Tag Archives | amazing bookshops around the world

Amazing Bookshops Around the World: Flow Organic Bookshop (Hong Kong)

Flow Organic Bookshop
40 Lyndhurst Terrace
Central
Hong Kong
Flow is a little gem in the heart of Hong Kong. It is a crowded used bookshop located at the top of a narrow staircase just off the Soho escalator. Used books of every shape and size literally overflow from the tiny shop. Packed in boxes and bags around the entrance, the books represent hundreds of readers who have come and gone through transient Hong Kong.
The novels are loosely organized alphabetically on towering shelves in the middle of the shop, and the non-ficiton titles line the walls according to subject. There is a small selection of DVDs and a large collection of travel guides and language books. There are too many books for the shelves to hold, so they are stacked at the ends of the aisles and in every nook and cranny. The inventory contains English titles from Jane Austen to Jodie Picoult to Jeffrey Archer.
Flow is the perfect place to look for an affordable beach read or to discover hidden treasures. It can be difficult to find a specific book amidst the jumble of titles, but it is a great place to browse on a rainy afternoon. You never know what you might discover.
Words and photos by Shannon Young
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Amazing Bookshops Around the World: Joot Books (Amsterdam)

Joot Books, Just Out Of Time (Amsterdam)
Hartenstraat 15 1016 BZ
Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Phone: +31(0)20-6881783

Joot Books (Amsterdam)
Amsterdam has a lot of nice bookshops. I was slightly overwhelmed and couldn’t stop hyperventilating and fantasising about how big this section was going to be after my trip. Joot Books was one of the most interesting bookshops I’ve come across in a long time. Located in an area known as “De 9 Straatjes” (the nine streets), famous for its small independent shops and cafés, Joot Books fits in perfectly with the spirit of its location, offering something that is definitely special and sets the shop apart from the generic bookshops that can be found all over the place.
Joot Books (Amsterdam)
Spread across three floors, the bookstore specialises in art books, both old and new, with a special focus on modernist and post-war art. As I stepped in, fooled by the small façade, I was surprised by the actual size of the shop and the comprehensive selection it hosts. As well as books, Just Out Of Time Books carry original art prints by post-war artists.
Joot Books (Amsterdam)
Those who fail to be seduced by art (or can’t carry heavy art books back home in their suitcases in fear that Ryanair will charge them a small fortune) will surely find something of interest in the basement, where Joot carry books on an ample selection of topics such as history, literary theory and philosophy, as well as a well-stocked fiction section with books both in English and Dutch.
Joot Books (Amsterdam)
I might be slightly biased because I got a discount on a Hanif Kureishi novel after I explained what the Amazing Bookshops Around the World section was about, but Joot Books fulfils all the criteria that make a bookshop amazing. You can see for yourself by checking out their catalogue on their website.
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Amazing bookshops around the world: Voltaire and Rousseau (Glasgow)

Voltaire & Rousseau

12 Otago Lane
Glasgow, Lanarkshire G12 8PB
United Kingdom
Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm

Voltaire & Rousseau is everything that a great second-hand bookshop should be. Silent, dishevelled and rammed to the rafters with great books. It has been quietly sitting in Otago Lane for over 30 years, becoming a mecca for Glasgow’s students and intellectuals. It’s not a big place but every inch is chock full of something. What I love most about it is that there’s no real sense of hierarchy. It gives the impression that no book is too unfashionable, too old or too shabby. New books mingle with old. Hardbacks and paperbacks come together, pamphlets are fair game. If the spine is broken or the dust jacket’s ripped that’s fine, no one stands on ceremony here. It feels like more a tribute to the printed word than a business.

As you enter there’s an ante-room filled with the discards of serious book sorting efforts. You can often hit paydirt here. Wonderful vintage books that even charity shops won’t touch, Penguin paperbacks, Faber plays, Haynes car manuals, 1970s textbooks, and spectacular children’s books from the 1950s are piled high, sprinkled with general odds and ends like pamphlets, maps and even a pile of disembodied dust jackets.
Inside, the shop is a delicious muddle of books. Shelves line the walls and run in a spine up the middle. They tidied up once, for an appearance in Channel 4 comedy The Book Group but usually the books spill off the shelves in all directions. Browsing is encouraged by the sheer logistics of getting anywhere. To move at all it is necessary to shuffle along the tight alley of visible carpet. At the back on a hairpin bend, the way is obstructed by some cat food and a cat bowl. The cats are as much a part of the shop as the books and can often be seen sleeping in drawers or other cosy places.
Round the corner, a ladder has sat still for too long and had some books shoved on it, blocking the way. Progress down this aisle is particularly tricky as what’s on the shelves is obscured by the waist high pile of overspill. Occasionally the silence is disturbed by the gentle plomph of a book-related landslip. Like a game of Jenga, pick up the wrong one and the whole thing collapses. This only adds to the wonderful experience; the sense that there’s something amazing but out of reach beneath the surface.

Post originally published on Nothing to See here, an online guide to unknown gems in the UK. 
 
Watercolours by the talented Wil Freeborn, who has a flickr stream well worth visiting.
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Amazing bookshops around the world: White Cat Book Co. (Saskatoon, Canada)

White Cat Book Co. (Saskatoon, Canada)
129-B 2nd Ave N, Saskatoon, SK S7K 2A9
Twitter: @WhiteCatBooks

The bookstore looks like nothing special to the regular onlooker, but to a lover of books, it looks like a haven. To a visitor with no love for literacy, it looks like an overwhelming messy pile. To a lover of reading, it looks like an opportunity, an escape, a fantasy, and new found relationships with characters and authors. After browsing the bookshelves, I felt like I was home, and my visit ended too quick.

I loved the white ceramic cats, it was a perfect fitting for the name of the store, The White Cat Book Co. The owner didn’t mind I was snapping constant photos, and eavesdropping on a conversation between him and a woman asking for a job. He said he didn’t need the help, it was just him and a business partner. He had worked there for years, but when the owner was selling it, he offered it to him. He bought it, after selling his house. If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what is. I’ve never sold anything but a Marc Jacobs bag on ebay and it wasn’t for a bookstore.

The White Cat Book Co.
The White Cat Book Co.
The White Cat Book Co.
The White Cat Book Co.
The White Cat Book Co.
The White Cat Book Co.
The White Cat Book Co.

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Amazing bookshops around the world: The Book Exchange (Amsterdam)

The Book Exchange (Amsterdam)
Kloveniersburgwal 58,
1012 CX Amsterdam,
Netherlands
Website
Like their page on facebook

 

The Book Exchange (Amsterdam)
The Book Exchange is the only independent bookshop I found in Amsterdam with books exclusively in the English language. And my top tip when it comes to Amsterdam bookshops. Sure, you could go to Waterstones or the American Book Centre instead, but who would want to go into a chain bookstore that could perfectly be in any High Street in England or America when you can explore a charming second hand bookshop full of personality instead?
The Book Exchange has been in business in the heart of Amsterdam for over 30 years, amassing quite the collection of used books about every single genre that you can imagine. I have to say their selection of fiction is pretty impressive.
The Book Exchange (Amsterdam)
Not only is it a fun bookshop to browse through, it is also cheap (especially when compared to the big chains). If that isn’t enough to make you want to visit, I’ll give you another reason. Do you know those books you have collecting dust on your bookshelves? Yes, the ones you read years ago and have no intention of ever re-reading, the ones you bought to look cool while seen reading them in public places, and the ones you bought because someone you had a massive crush on told you to. Well, if they are in good condition (and I assume they are because, as a lover of books, you treat them the way they deserve) you can take them to The Book Exchange and sell them or, EVEN BETTER, exchange them for other books. Now, if that doesn’t have you looking at flights to Amsterdam, I don’t know what will.
Books > Drugs and hookers
The Book Exchange (Amsterdam)
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Amazing bookshops around the world: Kubrick Cafe and Bookshop (Hong Kong)

Kubrick Cafe and Bookshop
Yau Ma Tei
Hong Kong

Kubrick Cafe and Bookshop is a cool destination tucked into a local corner of Kowloon, Hong Kong. This lively spot has something for everyone. There’s a cafe serving hot food, coffee, and every type of loose leaf tea you can imagine. There’s a digital library where anyone can borrow dvd’s and music. Right next door you’ll find a theater that shows art house films along with mainstream Asian and Western films. And of course, there are books.
Most of the books are written in Chinese, but you can also find books in English, books in French, and even books in Russian. If you plan to travel, Kubrick carries the complete collection of Lonely Planet guidebooks. The selection of art and photography books is particularly impressive. The books are stacked floor to ceiling and interspersed with trinkets and handbags and specialty cameras for sale.
Kubrick is always busy, and attracts an artistic crowd of locals and expats. There are often live music events on the weekends, and one can regularly overhear people talking about their latest creative projects (or so I imagine as they are usually speaking Cantonese). When the weather is nice, people gather outside the glass front, which is decorated with paintings and memories. It’s a special place to stop for the afternoon in one of the most interesting cities in the world.
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Amazing bookshops around the world: Spui Square (Amsterdam)

If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam and, upon your arrival, discover that, much to your dismay, you forgot to pack a good book, your best bet for a quick literary fix is to head to Spui Square. Here you will find several places to satisfy your book hunger.
The American Book Center is a labyrinthine bookstore where you will surely find whatever it is you’re looking for. Even though slightly overwhelming and overpriced, they have an incredible variety.
If The American Book Center is too American for you there’s no need to panic, as the English chain bookstore Waterstones is pretty much in front of it. Having been inside too many Waterstones shops as it is, I didn’t even step in it, but I’m sure it’s a good choice if you’re looking for something specific, recent releases or want a wide variety to choose from.If big book stores are not your thing and you’re more of a browsing type or you just enjoy the smell of old paper, you might find something of interest in the book market that takes place right in Spui Square every Friday. It won’t be easy to find the right book there, but it is a great place if you have some time to spare or an uncontrollable love for old books and prints.

Spui Book Market
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Amazing bookshops around the world: Lire & Chiner (Colmar)

Lire & Chiner (Colmar, France)
36, Rue des Marchands
F68000 Colmar

Colmar is a little village located in the East of France that looks like it didn’t really get past Medieval times. The perfect location to stumble upon a bookshop like Lire & Chiner.
Colmar Alsacia
Photo credit: Francisco Antunes
In Lire & Chiner you can find both old and new books, but it’s speciality is in old books. There are so many books that there is no room to sit down. Most of the books were old, old, old. Such treasures there, like a whole shelf (A WHOLE SHELF!) of old chemistry books.
They specialise in books from the Alsace region, but you can also find a lot of French classics. There is a lot of Victor Hugo and Jules Verne and other French writers I haven’t heard of. It has a lot of old, valuable books and a whole section of kids books and school books! You can find their entire catalogue on their website.
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Amazing bookshops around the world: Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights (Bath)

Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights (Bath, England)
14-15 John Street,
Bath, BA1 2JL
Open: Mon – Sat 9.30am – 6.30pm

Mr B's - the best bookshop I have ever encountered
When I saw Andrea’s bookshops around the world feature I instantly knew that I had to email her about Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath. Isn’t that just the best bookshop name ever?
We stumbled upon it by accident (don’t you find all the best places like that?) and loved it so much we visited it numerous times during our little trip. Here are the reasons I love it:
1. There is a book spabooth upstairs where you can book a session to sit in peace &; quiet to enjoy a book! You can also book a ‘reading therapy’ session where Mr B will help you find the best books for you and go away with a doggy bag of reading treats. More info here.
2. There is a bookshop dog! She is called Vlashka. I really believe that every good bookshop should have a resident bookshop dog.
3. Free tea & coffee upstairs! At Mr B’s you are really welcome to browse for ages. In fact I am sure they would be happy if you spent all day in there. There is no pressure to buy anything but the booksellers are all so lovely & helpful.
4. The tin tin comic wallpaper going up the stairs!
mr b's
I almost want to move to Bath just so that I can join a Mr B’s reading group and spend all weekend there.
Post & photos by Helen from Afeitar
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Amazing bookshops around the world: Galerie Bortier (Brussels)

Galerie Bortier
Rue de la Madeleine Ilôt Sacré
Brussels (Belgium)

Galerie Bortier

I was happy to stumble upon Galerie Bortier when I went to Brussels. According to my guide, it’s the only shopping gallery entirely devoted to bookshops in the world. That’s pretty remarkable and fully grants it access to the Amazing Bookshops Around the World series.

Galerie Bortier

 

The gallery itself is beautiful, and inside you can find a few small bookshops, mostly selling old books and bargains, and some shops selling prints of antique maps and things like that.
Galerie Bortier
Galerie Bortier
It’s located in central Brussels, very close to all the tourist attractions, which makes it worth visiting if you are one of those people who have an inexplicable love affair with old paper. Unfortunately, I don’t speak French and their selection of books in English was, well, it just wasn’t there, so I came out with no books but a beautiful original sketch.

Galerie Bortier
DO VISIT IF: You have a taste for 19th century shopping arcade and/or antique prints.
SKIP IT IF: You’re actually looking for something to read.
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