Header image courtesy of Becca Tapert (via Unsplash)
If you know Hongkongers well enough, you’ll know they gravitate towards the “new new” when it comes to, well, anything, including literature. Considering that, there’s actually a considerable amount of second-hand shops that collect and sell old books. Don’t you just love it when the pages of a book are yellowed with age and its musty smell transports you to a distant land? Sometimes, you can even spot a scribble giving away a tiny secret about their previous owners. Metropolitans, let’s break away from the hustle for shiny new things for a while and take pleasure in browsing through these eclectic second-hand bookstores in Hong Kong.
Situated in Prince Edward, My Bookroom believes that worn-out second-hand books can also be valuable. Thus, they set out to keep them in circulation throughout the city so that more people can explore the charm of reading. The second-hand books they sell centre around humanities subjects, such as literature, social science, philosophy, and history—in both Chinese and English. There’s no fixed price for each one on sale, as they’re available for verbal bargains.
After you’ve surfed through the stacks of books and decide on a pile that you’d like to buy, simply go to the checkout counter and start haggling (of course, be reasonable when you make your offer)! On the other hand, they also provide a second-hand book collection service, in case you have used books to sell or donate.
My Bookroom, 79 Lai Chi Kok Road, Prince Edward | (+852) 6121 8222
Founded in 1997, Flow Bookshop is bursting with more than half a million books on its shelves in Sheung Wan and Lai Chi Kok. It carries and sells both old and new books in Chinese and English, encompassing some rare out-of-print and first editions. There are also magazines, CDs, DVDs, Blue-Rays, and comics for your delight. Offering a book collection service, owner Surdham Lam has contributed to the book re-circulation efforts in Hong Kong for 22 years.
Do note that their Sheung Wan location is shared with retail partner Lily Bookshop, so don’t be confused if you see both names written across the shopfront, or browse through collections that have differently labelled price tags!
Flow Bookshop, Shop G, 1/F, Kai Fung Mansion, 189–205 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan | (+852) 9278 5664
Tucked away in a residential area of Mid-Levels, Books & Co. is an ace combo of café and bookstore. Deploying a warm and vintage tone in its décor, it provides the ideal ambience for you to indulge in a good book while sipping a cup of coffee or tea. If you get a bit peckish during your reading sessions, they also offer light refreshments like cakes.
Book-wise, they sell a wide variety of second-hand books in Chinese, English, and a few other languages, including those written by local, independent writers. With every nook, cranny, and sky-high bookshelf crammed with overflowing volumes, you almost feel detached from the bustling city and reach a state of tranquillity and peacefulness in there.
Books & Co., 10 Park Road, Mid-Levels, Central | (+852) 2559 5199
Specialising in English-language books, BooksMart has over 10,000 new and second-hand books in stock—just about something for everyone. With genres spanning from best-selling fiction and cookbooks to biographies and textbooks, second-hand books are only sold at $20 to $50 per book—a true bargain.
Better still, if you’re too busy to visit their store in Kwai Fong to personally browse through their stock, you can shop online via their website. They ship to anywhere in Hong Kong with free delivery for orders over $250. If you’ve got English-language books to donate, remember to email the operators beforehand to tell them what books you’ll be bringing in.
BooksMart, Unit F2, 12/F, Block B, Marvel Industrial Building, 17–23 Kwai Fung Crescent, Kwai Fong | (+852) 2620 5035
Established in 1958, Spirit Book Store posits that knowledge will never be outdated. That’s why they’ve been promoting the culture of circulating second-hand books for over 50 years, so that knowledge and wisdom can be passed on from generation to generation. Instantly recognisable with its green bookshelves, the goods at Spirit Book Store are mainly in Chinese, with categories ranging from textbooks to literature. Aside from its store in North Point, it also offers door-to-door second-hand books collection services. You can find out more about it through its Whatsapp at (+852) 5546 3622.
Spirit Book Store, Shop 7, Kin Yip Mansion, 4 Java Road, North Point | (+852) 2385 7371
Located in the trendy Sai Ying Pun, Hau Yau Book Store specialises in selling Chinese second-hand books (although they also put some English ones on sale), ranging from reference books, textbooks, novels to travel, as well as CDs. Operated on an environmentally-friendly principle, they’ll also go to your doors to pick up any book you want to sell. Rest assured that they are hygienic, as all collected volumes are thoroughly disinfected and cleaned before they’re put on the shelves.
Hau Yau Book Store, Shop 6, Kensington Mansion, 353 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun | (+852) 2803 2840
Situated within the Plover Cove Road Market, the Book Cure is a treasure trove for bookworms. Albeit rather cramped inside the store, there are extensive second-hand volumes for you to choose from, including fiction, comics, reference books, and tomes about films. Sold at a low price—around $10 per book—most of the books there are in Chinese, with a small selection of English ones. The air-conditioned area holds some latest collections on sale at great discounts, not to mention the corner with free books you can take home with. You can also donate or resell your used books to the stall.
The Book Cure, F021, Plover Cove Road, Tai Po | (+852) 5392 3220
Bleak House Books is a charming indie bookshop that specialises in English books both new and used. One of our favourite weekend activities is spending a lazy afternoon among the shelves of Bleak House, adding new tomes to our collection and chatting with Albert, the American-Cantonese co-founder who’s always willing to recommend a good book or five. Apart from selling books, Bleak House Books also functions as a community space where book lovers and thinkers can meet, share ideas, and have spirited debates about various topics. Keep an eye out for their events, and see you there!
Bleak House Books, 27/F, Well Tech Centre, 9 Pat Tat Street, San Po Kong | (+852) 3705 0251