You’ve seen it before – sleek black shelves, a comforting smell, crisp new titles and a suspicious fondness for the eBook, Waterstones in St Andrews is about as mainstream as its Market Street location. It delivers an impressive miniature of the commercial bookstores we all know and love. You might go there to spend a voucher from your aunt after Christmas, but really the best thing about it is its stationery.
Topping & Co
This bookstore is everything that Waterstones wishes it was but never could be. New to St Andrews in 2014, Topping & Co is the perfect browsing experience, with friendly staff, plenty of light, atmospheric music, and complimentary tea and coffee. With a full programme of events throughout the year, and a Literary Festival in October, Topping & Co engages directly with the publishing industry to bring the best of the printed word to this tiny coastal town. It’s hard to remember the St Andrews literary scene without this haven for true bibliophiles. This is the one to bring your parents on a visit and stockpile your comfort reading for the rest of term. Have a chat with the lovely and passionate booksellers when they make your coffee – you just might learn something.
Sad news for those of you from the UK whose friends at Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Newcastle etc. boast about their Blackwell’s as the archetypal university bookshop. Selling both new and second-hand books geared towards students and the academic community as well as hosting fascinating author talks; Blackwell’s St Andrews is no such university bookstore. Located next to Rector’s Café just inside the Students’ Association, Blackwell’s will help you get a hold of that course book that you just can’t get elsewhere and will help to source obscure academic texts that are better off found in the library anyway. But do pop in – the staff are lovely and don’t get much footfall.
More than your average thrift store, Barnardo’s Books on Bell Street is the place to go for a thrifty course book haul and feel just a little more charitable in the process. I once found a copy of Trees of St Andrews that I never tire of flicking through and my 1948 edition of the Students’ Association Songbook is absolutely fascinating. Anyone who goes in will save money and if you look carefully, you will find an absolute gem.
Last but not least, a little something for the left-field among you. You’ll probably first hear of this place when that girl with the great hairstyle pushes past you on her way to a lecture, clipping you with her Bouquiniste tote bag and leaving you just a little bit cooler in her wake. Clinging onto the periphery of Market Street with its location just beyond Cromar’s, this little box of a shop is a paradise of second-hand and collectibles (read: if you shop here you will have the cutest editions of the course books in your tutorials – guaranteed). Few people know that the business began when the current owner’s father started selling second-hand and collectable books out of a cart alongside the fountain on Market Street, until its popularity was such that it needed a real premises. You’ll always leave Bouquiniste with something just a little special.
The Saint is looking for a new books editor – if you love all things bookish, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Arts & Culture Editor, Tiffany Black at firstname.lastname@example.org.