Sedbergh Book Town

~ Welcome to England's Book Town in the Yorkshire Dales ~

"A Book Town is a small rural town or village in which second‑hand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated. Most Book Towns have developed in villages of historic interest or of scenic beauty."
– from the International Organisation of Book Towns website

Sedbergh Book Town Festival, Weekend of 5th, 6th, 7th October 2018 –
Guest author events, family book sessions, community collaborative writing, dinner and entertainment, craft sessions etc. Follow the Sedbergh Book Town Festival on Link to Book Festival Facebook page and Link to Book Festival Twitter page. Programmes are available at the Information Centre on Main Street and in some shops. See also the Events page on the Sedbergh Town Site.

Book Towns

Book towns were the brain‑child of book dealer and self-styled "King" of Hay‑on‑Wye, Richard Booth. In 1961 Hay became the first ever book town, and there are now well over twenty of them around the world.

Compared to Hay‑on‑Wye, most of the book towns that are to be found in Europe, South‑east Asia, North America and Australia are tiddlers. They tend to be small towns or villages located mostly in rural areas, and Sedbergh is no exception.


Anyone coming to Sedbergh expecting an "oop North" version of Hay‑on‑Wye, with a dish of tripe on the side, is going to be disappointed – and not just because the local butcher doesn't normally sell tripe.

There are only about eight bookshops in Sedbergh, depending on exactly what you count as a book shop. However, one of them is huge . . . . . .

Westwood Books, at the eastern end of Main Street is a family‑run enterprise that moved to Sedbergh from Hay‑on‑Wye in 2005. The former cinema is home to about 70,000 titles at any one time and it's the sort of place where browsers can lose all sense of time. It's worth a visit in its own right.

However, Westwood's is not Sedbergh's only attraction for bibliophiles. There are other smaller shops selling books in the town itself and at Farfield Mill Heritage Centre just a mile and a half away. Some are fairly general in their content, but there are also small‑scale specialists: Avril's Books at Farfield Mill (craft, textiles and applied arts), Sleepy Elephant (vintage children's books, local interest and guides), Sedbergh Information and Book Centre (18 different dealers represented, with specialisms including fine art, transport and sport).

And when your bibliophilic passion is spent – or you just need a little breather – remember that Sedbergh is also a rather nice little town, with cakes and ale and stunning views.

"First, a confession: I spend far too much on books. Which is why this idea of creating a Book Town in Sedbergh is a thoroughly bad idea. Until now my nearest Book Towns were Hay‑on‑Wye and Wigtown, which meant my obsessions were held in check by sheer distance. Now it's going to be far too easy. I can already hear my bank manager turning in his vault. I won't be able to resist. And there are thousands of other bibliophiles holding their heads in their hands as we speak. 'Not Sedbergh!' I hear them cry just before they get into their car and are drawn slowly but surely towards the Howgills."
– Eric Robson, writer, broadcaster and our patron

View List of Bookshops

Print List of Book Shops (PDF)

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