While Manchester is best-known amongst media collectors as a vinyl cornucopia, where the walls of every Northern Quarter store that isn’t already an esteemed record shop are pock-marked with Egyptian synth-folk deep cuts, a blossoming indie literature scene is spreading across the city.

From Ancoats to Stockport town centre, here are eight of the best independent magazine stores in Greater Manchester. 

Catalog Bookshop, Oxford Road

With a mission statement aiming to “bring things to Manchester which can’t be found elsewhere in the city”, mobile bookseller Catalog delivers both in format and content. Operating out of a transformed Christiana bike, their archives include the best global speciality mags on everything from architecture to food, alongside beloved modern classics like i-D and Kinfolk

Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7DU
Queer Lit, Tib Street

Though it might come as no surprise that the NQ features heavily on this list, Manchester’s award-winning independent gay book store Queer Lit has only had a brick and mortar home on Tib Street for nine months. Founded on an ethos of faithfully representing the local LGBT+ community, Queer Lit stocks over 2,000 physical titles of the best intersectional literature, both fiction and non-fiction, alongside an array of cards, pins and clothes.

39 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LX
Village Books, Oldham Street

One street along, indie bookshop and not-for-profit art gallery Village trades in everything from world-famous heavy-hitters like Monocle and Highsnobiety to small-press zines and self-published literature from independent artists. Through hosting regular exhibitions, book launches and talks, Village continues to signal-boost underfunded international talent.

131 Oldham Street, M4 1LN
Rare Mags, Stockport

Doing what it says on the tin with interest, South Manchester’s Rare Mags exceeds in supplying the obscure and discontinued. The store serves coffee to go alongside a dizzying breadth of fiction and essay magazines, including cult favourites like Apartamento and Gentlewoman.

5 Lower Hillgate, Stockport SK1 1JQ
UNITOM, Stevenson Square

Back in the Northern Quarter, sat on the lip of the newly-pedestrianised Stevenson Square, UNITOM—a portmanteau of ‘universal’ and ‘tomorrow’—is a visual arts-oriented bookseller and print/editions gallery supplying Manchester with a “hand-picked selection of cultural inspiration”. The store features not just a revered collection of countercultural zines, but also exclusive prints and artists editions from the likes of Alex Giles and Skateroom as well as a discerning selection of lifestyle objects.

1a Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN
Chapter One Books, Lever Street

Upbeat, charming and unimposing, bookshop and cafe Chapter One grew from a family’s simple love for the timeless mixture of good books, good cake and good coffee. Heaving with herbal teas, milkshakes, toasted sandwiches and generous wedges of red velvet, Chapter One provides an impressively diverse collection of independent zines and books to complement a hazy afternoon tea.

Chatsworth House, 23 Lever St, Manchester M1 1BY
The Modernist, Port Street

Opening their physical store in 2019, The Modernist—itself an independent magazine—is the only bookshop and publication in Manchester specialising in architecture and design. Alongside refined zines and weighty tomes alike on transport, product design, typography and more, the store sells a range of household products – from Brutalist mugs to Bauhaus cushions. “Warm and endearingly nerdy”, The Modernist provides a sanctuary for one of Britain’s most misunderstood aesthetics.

58 Port St, Manchester M1 2EQ
Blackwells, Oxford Road

With a store for both neighbouring universities, set-text juggernaut Blackwell’s features on this list by virtue of the sheer multi-dimensional volume on offer in either of their Oxford Road branches. Where most come to sink their academic grant into thousand-page deconstructions of Britain’s retreat from empire, indie collectors can expect a surprising array of hidden treasures dotted among the shelves. 

University Green, 146 Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9GP
O! Peste Destroyed, Oldham Road

A slightly more laid-back project from the team behind the notorious White Hotel, Peste takes the shape of a bar, bookshop and record fair just off Great Ancoats Street, opposite Wing Yip supermarket.

A utopia of rare reads, books of varying sizes and topics cascade the walls — musical discographies, weird and wonderful travel handbooks, historical texts, niche wine guides, the collection is at times bizarre as it is fascinating.

0 Oldham Rd, New Cross, Manchester M4 5EB
Tue 19 Apr
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Thu 29 Feb 2024