shelves filled with books in a bookstore

What a Novel Idea! Our Favourite Vancouver Island Bookstores

There are few better things than curling up with a good book. Whether you’re into mysteries, biographies, fantasy or history, a new book can make even the rainiest days something to look forward to. There are lots of amazing bookstores on Vancouver Island, British Columbia that carry a wide range of subjects and specialties with friendly, knowledgeable staff. So whether you’re looking for something specific or just browsing, stocking up on your favourite genre or selecting gifts for family and friends, these are the best bookstores on the Island where you find your next adventure among the pages!

Bookstores in Victoria BC

Russell Books

747 Fort St #100, Victoria, BC V8W 3E9

Right downtown Victoria is the beloved Russell Books. Founded in a 300 square foot shop in 1961 in Montreal, Russell Books grew quickly into one of Montreal’s best places for second-hand, new and antiquarian in the city. With such amazing success, in 1991 founder Reg Russell opened a Victoria branch right downtown. As an independent, family-owned bookstore, family, community and the importance of books and literacy has always been at the heart of Russell Books. 

Munro’s Books

1108 Government St, Victoria, BC V8W 1Y2

​​In a stunning heritage building in the heart of downtown Victoria, Monro’s Books might be one of the most beautiful bookstores on the Island. While this landmark bookstore might be breathtaking today, Munro’s is a truly local labour of love. In 1963 Jim and Alice Munro (the Alice Munro of Canadian literary fame) set up a small, narrow shop on Yates Street and filled the shelves with new, contemporary forms of writing and art. From there, the Munro’s added more and more books of all kinds, moving locations to accommodate their growing business until eventually they landed in the beautiful location you can still find them today.

Bolen Books

1644 Hillside Ave #111, Victoria, BC V8T 2C5

At a whopping 20,000 square feet, Bolen Books is currently the largest single-location independent bookstore in Western Canada located in the Hillside Mall. Since 1975 Bolen has been a faithful general interest bookstore who now has impressively large sections dedicated to children’s books, science fiction, cooking, travel, fiction, mystery and more!

Bastion Books

14 Bastion Square, Victoria, BC V8W 1H9

Tucked away in the historic Bastion Square is Victoria’s go-to for vintage and contemporary books. With a great selection across genres, comfy chairs to relax in and warm, knowledgeable staff, Bastion Books is a must stop for every book-lover! 

James Bay Coffee and Books

143 Menzies St, Victoria, BC V8V 2G4

With an eclectic selection of books crammed on the shelves and piled high, this funky independent coffee/bookstore is a rare find. Stay for lunch, peruse the shelves and stop for tea leaf reading. There’s always something fun happening at this great neighbourhood hub!

Bookstores in Sidney BC

Beacon Books

2372 Beacon Ave W, Sidney, BC V8L 1X3

As you walk down Beacon Ave. in Sidney, you won’t be able to miss the striking, bright-red, Dutch door of Beacon Books. Specializing in a wide selection of first-edition, collectable, out-of-print, second-hand, signed, and rare books,  Beacon is a 4,000 square foot paradise for every bibliophile! 

Tanner’s Books

2436 Beacon Ave, Sidney, BC V8L 1X6

For 24 years, Tanner’s has been faithfully serving the little town of Sidney. Since it’s opening, Tanner’s has grown to be one of the best full-service bookstores on the Peninsula with everything from new releases and bestsellers to magazines and newspapers to cards, puzzles and even atlases! Plus, with over 50 categories of children’s, fiction, and non-fiction books, Tanner’s is a one-stop shop for you and anyone on your gift list. 

The Haunted Bookshop

9807 Third St, Sidney, BC V8L 3A6

Established in 1947, The Haunted Bookshop is Vancouver Island’s oldest bookshop. Packed with carefully curated rarities, out-of-print material, crowd pleasing paperbacks, and eye-catching ephemera, this is a bookstore that should be on every bibliophile’s list.

Galleon Books & Antiques

2506 Beacon Ave #106, Sidney, BC V8L 1Y2

If you love antiques and books, this is the bookseller for you! Specializing in non-fiction books with a focus on the history of BC, you’ll find incredible selections on First Nations history, military, exploration and art history plus antiquarian and collectible books. Here, you can also find beautifully displayed antiques and collectibles from serving ware to nautical ephemera and more.

Bookstores in the Cowichan Valley BC

Bucknucks Books

1400 Cowichan Bay Rd #47, Cobble Hill, BC V0R 1L0

As the largest, family-owned bookstore in the Cowichan Valley near Duncan, Bucknucks is the place to go for incredible second-hand books. With a passion for their community, literacy, access to books and the environment the owners created an environmentally sustainable business that allows people to get great quality books at affordable prices.

Bookstores in Parksville BC

Sea & Summit Bookshop 

280 Island Hwy E #102, Parksville, BC V9P 2H6

When Kristie and Kevin Lauer discovered that Mulberry Bush Bookstore in Parksville was for sale, Kristie leapt at the chance to fulfill her lifelong dream to become a bookstore owner. Since then, Sea & Summit has become one of the best independent bookstores in the area to find an incredible selection of new releases and bestsellers. If you’re needing a new book for your stay in Nanaimo or that new release that you’ve been dying to read, Sea & Summit is worth the short drive to Parksville!

Fireside Books

114 Middleton Ave, Parksville, BC V9P 2G8

Since 1993, Fireside Books in the heart of the little town of Parksville has been providing the community with an eclectic array of new, second-hand, vintage and signed books. With over 100,000 books to browse and an enormous selection of high-quality puzzles, this long-standing store in the heart of the community is sure to carry more than a few gems for you to find!. 

Bookstores in Courtenay BC

Laughing Oyster Bookshop

286 5th St, Courtenay, BC V9N 1J6

This charming, locally owned and operated bookstore has an extensive collection of books and a wide range of genres. Whether you’re looking for something specific to curl up with while you’re staying in the Comox Valley or if you need a recommendation, the incredible staff at Laughing Oyster are always happy to help.