Get ready to “keep calm and read on” with our guide to the best bookstores in Hong Kong.
Bookstores have so much more to offer than online shops. You get immediate satisfaction as you browse the shelves of freshly stacked books, flip through those crisp pages with thumb and finger, take in that new book smell, and peruse stationery, pens, cute trinkets and slogan bookmarks. Despite the perpetual maze that is a Hong Kong shopping mall, English language bookstores aren’t as few and far between as you may think – and here’s a list of our favourite. For all of our fellow bookworms out there, keep scrolling for the best bookstores in Hong Kong.
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Covering literature, history, art, design and illustration, this little-known bookstore is home to a tasteful collection of reads, with a special “Local Collection” of independently published and locally distributed publications. Located in cultural hotspot The Mills, you can also enjoy the nearby exhibition space, publishing workshop and restaurant. And if luck is on your side, you might be able to catch a live music performance or join a workshop while you’re there!
For a beautiful, carefully-curated selection of books in an uber cool setting, head to Kubrick in Yau Ma Tei. This cute little bookstore has a range of art and design books, speciality magazines, novels and more. Kubrick highly values film, music and local culture, so you can a find a wealth of CDs and DVDs here too. It’s the perfect place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon as it has its own cafe. Around the corner you’ll find family-run boutiques, a fruit and veg wholesale market and even an art-house cinema. Kubrick’s creative, chilled-out atmosphere and friendly staff makes it one of our top picks of bookstores in Hong Kong.
Located on the ground floor of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, this store is more than just a “bookshop”. It stocks a range of English and Chinese books on fine art, culture, urban design & living, as well as affordable artworks, pottery, photo prints and more. The store also organises a host of events including author meet-and-greets, live music performances and calligraphy workshops.
Part of the Swindon Group, Hong Kong Book Centre is located in a basement space on Des Voeux Road. This spacious store has a massive selection of English fiction and literature. Because it is under Swindon, chances are you’ll be able to find or order any book you need here, making it one of the best bookstores on Hong Kong Island. The store also houses a good assortment of cards, notebooks and stationery if you’re looking to stock up.
With its massive art books on display and animal-print couches, TASCHEN could almost be mistaken for an art museum. Tucked away in Tai Kwun, the store in Hong Kong is its first (and only) location in Asia. TASCHEN exclusively sells the books it publishes, which mostly includes tomes on contemporary art. From photography to comics and fashion, TASCHEN might appeal especially to art buffs, but it caters to everyone. Whether you’re into art history or want to travel the world, TASCHEN probably has a book on it.
Hidden in the basement of Hotel Stage is Muse Art & Books, a treasure trove of artisanal books and rare titles. The store features a broad range of books, including a small section dedicated to Yau Ma Tei. If you have an hour or two to kill, why not sit down with your book in the adjoining cafe or one of its many reading tables? You can also visit Hotel Stage’s art gallery, which features the works of different local and international artists.
Nestled in a side alley off PoHo’s Tai Ping Shan Street, Mount Zero is a hidden gem. It houses a carefully-curated selection of Chinese and English books, plus a quirky assortment of trinkets, stationery and greeting cards. If you need a short break from the urban bustle, Mount Zero offers the company of books and a cosy space on the second floor to read and relax. It is a small but well-loved space, decorated with wooden panelling and vintage pieces, and makes a great refuge from the city. There are fewer English books here, but Mount Zero is still well worth a visit.
Mount Zero, Shop C, 6 Tai Ping Shan Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, www.instagram.com/mountzerobooks
A local favourite among booklovers in Hong Kong, Bleak House Books has become a community hub for literary events and readings. Although smaller than other bookstores around the city, it has amassed an immense collection of vintage paperbacks. The store also sells used contemporary literature, stocking plenty of vintage and used paperbacks at astonishingly low prices. If you like your pages crisp and untouched, don’t worry – Bleak House stocks new books as well. Beyond fiction, there’s also a diverse range of books in the humanities and social sciences.
Nestled in Wan Chai, this curated bookstore houses a select range of niche publications by independent authors and publishers from around the globe. Popular among local artists, the dimly lit store is small but stocks everything from art books to magazines, photo collections and reference books. You can also find a collection of records for sale featuring the owner’s favourite albums. It’s no surprise that the store also hosts occasional music gigs – stay tuned to the Facebook page for upcoming events.
Conveniently situated on Chancery Lane in Central, Lok Man Rare Books offers a vast array of rare reads, from first editions to valuable folios. It’s home to a wealth of unique riches – modern and classical literature, children’s literature, history and more. The proprietor, Lorence Johnston, also offers visitors personal guidance and is readily accessible if you need help sourcing extremely rare books. Alongside being Hong Kong’s premier destination for the most precious finds, it doubles as a venue for private cocktail parties and wine tasting events.
Spanning three floors and more than 40,000 square feet of Hysan Place in Causeway Bay, Eslite is a wonderland of printed offerings, with hundreds of thousands of titles to choose from, a good number of which are English language! Make sure to also check out its fourth and newest location in Olympian City, which boasts a design inspired by Tai Kok Tsui’s Cosmopolitan Dock.
flowBOOKS might be small, but it manages to cram in a formidable number of books in its modest space. With stacks of second-hand books reaching from floor to ceiling, flow is literally overflowing with books. The books may not be perfectly organised, but the bookstore has its own messy charm. If you love being surrounded by mounds of printed text, flow certainly fits the bill. What’s more, you’ll be able to find gems for as little as $40 here. From vintage classics to self-help books and textbooks, flow’s mission is simply to help these books find new readers.
Books & Co. is a quaint bookstore just a short walk from Sai Ying Pun’s MTR station. There is no shortage of choice here, with countless shelves of used books flowing over onto tables, the floor and even creeping up against the cashier! It has an especially fantastic selection of fiction, including mystery, fantasy and romance. Books & Co. also offers food and drinks, so once you’ve chosen your book, you can sit down with a cuppa and relax.
As bookstores in Hong Kong go, you can’t get better than Kelly & Walsh for all things art and culinary. This pick boasts an impressive and in-depth selection of titles, all housed in an intimate, boutique-style shop. From super chefs Gordon Ramsay and Ferran Adria, to seriously encyclopedic tomes by Hugh Jonson and Jancis Robinson, K&W’s cookery section goes above and beyond. The store also hosts author talks and signings, so be sure to look out for events on its Facebook page!
As one of the oldest bookstores in Hong Kong (established way back in 1985!), Bookazine is a go-to when you’re on the hunt for a new read. There are nine locations across the city, each offering a unique browsing experience. The stores stock a wide range of titles, in addition to a myriad of gifts (many of which are eco-friendly!). If you’re on the hunt for best sellers or last-minute birthday cards, its Lyndhurst Terrace location holds a treasure trove of trinkets.
With an impressive 14 locations across the city, we’re sure you’re no stranger to this local bookstore chain. On top of stocking all types of books, some branches also host book fairs and other cultural events. It’s also a great place to pick up stationery! If you’re looking to enjoy your book with a cup of tea, head to either the Wan Chai or Yuen Long locations which both have a small cafe attached to the store.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on 2 July, 2014 and was most recently updated on 25 September 2020. With thanks to Jessica Wai for her contribution.
Featured image courtesy of M_a_y_a via Getty, image 1 courtesy of Book B via Facebook, image 2 courtesy of TheBookshop via Facebook, image 3 courtesy of TASCHEN, image 4 courtesy of Mount Zero via Instagram, image 5 courtesy of MOSSES via Facebook, image 6 courtesy of Eslite via Instagram, image 7 courtesy of Books & Co. via Facebook, image 8 courtesy of Bookazine via Facebook.