Keep calm and read on with our guide to the best bookstores across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.
IRL bookstores have so much more to offer than its online counterparts. 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. For all of our fellow bookworms out there, keep scrolling for the best bookstores in Hong Kong.
Read more: Team Sassy’s Book Recommendations
The Best Bookstores In Hong Kong
Nestled in a side alley off Poho’s Tai Ping Shan Street, Mount Zero is a hidden gem. This bookstore 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 a cosy space on the second floor to read and relax. It’s a small but well-loved space, decorated with wooden panelling and vintage pieces, and makes a great refuge from the city. There may be 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
For a 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 find a wealth of CDs, DVDs, vinyls and movie posters here too. It’s the perfect place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon as the bookstore has its own cafe, and even an art-house cinema next door.
Read more: 10 Books We Can’t Wait to Read In 2021
With its oversized art books on display and animal-print couches, TASCHEN could almost be mistaken for an art gallery. The Tai Kwun bookstore 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.
Muse Art & Books
Hidden in the basement of Hotel Stage is Muse Art & Books, a treasure trove of artisanal books and rare titles. The bookstore 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.
Located on the ground floor of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, this artsy bookstore 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. TheBookshop also organises a host of events including author meet-and-greets, live music performances and creative workshops.
Kelly & Walsh
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. The bookstore also hosts author talks and signings, so be sure to look out for events on its Facebook page!
Lok Man Rare Books
Conveniently situated on Chancery Lane in Central, Lok Man Rare Books offers a vast array of rare reads, from valuable folios to first editions of modern and classical literature, children’s literature and more. The proprietor of this bookstore, Lorence Johnston, also offers visitors personal guidance and is readily accessible if you need help sourcing extremely rare books. Alongside being home to the most precious finds, it doubles as a venue for private cocktail parties and wine tasting events.
Flow Bookshop might be small, but it manages to cram in a formidable number of books in its modest space. With stacks of secondhand 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.
Hong Kong Book Centre
Part of the Swindon Group, Hong Kong Book Centre is located in a basement space on Des Voeux Road. This spacious bookstore has a massive selection of English fiction and literature. Chances are you’ll be able to find or order any book you need here. The bookstore also houses a good assortment of greeting cards, notebooks and stationery if you’re looking to stock up.
Bleak House Books
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 bookstore also sells used contemporary literature, stocking plenty of pre-loved paperbacks at astonishingly low prices. If you like your pages crisp and untouched, don’t worry – Bleak House stocks new books as well.
Read more: 10 Poetry Books To Read Now
With its Hong Kong flagship store in Causeway Bay spanning three floors and more than 40,000 square feet, Taiwanese lifestyle bookstore chain Eslite is a wonderland of printed offerings, with hundreds of thousands of titles to choose from, a good number of which are in English!
This Wan Chai bookstore stocks a variety of English and Chinese books, and boasts a particularly good social science section. It is also known to host book fairs and book launch conferences throughout the year, so stay tuned for upcoming events on its Facebook page.
VIBE Book and Music Shop
Your one-stop shop for all things entertainment, VIBE sells an eclectic mix of new and pre-loved books, alongside a collection of CDs, DVDs, Vinyl LPs, record turntables and more. The bookstore supports local artisans, authors and musicians by stocking their creations, and occasionally runs events to showcase their work.
Specialising in antique, first-edition, out-of-print books, Lily Bookshop is home to a rare collection of mostly English second-hand titles. Stocked with everything from autobiographies to cookbooks and classic novels, there will be plenty of titles you’ll want to take home from this independent bookstore.
Books & Co.
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.
Covering literature, history, art, design and illustration, this little-known bookstore is home to a tasteful collection of reads, with a dedicated “Local Collection” of independently published and locally distributed publications. Tucked away in cultural hotspot The Mills, you can also enjoy the nearby exhibition space, publishing workshop and restaurant. And if you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a live music performance or join a workshop while you’re there!
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 10 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, this is the place to go.
Joint Publishing (HK)
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 where you can sit and enjoy your book.
Read more: 10 Books To Read By The Pool This Summer
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on 2 July, 2014 and was most recently updated on August 2021. With thanks to Jessica Wai for her contribution.
Hero image courtesy of Kubrick via Instagram, image 1 courtesy of Mount Zero via Instagram, image 2 courtesy of The Muse via Instagram, image 3 courtesy of Lok Man Rare Books via Instagram, image 4 courtesy of Bleak House Books via Instagram, image 5 courtesy of VIBE Book & Music Shop via Instagram, image 6 courtesy of Book B via Instagram.