Spinning your favourite vinyl albums on your cherished turntable system may be the best way to enjoy the format, but like any hobby, great pleasure can be gained from sitting back in your comfy chair and reading about it too.
In its 90-year history, many words have been penned on the vinyl LP, both for educational and entertainment purposes, from in-depth studies of its evolution to chronicles by avid record collectors.
Below is a list of recommended books about vinyl from the What Hi-Fi? team, spanning those on record collecting, celebrity travelogues, turntable brand bibles and even crime fiction novels...
Tim Book Two: Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco (2016)
For his second book (which follows his entertainingly effusive memoir, Telling Stories), The Charlatans' frontman Tim Burgess channels his life-long passion for music into a unique vinyl hunt that sees him visit record stores across the world.
Having asked fellow musicians, such as David Lynch and Johnny Marr, to pick a record that means a lot to them, Burgess sets off on a mission to find them as he travels the globe. He chronicles his experiences and the people he meets in the record stores along the way.
Burgess's indisputable enthusiasm for music is laid bare, elevating the albums he discusses and the tales he tells of his journey. A thoroughly entertaining read, and, as we found, a great way to discover some new music to serve as your accompaniment.
- See Tim Book Two by Tim Burgess on Amazon (opens in new tab)
Dust & Grooves: Adventures In Record Collecting (2014)
A feast for vinyl junkies that truly embraces what it means to be a collector, Dust & Grooves, by professional photographer Eilon Paz, takes us into the hallowed record rooms of over 150 musicians, DJs, producers, dealers and enthusiasts. Questlove Gomez, Gilles Peterson and Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) make the cut, as Paz interviews the passionate inhabitants about their vinyl collections.
Words aside, the book's pages and pages of stunning, full-length photographs are worth leafing through alone – a perfect visual aid to an afternoon's vinyl session. Prepare to turn green with envy, though.
- See Dust & Grooves by Eilon Paz on Amazon (opens in new tab)
Vinyl Manual: How to get the best from your vinyl records and kit (2017)
The Haynes guide to vinyl from two fanatics of the format – music freelance writer Matt Anniss and journalist Patrick Fuller (formerly of What Hi-Fi?) – is, as you'd expect, an A-to-Z introduction of records and turntables (there's a sizeable section on DJ equipment and techniques, too).
From how to choose and set up an audio system (from turntable to speakers), how to build and curate a record collection, what to look out for when buying, the basics around the technology and its evolution through the ages – it's all here.
An ideal handbook for vinyl newbies, though we're sure life-long vinyl fans will find plenty of interest, too.
- See Vinyl Manual by Matt Anniss and Patrick Fuller on Amazon (opens in new tab)
Hit Factories: a Journey Through the Industrial Cities of British Pop (2019)
Upon discovering a derelict RCA record pressing plant on the A1 near Gateshead, North East England, Karl Whitney pockets four of the factory's old floor tiles while he imagines David Bowie stepping across them when visiting the plant to sign his first record deal. Those floor tiles became Whitney's launch pad for an exploration of the industrial cities of British pop music and the sounds and people that shaped them.
For vinyl lovers, and anyone else interested in the music industry's fluctuating grip on the physical product, this unique travelogue largely avoids the well-documented London music scene and instead sheds light on the sounds of Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, Birmingham, Coventry, Bristol and more.
- See Hit Factories by Karl Whitney on Amazon (opens in new tab)
The Vinyl Detective – Written in Dead Wax (2016)
Andrew Cartmel's protagonist in his five-part The Vinyl Detective mystery novel series is a down-on-his-luck vinyl connoisseur who, in the series' first book, unwittingly takes on a healthily-paid job to track down a rare 1950s jazz record for a mysterious client who has stumbled upon his "Vinyl Detective" business card.
What ensues is an amusing ride through London's antique and resale shops, with mystery, murder, vinyl and vintage sound systems aplenty. A lighthearted and easy-to-navigate story with a likeable hero at its centre.
- See The Vinyl Detective by Andrew Cartmel on Amazon (opens in new tab)
Rega: A Vibration Measuring Machine (2016)
This featured in our best books about hi-fi and audio list and we think it deserves a place on this one too. After all, if you're passionate about vinyl, it's likely you know your turntables – and not many companies do it better than Rega.
And few people can talk more knowledgeably about turntables than the British brand's founder, Roy Gandy. For A Vibration Measuring Machine, Gandy, with the help of friend Bill Philpot and hi-fi journalist Paul Messenger, presents his thesis on hi-fi turntable engineering.
This entertainingly informative book takes us from the company's humble beginnings in 1973, when Gandy and his business partner Tony Relph (hence 'Re-Ga') began making turntables in their spare time, to the comprehensive engineering principles involved in turntable design and the practicalities around manufacturing.
- See A Vibration Measuring Machine by Roy Gandy on Amazon (opens in new tab)
A Record of My Vinyl: A Collector's Catalog (2017)
Little else beats logging your record collection on a rainy Sunday afternoon to give you that warm feeling of accomplishment, which is why this all-in-one guide and logbook is the ideal companion for any record collector.
A Record Of My Vinyl provides housekeeping advice on how to maintain your collection; the lowdown on evaluating vinyl for resale from Goldmine's widely used rating system; and sections for you to catalogue (such as country, category number, label, grade) and write notes on your collection. There's also a 'My Most Wanted Vinyl' wishlist that you can tear out and take with you on your crate digs.
- See A Record of My Vinyl on Amazon (opens in new tab)
Vinyl Countdown (2019)
"A book about a passion, and the hipsters, oddballs and old heads who share it, written by one of their number, albeit a ludicrously erudite one'," writes Danny Kelly in his foreword to Vinyl Countdown. And if his preface, let alone the book itself, doesn't inspire you to roll on down to your local record store or car boot sale, we don't know what will.
This must-read for vinyl obsessives was penned after author Graham Sharpe was made redundant after five decades working for one company, and this autobiographical tale of his life through his record collection will be, for readers of a certain age, a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
It's an immensely informative memoir and music history lesson, not just concerning records themselves but about his experiences with collecting and writing about them, visiting hundreds of stores worldwide, from north London to New Zealand, and Oxford to Oslo, along the way.
- See Vinyl Countdown by Graham Sharpe on Amazon (opens in new tab)