From dusty second-hand havens to mammoth stores crammed with wall-to-wall page-turners, Dubai has some great bookshops
1 Book World Undoubtedly the best second-hand bookshop in Dubai, Book World in Satwa has an exceptionally vast collection of tomes that are ripe for rifling through (the walls are covered with sliding bookshelves that reveal yet more bookshelves behind them). ‘People come here to find books that they can’t find anywhere else in Dubai,’ says Leena, a partner in the business. We can easily believe it – the store even has a mezzanine level reminiscent of Being John Malkovich’s floor 7½ piled high with reads.
While you can’t haggle at Book World, Leena says she is happy to give bulk discounts. What’s more, if you buy a book and bring it back, you’re refunded half the price. Not only is this a great place to make some bargain discoveries, but we also like the odd giggle you get from the things that previous owners leave in books, such as this charming note: ‘Lots of love on your birthday, with love and dribble.’ Al Hudaiba Street (Plant Street), Satwa (04 349 1914)
2 Magrudy’s This chain’s most useful resource is being able to order books that aren’t in stock, meaning you can get hold of almost any title. There’s also an e-shop on the way, making the business of buying even easier, and prices are the cheapest we could find. Our only complaint is the lack of a graphic novel selection in-store – a bit behind the times when you consider that modern literary classics include the likes of Watchmen and Persepolis. How much to buy Time Out’s Big Five Beach Reads? Dhs229. Burjuman; Deira City Centre; Dubai Festival City; The Dubai Mall; Ibn Battuta; Jumeirah Beach Road (call centre: 04 344 4009)
3 Kinokuniya Stocking a reported half a million books, the Japanese chain’s first store in the Middle East is a beast: merely walking into this wonderland of printed pages will make any self-respecting lit lover dizzy with glee. The magazine section alone is the size of an ordinary bookshop, and the huge space (68,000 sq ft, to be precise) is divided into segments covering every subject you can think of. We love the Japanese literature section, which has introduced us to scores of new scribes, and the wide choice of graphic novels and comics.
Still, Kinokuniya isn’t perfect. First, the store is so massive that the task of finding one title among the throng can take hours. We were also bemused to discover that only three of Time Out’s Big Five books were in stock. But these quibbles aside, every bookish type in Dubai should make at least one pilgrimage here. How much to buy Time Out’s Big Five Beach Reads? Dhs242 for the three in stock. Some titles are only available in hardback. The Dubai Mall (04 434 0111)
4 Books Plus This small store tucked into a corner of Lamcy Plaza has a surprisingly rich array of titles. We spotted most of last year’s major novels, including those from Indian and Pakistani authors. A comprehensive magazine selection and competitive prices make this one of our favourite spots for book-buying. How much to buy Time Out’s Big Five Beach Reads? Dhs138 for the three in stock. Lamcy Plaza, Oud Metha (04 334 9514)
5 Jashanmal Book Store This is one of Dubai’s most easily navigable bookshops. Rather than divide everything into sections, there’s just a big ‘fiction’ area, with ‘romance’, ‘sci-fi’ and ‘classics’ sub-sections. Much easier. How much to buy Time Out’s Big Five Beach Reads? Dhs188 for the three in stock. One was only available in hardback, but was Dhs9 cheaper than the same title at Kinokuniya. Mall of the Emirates (04 340 6789); The Village Mall, Jumeirah (04 344 5770); Uptown Mirdif (04 288 8376)