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Red Lion Books

About Us

Proudly independent since 1978, when the Donaldsons first ‘set up shop’. Red Lion Books sits in the heart of Colchester, along the High Street. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming shopfront because inside there is a treasure trove of delights for all book lovers. There is a wide-ranging stock, an overnight order service, author events, signings and book clubs. Service comes mostly with knowledge and always with a smile.

Your Local Book Shop

We are here to serve you; sharing our enthusiasm for books and passion for reading. We like to see faces in places and encourage you to visit us but if this isn’t possible we can offer advice over the telephone or by emailing us@redlionbooks.co.uk. We can deliver worldwide – or if you live locally we can deliver books to you on foot or by bicycle.

Experienced Book Sellers

Sarah and Peter Donaldson have been hands on owners and booksellers since 1978 imparting their knowledge and experience onto customers and staff members.  Sarah’s passion is for children’s books and she is still very much involved with curating this section of the shop and advising local schools.  Peter has been active in the Bookseller’s Association at regional and national level. He has also been a trustee of the Essex book Festival since 2011. It has always been his firm belief that bricks and mortar shops have an important part to play in keeping local communities strong and healthy.

After well over 40 years at the helm Peter and Sarah are now taking a bit more of  back seat. Jo Coldwell, well known bookaholic and Colchester’s Book Club Queen, joined Red Lion Books in 2018. Now shop manager, she heads up a team of talented and experienced booksellers who have an unwavering commitment to give the best possible bookshop experience to each and every customer.

Contact Us

Need Advice? We're Experts At Pointing You In The Right Direction To Continue Reading Books You Love!

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Red Lion Books

Why Choose Us?

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 Award Winning Shop

Red Lion Books won the East of England Independent Bookshop of the Year Award for 2021.

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Overnight Ordering

Ask for our 24 hour order service. We can place special orders for over 400,000 titles which will be available for collection the very next day.

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Research and Advice

We can help you track down those hard to find titles and help guide you to find the book that is right for you.

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Meet Fellow Book Fans

Our author events and book clubs are a great way to meet other book loves from around Colchester.

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Get involved

Attend Our Events

Experienced & Friendly

Meet The Team

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Owner

Peter Donaldson

Peter remembers a childhood revolving around weekly trips to the local library, tellings off for taking books to the dinner table and reading by torchlight under the covers long after the parental ‘light out now’ call. Books were always going to figure strongly as he grew up but little did he know that bookselling would turn out to be a lifetime career. Over many years he has been involved with the Bookseller's Association at regional and national level and has also been a trustee of the Essex Book Festival since 2011. He still gets the same buzz out of opening a box of new titles that he did 40 plus years ago. It has always been his firm belief that bricks and mortar shops have an important part to play in keeping local communities strong and healthy.

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Owner

Sarah Donaldson

In many ways Sarah’s life has revolved around children ever since ……well ever since her own childhood. Her vision has always been to help make a world that gives every child the best chance to find their true place within it. Books are fun. Books are exciting. And books can also stretch the imagination. Reading can play such an important part in helping children imagine what kind of future might be possible. And Sarah’s bookselling mission has always been to make Red Lion Books children’s section the very best place for children to explore the world of books. She still oversees the children’s section and is on hand to advise school librarians and reading co-ordinators on school book orders

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Manager

Jo Coldwell

Jo Coldwell is a woman with a passion for books and a passion for people (among others). She is inexhaustible in finding creative ways in which to bring books and people together. In 2007 she started a book group amongst friends. There were soon too many people to fit into anyone’s house. Fortunately, another of Jo’s passions is for food and drink, so the group began meeting in local restaurants, achieving the perfect mix of people, books, food and wine! Thus was the Appetite Book Club born and has continued to grow, regularly inviting authors to attend and attracting 100 plus people each month. In 2017 Jo joined Red Lion Books and now as manager continues to bring her unique flair and personal touch to every corner of the shop.

many memories of going there as a child with my mum!

… the same afternoon (Friday) and was told they would have one by Monday and low and behold it had arrived by Monday! And it was a signed copy!! Fab little independent book shop, many memories of going there as a child with my mum!More

Josie Armstrong

They are also doing an amazing job in promoting children's books.

I highly recommend Colchester independent bookshop Red Lion Books. You can experience the good, old pleasure of browsing good, high quality books that on line retailers (or mass market bookstore) will never provide you. I have just purchased a beautiful book by the great French Historian Fernand Braudel "Out of Italy". I didn't know it had been recently translated. I highly hope that this bookshop will survive and thrive. It deserves it very much. They are also doing an amazing job in promoting children books. Let all get out and purchase books from good independent "brick and mortar" bookshops like the Red Lion Books. They are a great asset for this old, beautiful town, Essex and the whole of Britain

Eugenio Borrelli

get your kids inspired with the latest beautifully illustrated story books,

Great selection of books. Great place to find your next read and get your kids inspired with the latest beautifully illustrated story books, fascinating encyclopedias and teen page-turners.

Peter hulme

...they have put on numerous events online in what are difficult times.

It's the best book shop in Colchester by a country mile! They always have a huge selection of books in stock and this makes it a great place for discovering new titles, as well as discovering new topics. The staff have always been extremely friendly and helpful; during this year I believe they have put on numerous events online in what are difficult times. I cannot recommend this book shop enough!

Luke Rogers

local authors well represented

Great place, good independent book shop with local authors well represented

P J Boyles

The monthly bookclub is excellently run by Jo and great fun

This is a superb independent bookshop with helpful and knowledgeable staff. The monthly bookclub is excellently run by Jo and great fun, with interesting book choices.

Anne Kiely

they often have book launch deals and author meet events......

Red Lion Books is an indie shop with a great selection of books for the public. They're curated section is equally fantastic, and they often have book launch deals and author meet events that are worth looking out for too. If you're looking for book recommendations, this is the place. You get the impression here that they actually read the books.

Jessica Brown

I go there for my monthly book club, look forward to going!

Really friendly staff, wide variety of books to choose from, I go there for my monthly book club, look forward to going!

Sarah Jane whiten

proactive in the book community, supporting established and newly published authors alike.....

This is a lovely bookshop which stocks a large variety of books. The staff are really friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. It is very proactive in the book community, supporting established and newly published authors alike. Plenty of events to interest anyone who loves reading.

Ian Hornett

Excellent for local books....

Excellent for local books and a very good ordering service. Friendly staff.

Lindsay Wilson

Loved the Robin Ince event - more please!

Good at events

You are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Red Lion Bookshop in Colchester is an 'Aladdins cave..............

The Red Lion Bookshop in Colchester is an 'Aladdins cave' when it comes to books. The staff are knowledgeable, friendly and keen to help. They have books on a variety of topics, from literature and poetry to factual including books for children.

Alice Goss

Brilliant atmosphere, range of books and service

EXCELLENT BOOKSHOP! Brilliant atmosphere, range of books and service.

Elizabeth Jurd

This little High Street gem is a must!

A wonderful independent book shop, friendly and helpful staff and great choice of books. This little High Street gem is a must! Just stick your nose through the door and you'll be drawn into the engaging world of fact and fiction, fantasy and gardening, history and cricket or mythology and puzzles...... There's something for everyone.

Ian coldwell

Would give 6 stars if I could!

Absolutely excellent. Extremely knowledgeable staff who took the time to understand the kind of books my son enjoys and make some wonderful recommendations. Would give 6 stars if I could.

Ben Renow-Clarke

They are really very good at book matchmaking!

Amazing staff - knowledgeable, friendly and so welcoming. If you're not sure what to want to read, let them help you...they really are very good at book matchmaking!

Lisa Hart

,..supporting established and newly published authors alike

This is a lovely bookshop which stocks a large variety of books. The staff are really friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. It is very proactive in the book community, supporting established and newly published authors alike. Plenty of events to interest anyone who loves reading.

Ian Hornett

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Are You A Local Author?

We love to work with local authors.  Books that sell particularly well are non-fiction titles with a strong local interest.   In the first instance we ask authors to contact us by email rather than bringing their book into the shop.  Here is a guideline on getting your book into a High Street Bookshop

Getting-Your-Book-into-a-High-Street-Bookshop

This is a general guide written by the Bookseller’s  Association.   Red Lion Books has its own terms which include a ‘sale or return’ peiord of 6 months.  Please email us for full terms and conditions.

Buy Books

Our Best Sellers

Here are some of the books we can't stop recommending.

Ogilvy, Susan

£20.00

Harari, Yuval Noah, Casanave, David, Vandermeulen, David

£18.99

David Tazzyman

£12.99

Edward Brooke-Hitching

£25.00