Right in the heart of studentsville, Headingley, the Oxfam bookshop provides a surprisingly comprehensive alternative for those of us who like a bargain and don't mind that the tomes are dog eared and covered in stains: the origin of which it is altogether best not to think about. Unlike other charity shops that just so happen to sell books, the Oxfam shop is solely devoted to the bookshop genre, and volumes are arranged by category in the same way, making it easy to find whatever you're looking for. Personally I find the prices in there a little steep considering the books are all second hand and donated freely - you can easily pay upwards of £4.99 - but the selection is excellent, considering, and you can satisfy your philanthropic leanings without a great deal of effort, which has to be a good thing.
Blackwells University Bookshop
Blackwells is an airy, spacious, comprehensive bookshop just opposite the University of Leeds and holds all your student necessities. You can buy stationary, cards and gift wrap as well as books, for those moments when you nip across to get something from your reading list and suddenly remember prehistoric archeology (i.e. get a text from a more responsible sibling) that yesterday was your gran's 83rd birthday. The books are arranged by subject (need to find something pertaining to Architecture and Built Environment? No problem, just head to the second floor) and there are piles of more popular course literature with helpful placards stating 'this book is on your reading list: English'. Of course, with all this space being utilized for study-specific literature, the normal fiction section is quite limited, but if you're a student I advise you to make Blackwells your first port of call for a set text.
Waterstones & Borders
The two main bookshops in the center of town, naturally, are Waterstones and Borders, and there seems little to separate the two. Borders is bigger and has a wider selection of cds and DVDs to complement its literature, but Waterstones is more intimate, cosier and has more of an Olde Worlde Booke Store feel to it. Both sell stationary, cards and board games. Both have coffee shops in store- Starbucks for Borders and Costa for Waterstones- perfect for taking a break with a book and watching the world hustle and bustle by. Waterstones is slightly off the beaten track (although still very much in the center of Leeds) so it tends to be quieter, which I prefer, whilst Borders is ever so slightly more convenient and happens to be directly opposite two of my favorite shoe shops.
In summary then: I love reading, I love buying books and I especially love it when I can follow that immediately with a caffeine hit. I do think it's a shame that there aren't more small independent bookshops in the city (or not that I have yet discovered, at any rate), but if I return from any outing with a new novel tucked under my arm, I'm all smiles.