Where to buy second-hand books in the UAE

A handful of bookshops across Dubai and Abu Dhabi are offering titles for as low as Dh5

Those looking for a steal can check these places out. Photo: Tom Hermans / Unsplash
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For literary thrifters, there's a certain magic to pre-loved books. Not only do they hold sentimental value afforded by past readers, but they can also often be kinder to the wallet.

Thankfully in the UAE, there's a thriving second-hand book scene. Whether you're an avid collector of books or a casual reader, you can avoid the new-release frenzy and dive into the world of gently-used literary gems.

Here are some thrift spots to check out.

Book Hero, Dubai

Book Hero is a popular option in the emirate, and is also known for its initiatives on education and animal welfare. Its flagship store in Oasis Centre, for example, hosts schoolbook swaps. Students and parents who want to exchange educational books, which they no longer need, can swap them for free.

They offer a variety of titles, with some starting as low as Dh5 apiece. From fiction to non-fiction, as well as manga, comics and coffee table books, there's a good chance Book Hero has the title you are looking for. They have a few locations across Dubai – including bookshops that double as cafes at Umm Suqeim Park and Dubai Investment Park.

Book Hero also retails its titles online.

Open daily, several timings; Oasis Centre, Dubai Sports City, Mudon Community Centre, Umm Suqeim Park, Dubai Investment Park; bookhero.ae

Thrift For Good

If books are just one of the items on your to-second-hand-buy list, then check out Thrift For Good. In either of the two charity shops across Dubai, you can find well-thumbed books alongside clothes and household items. Working in partnership with Gulf for Good, all profits go to support underprivileged children across the world. So, a perfectly good excuse to come home with more books than you bargained for – or drop some things in during your visit, too.

Open daily, 10am-10 pm. Golden Mile Galleria Building 8, The Palm Jumeirah, Times Square Centre; thriftforgood.org

Book World Trading, Dubai

Book World Trading has two locations in Dubai, and both are stocked with pre-loved titles across genres. The stores also offer limited-time promotions, as part of which books are available for as little as Dh1. They also have a read-and-return programme, as part of which readers can pick up a book from the shop for Dh20 and return it after reading. You'll receive 50 per cent of the total you paid on the original book to use as credit on your next purchase.

Open daily, 11am-9.30pm at Al Satwa, Saturday to Thursday; 11am-9.30pm, Friday, 2pm-9.30pm at Al Karama; @bookworldtrading on Instagram

House of Prose, Dubai

Billed as the UAE's oldest pre-loved bookstore, House of Prose has a wide variety of books and an inventory that changes regularly. From classic comics to popular fiction and self-help titles, the bookstore is a reliable source for bibliophiles looking for a good deal. If you're lucky, the new arrivals section can even have fairly new releases and limited-edition copies.

House of Prose has two branches in Dubai – the flagship store in Times Square Centre, as well as a new outlet in Discovery Gardens.

Open Sunday to Thursday, 10am-9.30pm, Friday to Saturday, 10am-10pm, Times Square Centre; daily, 10am-10pm, Discovery Gardens; houseofprose.ae

Reading 4 Animals, Dubai

Several times a month, Reading 4 Animals hosts an event around Dubai selling used books across genres – the website highlights everything from crime fiction to young adult novels – with proceeds supporting the welfare of strays in the region.

You can find out about their coming events on their website and learn about how to donate books.


Thrift Distribution & Books Trading, Abu Dhabi

If you are in Abu Dhabi, Thrift Distribution & Books Trading on Electra Street is the place to find some great bargains. The modest shop first opened in 2017, and was the only second-hand book store in the capital at the time. Titles here are in the tens of thousands now, so there's something for every genre.

Open Monday to Thursday and Saturday, 10am-10pm, Sunday and Friday, 5pm-10pm. Electra street, Al Danah, Zone 1, Abu Dhabi

Books R Us, Abu Dhabi

Located in Mohammed Bin Zayed City, Books R Us specialises in the non-fiction genre, with a vast collection of business and academic books. There are also several fiction titles, as well as children's books and other rare finds. Books here start as low as Dh10 apiece. Delivery is available every Sunday and Monday.

Open Saturday to Thursday, 11.30am-1pm, 2pm-9pm; Mohammad Bin Zayed City, ME 12; 054 400 0685

Updated: April 21, 2024, 2:02 PM