Dubai’s bibliophiles are spoilt for choice when it comes to satisfying their cravings for good literature, be it the latest best seller or a classic read. From mega bookstore chains with wall-to-wall page turners to hidden secondhand shops crammed with unusual finds, book lovers can find any and every book they are looking for.
If the price of a brand new book is too steep for you, there are many smaller secondhand shops where you can get books for considerably lower prices if you don’t mind a slightly dog-eared copy.
Below we take a look at some of the literary havens Dubai has to offer.
Magrudy’s, several locations
A family-run business, Magrudy’s opened its doors to Dubai in 1975 and since then has built up a customer base of loyal customers, who have shopped there for years as well as new clients who love the knowledgeable staff and the great books on offer.
Although children’s books, toys and school supplies were their initial bread and butter, Magrudy’s has evolved into much more than just a bookstore, playing an active role in community life by tying up with local schools to encourage reading amongst local as well as international children and running book clubs inviting authors for book signings.
Keeping in mind the needs of the local community, their fantastic selection of books (which has evolved from children’s books to a wide array of literature) is complemented by a large selection of toys, cards, stationery and arts and crafts supplies for all to enjoy. A list of their stores can be found here.
Kinokuniya, Dubai Mall
This Japanese book giant with stores in several countries across the globe is now here in Dubai with a massive 68,000 sqft store in the Dubai Mall packed with over half-a-million books and thousands of magazines in several languages.
Kinokuniya will set any literature lover’s heart flipping with glee at the organized book sections on practically any subject you can think of. Their Japanese literature section offers scores of new novels, comics and scribes for those looking for novelty reads.
They also, from time to time, hold book signings, comic art demonstrations and language learning workshops as part of a wider outreach program. The only downside to this mega-store is that it is so massive that it could take hours to browse through the collections on offer.
Book World, Satwa
One of the city’s best kept secrets, Book World is discreetly tucked away into one of Satwa’s by-lanes. But don’t be fooled by its location; the store is crammed with floor-to-ceiling shelves of literary wonders. Shelves slide across to reveal even more books, which range in condition from almost brand new to about-to-fall-apart and are priced accordingly.
You can find a book for as low as Dhs 7; books bought from and returned to the store receive a 50% refund so this is a great place to trade books. A favorite hangout for literature lovers, this store is not the most meticulously organized with encyclopedias sharing shelf space with romance novels and tarot-reading guides, so plan on spending plenty of time if you are browsing for a particular title.
House of Prose, Jumeirah Plaza
Owned by 65 year old American, Mike McGinley, the tales surrounding this popular second hand bookshop are as fascinating as some of the prints it stocks. Completing over two decades in the city, the biggest advantage of this jewel is in its competitive pricing and depth of variety of prints.
You can find everything from cookbooks, science fiction books, self-healing and self-help books to crime, travel and humour prints, all for throwaway prices. The store also offers a buy back policy where returned books are bought back at a 50% price. House of Prose has bargain boxes in which people can buy books for Dhs 3 or three books by the same author for Dhs 35.
Book ‘n’ Bean, Ace Hardware Store
An off-shoot of the House of Prose store, this cozy little store is oddly located inside a large hardware store. Offering a reasonably sized collection of books, Book ‘n’ bean additionally offers a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi where you can sit, enjoy a cup of coffee and decide on which book you’d like to buy next.
Books are arranged alphabetically by author name and most are in very good condition. Every purchase, be it a cup of coffee or a book, earns you a loyalty card; nine cups of coffee or books purchased will earn you a free book. The return of second hand books in good condition, purchased from the store will get you 50% of the purchase price.
Books Plus, Lamcy Plaza
Tucked away into a corner of Lamcy Plaza, one of Dubai’s older shopping malls, Books Plus offers a surprisingly varied array of literature both m fiction and non-fiction. The store’s link-up with the UK’s largest wholesaler of books, Gardeners, allows Books Plus to order any British book in print, free of additional cost, delivered within 14 to 21 days. Although they specialize in children’s books and fiction novels, they also offer a great variety of other products including magazines, DVDs, CDs, gifts and cards.
Jashanmal Book store, several locations
A part of the Jashanmal Group, Jashanmal Bookstore opened their first store in Bahrain in 1995 and has never looked back since. You may not find that rare print you are looking for here, but these stores are easily navigable with a large ‘fiction’ section divided into sub-sections like ‘classics’, ‘romance’ and ‘sci-fi’. Not the ideal location for that hard-to-find book, but if you are looking for the latest bestseller you are very likely to find it here.
A treasure trove for young readers of all ages, Bookworm’s narrow aisles are lined with shelves full of story tapes, toys and brightly colored books guaranteed to capture the fancy of even the most hesitant reader. Thursday mornings are a special treat with storytelling in an Arabian tent complete with fairy lights. Bean bags are scattered around the tent to ensure that listeners can make themselves comfortable for the next hour.