The World's Best Bookshops!

The World's Best Bookshops!

This article was written by Global Graduates, published on 2nd October 2014 and has been read 7027 times.

In case you weren't aware, October of this year is National Book Month! We thought we'd mark the occasion by doing a few book-related articles throughout the month, starting with this list of 15 beautiful bookshops from around the globe...

1. Libreria Alta Acqua - Venice, Italy. Alta Acqua, Sestiere Castello, 5176/B  30122 Venice, Italy

In this exquisite little bookshop, a selection of new and old books are displayed in gondolas, canoes and tanks, as well as being used as furniture themselves, piled up to form steps or replacing wall hangings to brighten up the courtyard. Enter directly from the canal and chat with the notoriously friendly and well-informed manager, Luigi Frizzo, to get the best bargains.



2.  - Santorini, Greece. Atlantis Books, Main Marble Road, T.K. 84702 Oía, Kikladhes, Santorini, Greece.

 Atlantis was founded by a group of friends from Greece and the USA. As well as selling fiction and non-fiction in at least 7 languages, they also host festivals, film screenings and dances! 2014 marks their 10th anniversary so it’s the perfect time to visit - if not for the books, then for the view!


Atlantis Books 2

3.  - London. Paddington Station Canal, W2 1JS

 Founded in 2011, this canal boat stuffed with second-hand books used to float up and down the River Lea, before finally settling in Paddington (after a campaign from locals!). Browse the unbelievable bargains or join their music nights, poetry slams and readings with a cold beer in the summer or mulled wine in the winter months.


Word on the Water 2


word-on-the-water 3


4. Les Bouquinistes - Paris, France

The used-books sellers have been a fixture of the banks of the Seine since the mid-1500s, finally receiving permission to permanently attach their books to the quaysides in 1891. Browsed over the years by everyone from tourists to Hemingway, the waiting list to become one of the bouquinistes is 8 years and the stalls showcasing their 300,000 or so books must be open 4 days a week, no matter what the weather. 

Bouquiniste Paris

Les Bouqinistes 2


6. Livraria Lello e Irmao - Porto, Portugal. Rua das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal

 This ornate gem is one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal; the original company was founded in 1869 and it moved to it’s current location in 1881. The centrepiece of the shop is its winding staircase, recognisable to Harry Potter fans as the location for Flourish and Blotts in the second film (JK Rowling herself spent her year abroad in Porto so the choice makes sense!).

Livreria Porto 1

Livreria Porto 2

7. Ateneo Grand Splendid - Buenos Aires, Argentina. Av. Santa Fe 1860, Piso 2, C1123AAN Buenos Aires, Capital Federal, Argentina

El Ateneo Grand Splendid has quite a history. Opening as a theatre in 1919, it was converted into a cinema in the 1920s and was the first place in Argentina to show films with sound! After being renovated in 2000, it became the flagship store of booksellers Grupo Ilhsa. What’s most impressive about El Ateneo is the way the books have been incorporate tastefully into the theatre’s original architecture. The theatre boxes have become hidey-holes to try books before you buy and the crimson curtains hide a backstage cafe.

El Ateneo

El Ateneo 2

8. - Paris, France. 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France

One of the world’s most famous English-language bookshops in the world is nestled away in the shadow of Notre Dame on the Parisian Left Bank. It was founded by American expat George Whitman in the 1950s as a bohemian refuge, where writers could mingle and rest for the night, in exchange for doing a few hours’ work in the shop. When George died in 2011, the bookshop passed to his daughter Sylvia. The shop now has a few modern conveniences (a phone and a till for one!), but its ramshackle, literary spirit remains.

Shakespeare and Co

Shakespeare and Co 2

9. Librería Bardón - Madrid, Spain. Plaza San Martín, 3, 28013 Madrid, Spain

Founded in 1947 by Dr. Luis Bardón López, la Librería Bardón has been the go-to Spanish antiquarian bookshop for over 50 years. Now run by his grandchildren, the bookshop is packed floor to ceiling with old and rare Spanish books, bindings, prints, illustrations and maps.

Libreria Bardon

Libreria Bardon 2

10. - Bejing, China. China, Beijing, Chaoyang, S Sanlitun Rd, 4号楼

The Bookworm is much more than just a bookshop. It is also a library, bar, restaurant and events space, with 16,112 titles on its shelves at last count. They also host an enormous literary festival - the 2014 programme had more than 300 events across 8 cities. Pop in for a coffee and a browse and stay until the evening to catch some comedy or live music.

Bookworm Bejing


Bookworm Bejing 2



11. - Ojai, California, USA. 302 W Matilija St, Ojai, CA 93023, United States

When, in 1946, Richard Bartinsdale’s collection of books began to overwhelm him, he decided to start selling them out of a couple of bookcases on the side of the road. Customers would choose a book and leave some money in the coffee cans on top of the cases. 50 years later, Bart’s Books is the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore in the U.S.A., but - amazingly in this cynical day and age - the coffee cans payment system still remains. 

Barts Books California

Barts Books California 2

12. Polare Maastricht - Maastricht, Netherlands. Dominikanerkerkstraat 1, 6211 CZ Maastricht, The Netherlands

Polare Maastricht often tops lists of the most beautiful bookstores in the world - and with good reason. Situated in a former Dominican church (which itself dates back to 1294), the black steel of the bookshelves stand out against the vaulted ceilings, ornate arches and delicate frescoes. But what really makes this place special are the subtle touches; the lighting has been designed to resemble the soft glow of candlelight and the cafe is located in the church’s former sanctuary.


Polare Maastricht

Polare Maastricht 2

13.  - Northumberland, England. Barter Books, Alnwick Station, Northumberland NE66 2NP

There is a lot to love about this bookshop, located in an old railway station. Not is it one of the biggest antiquarian bookstores in the UK, but the original waiting rooms have been converted into cosy reading rooms, with open fires and comfortable armchairs. If the name sounds a little familiar, it will be because Barter Books reached international fame a few years ago when, in 2000, they found one of two remaining original copies of the 1939 ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster in the bottom of a box - the same poster that has been mass-produced around the globe!

Barter Books 2

Barter Books 3

14.  - Ciudad de México, Mexico. Calle Alejandro Dumas 81, Miguel Hidalgo, Polanco, 11560 Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal, Mexico 

This all-natural Mexican venue is a breath of fresh air, with trees growing up through bookshelves and an open-air, relaxed vibe. As it’s name would suggest, el Péndulo is equal parts bookstore and coffee shop, designed to be used as a hang-out space, rather than a grab-and-dash commercial experience. The chilled atmosphere continues through the evening; it has a rooftop terrace that doubles as music venue, complete with an open-air bar.

Cafebreria el pendulo


Cafebreria el pendulo 3


15. John K. King Books - Detroit. 901 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226, United States

With over 1 million books in stock, this bookstore - located in an abandoned glove factory in Michigan - is notable for more than just its interesting exterior. It has 4 floors that are open to the public and has become notorious as a place where you can source hidden gems. Next door is a building housing antiquarian books, many of which are so rare that they can only be viewed by appointment. Stubbornly old-fashioned in his approach, King himself describes the shop as ‘a dinosaur in a computer age’. Perfect for the nostalgic amongst you.

John K. King Books

John K. King Books 2

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