortunately, as publishing lovers, we haven’t learned our lesson. Perhaps if we cherished these stores rather than buying our books so conveniently on Amazon, perhaps Magma Manchester would still be here.

The now closed Papersmiths in Bristol’s Clifton Village

In August, another one of my go-to magazine and bookstores shut while I was studying at University. Bristol’s much-loved Papersmiths in Clifton Village. I used to visit the store almost every Sunday to find inspiration to set up BRICKS.

The sad truth is that the publishing industry was struggling before the COVID-19 pandemic not only thanks to gentrification and rising rental costs, but also because of Amazon. Since it’s launch in 1994, figures from the Booksellers Association show that the UK and Ireland have lost more than 1,000 independent bookshops since 1995. These spaces are much-needed meccas for thousands of students, creatives and book-lovers alike who take a regular pilgrimage to stock up on the latest editions of magazines and books, just like myself when I set up this publication. If I didn’t have access to these bookstores, I probably would never found the inspiration to set up BRICKS.

Growing up in a very small town, my local newsagents in Caerphilly, Wales (which has now also shut down) was the only place I had access to alternative narratives and communication.

Now, more than ever, Independent book and magazines stores need our support. In many cases, due to accessibility (perhaps both before and beyond COVID-19), Amazon can’t be avoided. But if you’re financially able and it’s safe to do so, please try and visit one of these stores this festive season, or purchase from their online website instead. Many of them offer “Pay It Forward” services, carefully curated subscription services and worldwide shipping.

With Magma’s “You’ll miss us when we’re gone” caption now permanently etched in my mind, here are some fo the best UK-based. independent magazine and bookstores to support this festive season.

Ripe Studio in Glasgow

1. Ripe Studio – Glasgow

A proud BRICKS stockist, Ripe Studio in Glasgow boats an impressive hand-curated selection of international fashion, art and music publications. Housed in Glasgow’s Barras Market, its owner Linda McIntosh, a self-proclaimed magazine lover, set up the store inspired by her visits to bookstores in Paris.

Barras Market, Moncur St, Glasgow G40 2SB, Open Sat-Sun, 11am–4pm
DM on Instagram for online orders – posted / bike deliveries on Mondays

2. Paned o Gê – Cardiff

Wales’ Queer bookshop, Paned o Gê — which rhymes with the Welsh ‘paned o te’ (cup of tea) — opened this year.  The store, is a “social enterprise designed to highlight, promote and celebrate LGBTQ+ and Welsh talent and creators”. Mainly operating online, their goal is to raise enough money to buy a commercial property that will become a much-needed hub for the queer community in Cardiff. They also run a digital community book club #QueerasBooks, which you can join here.

Every Saturday, Paned o Gê sells at Cardiff’s Indie Superstore at Canton’s Corperation Yard

3. Libreria Bookstore – East London

In the heart of Shoreditch, stepping into Libreria is like stepping into a literature infinity-space thanks to their beautiful ceiling and wall mirrors. This magical bookstore needs to raise £25,000 to help cover their rent and utility bills during lockdowns to help stay open. You can donate to their GoFund me here. To help with their fundraising, Libreria opened a monthly subscription service, members will receive a handpicked book every month delivered to their door, a perfect gift for any book-lover this Christmas.

Libreria Bookstore, 65 Hanbury St, Spitalfields, London E1 5JP

4. Magalleria – Bath

Tucked away on a hill in Bath’s town centre is Magalleria, established by Daniel McCabe and Susan Greenwood. Open since 2015, they stock over 1,500 magazine titles across the globe in the physical store and about 750 titles on the online store. As well as current issues, they also sell an impressive collection of back issues.

22A Broad St, Bath BA1 5LN

5. Rare Mags – Stockport

This independent magazine and book shop based in Stockport specialises in “hard to find international magazine titles”. They also stock a carefully curated range of fiction and non-fiction books from independent publishers. On their website, they offer a six or twelve-month subscription service of hand-picked magazine titles delivered straight to your door — perfect for those who want to discover new periodicals!

Tues – Sat 10am – 6pm, Sun 11am – 5pm

Rare Mags shopfront in Stockport

6. The Bookish Type – Leeds

The Bookish Type is a queer indie bookshop in Leeds that sells a range of queer literature including novels, zines, children’s books, YA, memoirs, non-fiction and graphic novels. “A queer bookshop is a community bookshop and we want to bring people together, particularly different generations of bookish types,” reads their website. As well as supporting in-store and online, customers can purchase gift cards for the festive season. There’s also a “Pay it Forward” scheme to help out any queers who are low on funds and would love a book!

58 Merrion Centre (upstairs) LS2 8NG, Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 AM -6 PM

7. Magazine Brighton – Brighton

A must stop visit for everyone in Brighton, this small store boasts a collection of hundreds of titles from across the world. “In Brighton, Saturday mornings were spent with two shelves of indie magazines in the Borders store in Churchill Square. And then, they closed. Luckily, we had a little money that let us do something a little crazy. So, we did and here it is,” their owner Martin explains.

22 Trafalgar Street, Brighton, BN1 4EQ

Magazine Brighton

8. Village – Leeds

This beautiful bookshop in the heart of Leeds also supports a not-for-profit gallery space upstrairs. Through regular exhibitions, book launches, and artist talks, Village aims to promote work from talented emerging artists and photographers within the city, and provide a platform to showcase work by established artists from further afield.

3 Thorntons Arcade, Leeds LS1 6LQ

Village Bookstore in Leeds

9. La Biblioteka – Sheffield

Print-lover Alex Maxwell created La Biblioteka in response to the independent magazine boom which, until its arrival in 2015, the city was missing out on. La Bibiloteka stocks both magazines and a selection of books and if you can’t make the trip to Sheffield, fear not! They also ship worldwide via their online store.

Kommune, Castle House, Sheffield, S3 8LN

10. The Feminist Bookshop – Brighton

Another gem in seaside Brighton, The Feminist Bookshop seeks to support and promote self-identifying female and non-binary writers. The shop opened in November 2019 following a successful crowdfunding campaign and they also run a plant-based cafe. “The idea is to build a community space, encouraging people to come together in a fun, open space for dialogue, discussion and debate.” During COVID, they’re also offering a click and collect service if you would like to shop online and collect your order. 

48 Upper North Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 3FH

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