Looking to buy books in Kenya on a budget can be quite a tall order. Are you still looking for where to get specific books in Kenya? Especially books by Kenyan authors, or general African literature? Or are you still sampling all of them out as you decide? Well, here is an easy way to cut your learning process in half.
Where to buy affordable books in Kenya
I like to buy my books physically, mostly because I love the feeling of being next to so many books. Most times I will plan out my book run but sometimes I just impulse buy them. This behavior always dismantles my monthly budget so I have found a book buying system that works. This list contains 8 sites to buy affordable books in Kenya. I will compare the price of one book in all of these sites for perspective.
Text Book Centre – Convenient locations
Founded in 1964 by M J Rughani and Mr. S V Shah, Text Book Centre is one of the largest book stores in Africa. Over time, the store has opened up other branches both in Kenya and Africa in general. Popularly referred to as TBC, Text Book Centre is also the place to go for stationery, PCs and other office supplies.
What makes TBC the pioneer is that it’s basically a one-stop shop for all things educational. The Sarit Branch, from which I’ve bought books such as Dance of The Jakaranda, Wuthering Heights and The Girl on the Train is perfect for family book shopping. You can find most Kenyan books or books by Kenyan authors here.
It has two stores where your kids can pick out their schools’ supplies as you pick your favorite novels in the other store. The service is friendly but they will actually let you sit as you wait for your family to finish shipping. How cool is that? They also sell eBooks via their official website.
Contact Text Book Center; Locations
Text Book Centre Village market, Garden city, Text Book Centre Two Rivers Mall, Text Book Centre Thika Road Mall, Text Book Centre The Hub, Text Book Centre Galleria, Text Book Centre Industrial Area, Text Book Center Junction, Text Book Centre Kijabe Street.
Website – textbookcentre.com
Contact – +254730735218
Facebook – Text Book Centre
Kintu- Ksh 1250
RafuBooks- buy Second-hand books in Kenya
This new entrant into the market is one of the most engaging book stores on Twitter. This online bookshop in Kenya only sells hard copy books. Currently, they do not have other products on their site. Rafubooks.com was created to promote the reading culture. They promise 24hrs delivery with most being done on the same day the order was placed. Countrywide deliveries are carried out the following day after you place your order.
The best thing about Rafu Books is that they also sell secondhand books in Kenya. Any book that is marked as used is essentially at a markup but still in good condition. This would be the perfect chance to get books such as Kintu by Jeniffer Nasubuga or Michelle Obama’s Becoming.
They also have amazing offers such as discounts depending on the number of books you buy. Rafu also conducts a lot of giveaways such as using their newsletter. Sign up to their newsletter on their official website or follow them on Twitter to get the chance to win.
Location – This online bookshop has no physical walk-in store.
Website – rafubooks.com
Phone – +254718130518
Twitter – @rafubooks
Price of Kintu- 1200
Prestige bookshop – buy rare books in Nairobi
Prestige Bookshop is the go-to book shop in Kenya if you want to find the rarest books. Prestige bookshop has been operational for more than 50 years. With only one store in Nairobi CBD, it is impressive that Thambo Mbeki and Jim Carter have visited the store.
This is the perfect book store if you are looking for rare books in Kenya. You have a better chance of getting books that are out of stock here. However, their most impressive feature is their ‘Request for a book’ option. You can literally order a book that is not currently available. This is perfect for first edition books, sequels or in the season books.
Location- Mama Ngina Street, Prudential Building, Landmark iMax
Contact – +254 707-660-164, +254 20-2223515
Price of Kintu – Ksh 1320
The Magunga bookstore – African Literature
Founded as the Magunga Bookstore by Magunga Williams, the brain behind 2018’s BAKE winner, it was later changed to Rugano books. This happened when Magunga partnered with David Mabiria, the tech guru who founded Magazine Reel and Abigail Arunga who runs logistics, social media and customer service.
Magunga sound familiar? You probably know the blog magunga.com more, that is how I actually knew about the book store. Rugano Books sells books written by authors of African descent. If you are looking to expand your African reading list through books by African authors or books about Africa, this is your plug.
Location – Rugano Books has no physical location
Phone – +2547031380389
Price of Kintu – Ksh 1350, out of stock
Savani’s Book Centre Ltd – Affordable Text Books
This is one of the most popular book shops in Kenya for students. I bought countless of books here while in high school. This one time, my high school had a book drive where each student was assigned a book to buy over the holiday. After walking into a lot of book stores in Nakuru, I finally found assigned book at Savani’s.
If it is in the curriculum you will most likely find it here. Their age appropriate categories are also very appropriate and convenient. If you are into art, you will find art supplies and books at affordable prices in this book shop. Looking for primary textbooks, medical books, technical books, high school books at an affordable price? This is your shop. To buy more specific university course books try UNES University Bookstore.
Needless to say, I haven’t been there since high school. Mostly because I changed the books I prefer but also the economist in me never bought a single course book for my degree studies. Lame? Lol, I cannot be the only one, surely. If you bought a course book for your undergraduate studies in a Kenyan university drop me a comment
Location – Savani’s Book Centre Building, Latema Rd, Nairobi
Website- non-existent, found on Yellow Pages
Phone – +254722399333
Price of Kintu – unavailable
Nuria Books Store
Established in 2015, Nuria prides itself in being one of the most forward-thinking online book stores. Since it’s establishment, Nuria book store has witnessed immense growth in the Kenyan book market.
If you want to buy inspirational, self-help, spiritual and business management books in Kenya then visit Nuria. They also sell non-fiction and fiction books and a whole category of kid and teen appropriate books.
Website – https://www.nuria.co.ke
Contact – +254729829697
Bookstop – Free Bookmarks
My mom has always had this amazing bookmark that I always liked (I haven’t seen it in a while). But I remember it because it was one of the bookmarks I saw that I never understood. Until recently when I realized BookStop is actually a book shop’s name. You get a bookmark with every buy.
Location- Yaya Center, 2nd Floor, Argwings Kodhek Road
Website- non-existent, listed on Yellow Pages
Phone – +254722520160
Price of Kintu – unavailable
Street Vendors – Cheapest Books Nairobi
You know how girls are always admiring shoes on the streets? Well, my obsession is books, I literally see them everywhere. Half my books are actually from book vendors in Nairobi. My favorite buys were A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
Other notable buys are Memoirs of a Geisha the Alyson Noel sequel and a book by R.L Stine. I will admit, I keep adding to this list faster than I can read. At any given time I always have a list of books to be on the lookout for as I roam Nairobi.
Location – Nairobi CBD, any major town
Phone- find your own book plug
Price of Kintu – bargain
Book Fairs and Events – Book bargains and Christian Books
I included this option because it is not a reliable option. As much as you can get very affordable books during events such as the 21st Nairobi International Book Fair, you cannot wait all year to get your books. However, if you are constantly asking where to buy Christian books in Kenya, then this is the event.
Publishers literally have clearance sales during this event. I am not much of a Christian book reader but if I was I would have a pretty decent collection from the event last year. Christian books were retailing for a dollar. I ended up buying Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo– a book I have to reread.
Price of Kintu – bargain
Buy Books Online Kenya
I do not prefer to buy books online. I like picking them up at their walk-in stores. But in the instance where you want to buy books online in Kenya then your best options are;
- RafuBooks – a purely online store that sells hard copies only; both new and used.
- Amazon – they ship to Kenya. If you are looking to buy international books in Kenya that are rare, try Amazon. Factor in the shipping fee in your purchase price.
- Jumia – I do not have a good relationship with Jumia, at all. They actually put me off shopping. But I suppose their books should be in good condition.
Buy eBooks in Kenya
Text Book Center sells ebooks on their site too. If you would rather have an online version of a book, then that is your best bet.
With this list, you now have 8 options on when where and how to buy books in Kenya. Avoid overspending by trying to stick to your budget as much as possible. A trick that works for me is buying a book actually like from a bookshop every month. I then buy a few from the street and a random one.