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Where to buy second-hand books in Hong Kong

By Gigi Wong 25 September 2019 | Last Updated 12 January 2024

Header image courtesy of Becca Tapert (via Unsplash)

Originally published by Gigi Wong. Last updated by Ashley Siu.

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.

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Photo: My Book Room

My Book Room

Situated in Prince Edward, My Book Room 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 Book Room, 79 Lai Chi Kok Road, Prince Edward | (+852) 6121 8222

Photo: Flow Bookshop

Flow Bookshop

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 recirculation effort in Hong Kong for 22 years.

After sharing its space with Lily Bookshop for many years, Flow Bookshop has moved and is now situated in a building one street away from its former location, so if you’re looking for a second-hand read, why not visit both shops in one go?

Flow Bookshop, 1A Wing Cheong Commercial Building, 19–25 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 9278 5664

Lily Bookshop. Photo: Flow Bookshop (via Facebook)

Lily Bookshop

Since Flow Bookshop moved to a new retail space, Lily Bookshop now solely occupies the once-shared location in Sheung Wan, but that doesn’t mean its collection of pre-loved books is any less impressive! Lily Bookshop offers antique, first-edition, and out-of-print books, and a large collection of second-hand English fiction and non-fiction. It also receives new supplies daily, and often updates its listings on Facebook, so check out the page from time to time to see if something catches your eye.

Lily Bookshop, Shop F–G, 1/F, Kai Fung Mansion, 189–205 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan | (+852) 6977 5833

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By Catharina Cheung 31 December 2019
Photo: Books & Co.

Books & Co.

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

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Spirit Book Store

Established in 1958, Spirit Book Store posits that knowledge will never be outdated—that’s why it has 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 stores in North Point and Wan Chai, it also offers door-to-door book 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

Spirit Book Store, 14 Wood Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2559 3913

Photo: Hau Yau Book Store

Hau Yau Book Store

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. Operating on the principle of being environmentally friendly, its staff can also come to you to pick up any books you want to sell—just call or text them at (+852) 9450 1271. Rest assured that all collected volumes that are then made ready for resale are hygienic, as they are thoroughly disinfected and cleaned before being put on the shelves.

Hau Yau Book Store, Shop 6, Kensington Mansion, 353 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun | (+852) 2803 2840

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By Book Depository Sponsored | 5 June 2020
Photo: The Book Cure

The Book Cure

With one boutique situated within the Plover Cove Road Market and one in the Tai Po Arts Centre, The Book Cure is a treasure trove for bookworms. Albeit rather cramped inside the wet market location, 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. Its newest branch is designed to resemble an art gallery, with plenty of room for displaying antique books and other artefacts. If Tai Po is a bit too far for you, The Book Cure also has an online shop for your reading needs.

The Book Cure, Shop F21, G/F, Plover Cove Road Market, Tai Po & Shop G04, Tai Po Arts Centre, 12 On Pong Road, Tai Po | (+852) 5392 3220

Photo: @jisaam.books (via Instagram)

Jisaam Books

Founded in 2019, this indie bookstore has both new and pre-loved books in stock at its Central and Yau Ma Tei locations. The Central branch is known for its cosy vibes, with volumes packed tightly on bookshelves and stacked in semi-organised piles next to chairs and cushions. In comparison, its more recent Yau Ma Tei location has a more modern look with its industrial interior design. We recommend visiting either spot in the late afternoon to enjoy the golden-hour glow, especially if you’re looking to take some photos of the vibey atmosphere. Although the books are primarily in Chinese, you can probably find a few English reads here and there.

Jisaam Books, Shop 4, 49–51A Gough Street, Central & 5/F, Nathan 562, 562 Nathan Road, Mong Kok | (+852) 9187 4624

Photo: @samkeebook (via Instagram)

Sam Kee Book Co.

Cat lovers are not going to want to miss this bookstore, for Sam Kee Book Co. is well known for its clowder of feline staff members keeping watch over its collection of second-hand books! Not only will they perch themselves right on top of books you’re reaching for, but they also like to lay smack dab in the middle of the aisle, or swish their tails across displayed QR codes (you’re not scanning those any time soon). So, if you’re looking to find your next read under the watchful eyes of furballs, this bookshop is worth a visit. However, keep your hands to yourself—none of the cats residing here particularly enjoy being touched, even if they tolerate the occasional phone camera being pointed at them. Sam Kee Book Co. stocks Chinese second-hand books alongside a small collection of English ones.

Sam Kee Book Co., Shop 19, B/F, King’s Centre, 193 King’s Road, North Point | (+852) 2578 5956

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Photo: @dionysus_books (via Instagram)

Dionysus Books

Contrary to its namesake, Dionysus Books doesn’t specialise in books about mythical figures, but it does sell reads revolving around history and literature. A fun fact about this bookshop is that most of its décor is collected and contributed by the Sai Kung community, giving it a warm and homely vibe. Like some other shops in this list, Dionysus Books mostly stocks volumes in Chinese.

Dionysus Books, G/F, 17 Sai Kung Tai Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 5110 4130

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Gigi Wong

Junior editor

From Hollywood blockbusters to indie flicks, Gigi loves just everything about films. Aside from rock & roll, she is also partial to jazz and vintage music. You can find her indulging in all sorts of books, eating out, discovering vinyl albums, and playing Blu-ray movies on her TV.

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