15 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2
This small bookshop manages to squeeze in a large amount of books into a fairly small space. The stock is a mixture of new and secondhand books of variable quality. Some of the secondhand books are a little overpriced (this is a problem of almost all secondhand books in Dublin) but there is a good range. The atmosphere is relaxed and homely with a music section adding an extra dimension (if a corner of a shop can be described as a dimension). The shop is well signposted as it has no shopfront, just a mysterious door enticing you inside. As it’s only a minute’s walk from Grafton Street you’ve no excuse not to drop in!
9 – Connolly Books
43 Essex Street, Dublin 2
Dublin’s “oldest radical bookshop” is a classic political bookshop. It’s stock of the leftwing variety but this encompasses a wider range of topics than you might imagine. The shop also stocks a range of political pamphlets to get your political passions roused. The shop is named after Ireland’s most famout socialist, James Connolly, who was executed following the 1916 Rising against British rule. The address is also home to the New Theate which host a wide range of theatre (including Dublin Fringe Festival performances) and other events.
8 – Eason’s
40 O’Connell Street, Dublin 1
Part of a chain of bookshops around Ireland, Eason & Son has been on the go for almost 130 years so they must be doing something right! In the pre-mobile phone days the Eason’s clock vied with Clery’s clock as a prime date night meeting spot. Eason’s now make more from non-book sales than they do from selling books. The shop has a good selection of books but probably too much space devoted to stationary for the true bibliophile. There’s also a Tower Records store and a café on the top floor.
7 – Charity Shops If you’re looking for cheap secondhand books then the charity shops are the way to go. The selection and quality varies vastly. Some shops have just a couple of shelves heaving with copies of the Da Vinci Code (this seems to have supplanted The Bridges of Madison County) and its ilk. There’s nothing quite so exciting as finding a book you really want, or didn’t realise you really wanted until you saw it just now, for a couple of euro. Oxfam Books have a couple of branches (on Parliament Street and in Rathmines) but can be slightly overpriced. The best selection I’ve found is in The Irish Cancer Society Shop in Rathmines (121 Lower Rathmines Road) and the prices start from as little about a euro. Of course, as well as finding a good book, your money is also going to a good cause.
6 – Discount Bookstores A relatively new phenomenon is the discount book store. They seem to be temporarily slotted into empty shopfronts while the landlords find somebody who can pay the rent they want. They usually have generic signage, a limited stock selction, and one member of staff. These shops are more for browsing as opposed to going in with a title in mind. However if you are happy to browse and pick up a couple of cheap books (average price is around €5) then they’re pretty good. The three I’ve noticed are on Liffey Street (at the corner of Bachelors Walk), on Lower Baggot Street, and on Dawson Street (near Hodges Figgis). 5 – Hodges Figgis 58 Dawson Street, Dublin 2 Hodges Figgis (which is owned by Waterstones) is probably the biggest bookshop in Dublin in a nice older style building. Unfortunately the Waterstones across the road closed a few years ago meaning the pleasure of browsing in two large bookshops a few metres apart has gone! Unlike Eason’s Hodges Figgis has stayed firmly focussed on books (and not stationary and magazines). Apparently there are over a million books in stock over three levels. I can usually be found in the excellent bargain basement. There’s also a café if you get thirsty after your shopping.