I find second-hand bookshops in London can fit on a scale with two extremes. On one side are bookshops so immaculately organised that book lovers might be afraid of taking books off shelves for fear of altering the bookseller’s vision. On the other side are bookshops so disheveled that you feel like you are exploring your grandma’s dusty attic.
Located underneath the Brunswick Centre near Russell Square station, Skoob Books falls somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum. I can best describe the bookshop as ‘organised chaos’. The books are grouped in key sections throughout the underground shop, and the titles are arranged in alphabetical order on the shelves (and many times on the floor too). They even have a stand on Saturdays within the Brunswick Centre.
The selection of books is numerous without being overwhelming (and if the shop doesn’t have your book, they can order it for you). Being located near many universities, Skoob also has a rich selection of titles not normally found in other second-hand bookshops: philosophy, science, economics (plus there’s a handy discount for students). But if you’re just looking for a good novel, there are plenty of those too.
The lack of windows and natural light might be a turn-off for some, but for me it just reinforces the feel of adventure, like Aladdin searching through the treasures of a magical literary cave. And if you need a break from browsing, there’s a piano in the middle of the shop that people are welcome to play.