There are so many wonderful and unique bookstores all over the world and I want to showcase the most amazing. It was hard to keep this to a reasonable list, so this is Part 1 of 2. Also, I focused on uniqueness, intrigue, and wow factors.
Here are my picks for the Top Bookstores in the World:
Powell’s City of Books
Powell’s is legendary;
The City of Books (headquarters) takes up an entire city block;
it has 68,000 square feet, nine (color-coded) rooms, three floors, and 3,500 sections. This Flagship location is the world’s largest used book store (carrying new and used, over 1 million books) and said to be the largest independent chain of bookstores on the planet.
They even provide a map for navigating the “city.” It is an amazing store, and one of my favorite places. I am a Portland local and adore this store, but although I am naturally biased, Powell’s reputation is renowned beyond local fans. National Geographic listed it in the top ten bookstores, and CNN listed it among the coolest bookstores in world. The inventory for its retail and online sales is over four million new, used, rare, and out-of-print books. Powell’s buys around 3,000 used books a day. Powell’s also holds many fun book related events; book tournaments, readings, story times for kids, and book groups.
If you ever find yourself in or around the Portland area, I urge you to experience Powell’s City of Books. It is located downtown at the corner of 10th and west Burnside, and opened 365 days a year. Just be sure to give yourself a couple of days to fully take it all in.
Books for Cooks (Melbourne, Australia)
Australia’s only retail store specializing exclusively in new and old books about wine, food and the culinary arts.
Books for Cooks opened in Wattletree Rd, Melbourne in 1983. They carry over 40,000 titles in stock; from the 1780’s to the latest releases.
This bookshop is located on the ground floor of a beautiful double fronted early Victorian two-story terrace in Fitzroy. The building dates back to the 1850’s and was allegedly used as a sly grog shop almost 100 years ago. If you look closely you can even see handmade bricks in the wall.
Shakespeare and Company (Paris, France)
Tourists, customers, dirty poems, a crowd of 40 or 50 mostly attentive listeners, Shakespeare and Company is notably one of the most famous bookshops in the world. It is the name of two independent bookstores that have existed on Paris’s Left Bank.
Bookstands surround an ornate drinking fountain, erected in the 19th century to service the area’s poor. Inside, there’s an extensive stock of second-hand books. Many famous writers have left their mark at Shakespeare’s; an estimated 30,000 aspiring writers bunked over the decades, sleeping on bug infested cots and benches scattered throughout the store in exchange for a couple of hours of work a day and a promise to spend at least some of their downtime reading and writing; a one-page autobiography is mandatory.
Atlantis Books (Santorini, Greece)
Atlantis’s bookshelves, which the staff built themselves, are filled with novels, poetry, short-story collections, biographies and philosophy tomes. The staff is happy to advise on their favorites. In the spring of 2002, Oliver and Craig spent a week on the island of Santorini. The land inspired them and there was no bookshop, so they drank some wine and decided to open one. Oliver named it Atlantis Books and the two laughed about how their children would run it someday. For a more detailed story on this beautiful shop: NY Times…
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights (Bath, UK)
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights is an independent bookshop in Bath. It was founded by former lawyer and derivatives trader Nic Bottomley. A charming bookshop full of friendly book-lovers and packed with quirky furniture. The shop also contains a reading booth for rent and free hot drinks. Mr. B’s specializes in great books, super fast customer orders, themed literary events, reading spas and reading year gifts.
A beautiful neo-classical building designed for the Royal Bank of Canada, in 1909 by Thomas Hooper, the architect of many of B.C.’s finest commercial and public buildings. Munro’s Books has been described by journalist Allan Fotheringham as “the most magnificent bookstore in Canada, possibly in North America.”
The store’s stock consisted almost entirely of paperbacks, at a time when many traditional booksellers considered anything other than hardback books to be beyond the pale, bordering on beneath contempt.
Located in a former underground parking garage and bomb shelter, Librairie Avant-Garde has been transformed into the most beautiful bookstore in China.
This bookshop features a cafe, pillars etched with famous verses and poems, sculptures, artwork, and one of the coolest features is a cashier counter built from thousands of old books. It is also adorned with tons of reading chairs, so you can get cozy, settle in, and forget the outside world.
This list was has been so fun to make, there are so many immensely interesting and amazing bookstores. I cannot wait to share with you the last 8 of The Top Bookstores in the World.
Which of these is your favorite? Stay tuned for Part II coming soon!
“What is this life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare.” W.H.`Davies