Oxford has some great bookshops, not surprisingly for a university town. Here is my survey of them.
This little Jericho bookstore specialises in 20th century fiction - divided into "European literature", "1900-1920", etc. - travel, poetry and music. At the back are secondhand history and music books. The fiction is nicely curated: how many other bookshops have a shelf of Eastern European literature, organised as such, and shelves just for the 1920s and 30s?
They also serve coffee and tea and cakes at a few tables at the front of the shop. Perhaps most importantly, they are open till 11pm!
The Last Bookshop
There used to be shops on St Aldates and Little Walton St, but now there's just one shop on New Inn Hall St, near Bonn Square.
The notable feature of The Last Bookshop is that every book is £2. Unlike most such discount bookshops, however, the stock - remainders and returns - is disproportionately taken from literary and specialist publishers, resulting in a high concentration of literature, academic works, and so forth. That makes this by far the best discount/remainder shop I've ever found. The Works (on Cornmarket) is no comparison at all, nor are even the better Sydney discount shops such as Basement Books.
Notable finds here include novels by Wolfgang Koeppen, W.F. Hermans, and Gert Ledig. Mostly they have stacks of the same title, but they have occasional "one off" titles - a nice hardcover copy of Elias Khoury's Yalo, for example, and a hardcover copy of Menezes and Mendeiro's An Introduction to Auction Theory.
This is Oxford's best known bookshop. Spread over four levels - and three shops, with separate Art/Poster and Music shops on the other side of Broad St - Blackwells has a great academic and specialist range. It's also spaciously laid out, with armchairs for reading scattered throughout, and has a Cafe Nero attached to it. (For Sydney-siders, Blackwells has as many books (100000+) as Abbeys (55000) and Gleebooks (?) combined, but in at least twice the space.)
There are plenty of 3-for-2 offers, even 2-for-1 classics, but also a few shelves of sale books: my finds here include Ancient Sukhothai for £1 and Israel's History and the History of Israel for £10. Upstairs is a small antiquarian and secondhand section.
The Oxford Waterstones has a good range of books, spread over several floors, and a nice layout, with show tables highlighting themes e.g. literature in translation, first novels. There's a Costa's Coffee attached. Waterstones is much better than any of the Australian chain bookstores (such as Dymocks or Angus and Robertsons).
The specialist Oxfam bookshops on St Giles and Turl St are both excellent. The people running them know how much books are worth, though, so real bargains are hard to come by. (In some cases a new copy from the Last Bookshop would be cheaper!)
The Inner Bookshop
This is our local - just around the corner. It's a "mind body spirit" specialist, which is not really my cup of tea, but it has a huge range, with some green and science books as well as everything you could imagine on UFOs, occultism, alternative medicine, non-Christian religions, etc, etc, including some scholarly works. I picked up The Flight From Science and Reason here - I'm surprised it didn't burst into flames on entry into the shop! - and Buddhism in the Modern World.
The Sobell Bookshop
This is a book specialist charity shop, with stock to match -
vastly less interesting than the Oxfam bookshops.
Most of the charity shops - and Oxford has many - have a bookshelf or two of books.
On Cowley Rd, the Oxfam shop gets some nice books in. I picked up one of the Clay Sanskrit Library volumes, the Gitagovinda, for £2 here. And the Age UK shop is decently curated. The Barnardos and Helen & Douglas House shops seem to collect less interesting books.
The Oxford University Press Bookshop
The OUP bookshop is always something of a disappointment. There are some excellent books, albeit rather expensive, but it's all a bit staid. Given the prices, it's hard to justify not just going to Amazon for OUP books.
St Philip's Books
St Philips's specialises in theology and church history, but also has some general history. It's a bit cramped and not that much fun to browse in, so I don't visit that often. The web site is easy to use, however.
Antiques on High
The front is dedicated to antiques, but the back rooms have quite a decent stock of books, mostly antiquarian/collectible.
A Christian bookshop.
The Book House
I haven't visited this Summertown bookshop yet.
What have I missed? And no, WH Smith doesn't count as a bookshop!
Along with the rest of the UK stores, the Borders in Oxford has closed, to be replaced by yet another Tesco. A number of other small secondhand bookshops that I remember from my previous visit in 2007 also appear to have gone.