Even though most of us order our books from online bookstores, the charm of getting lost in a traditional bookstore where you can find unexpected treasures and smell the characteristic odor of old books is unparalleled.
Here are just a few of them:
1-Oxfam Charity Bookshops, UK – With more than 140 Charity bookshops all over the UK, Oxfam is the largest second-hand book retailer in Europe as it sells more than 11 million books per year. The charity organization accepts book and music donations from all over the UK while customers are able to buy some quality hardback and paperback literature at prices as low as £1.99 – or even lower. Moreover, if you are lucky, you can find a rare or first-edition copy of your favorite author. Apart from books, music lovers will have the chance to buy rare vinyl records as well as CDs and DVDs of all music and film genres.
2-The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, USA – Housed in the building of the old Citizens’ National Bank, this bookshop with the “prophetic” name has become the literary landmark in LA. In its cavernous 10,000 sq. ft. space, you will get lost in its winding aisles where there are more than 100,000 used books that you can buy for only $1 each. Of course, you will be able to buy all new releases at competitive prices and attend a large number of events every month. For music lovers, the Last Bookstore offers an amazing collection of old vinyl records and a stage for live music by local bands. A pleasant atmosphere and a great coffee bar are always inviting, while on special occasions you can enjoy a superb meal by the store’s famous chefs.
3-Atlantis Books, Oia, Santorini, Greece – Located in one of the most spectacular places overlooking the Aegean Sea, Atlantis Books is an independent bookshop that was created by a group of friends from the UK, the USA and Cyprus who were on vacations on the island in 2002. Charmed by the beauty of the place and driven by their passion for literature, they decided to open their own bookstore on the island. Atlantis Books opened its doors in 2004 and has already celebrated its 10th anniversary. The owners often organize music events, readings, local food and drink festivals, and storytelling sessions. Choose your favorite paperback and sit on the terrace to read it while watching the sunset.
4-Word on the Water, London, UK – An old Dutch barge turned into a second-hand bookshop is probably one of the quirkiest places to find the novel you have always wanted to read. The floating bookshop is currently moored in Paddington outside the underground station, but in the past it used to moor at Camden Lock, Hackney and Angel Canals. Inside the barge, the wood-burning stove, the comfortable couches, where the two cats of the boat often sleep, and the hundreds of books all around will send you back to the 19th century. All the books they sell here are private donations or donations from charity organizations. Paperbacks are sold for £3 and hardbacks for £4. When the weather is good there are live music performances or book and poetry readings on the deck for crowds that gather all around the boat.
5-Tell a Story, Portugal – The innovative idea of a bookshop in a van proved absolutely successful with Tell a Story. This traveling bookshop aims at selling the most popular Portuguese literature to tourists. The books are translated in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian and they sell like hotcakes. The driver of the car is Francisco Antolin, a young man from Lisbon whose passion for literature led him and his two friends to have several books of Portuguese classic translated and sold to visitors from all over the world. Their van is a vintage 1975 Renault Estafette, but they are currently planning to buy a second new and bigger one.
6- Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy – Locals and tourists alike flock this amazing bookstore which has become a must see in Venice, one of the oldest and most attractive cities in Italy. Owned by Luigi Frizzo, the bookshop was established about 10 years ago and since then it has amazed its customers because of its unusual ambiance and its vast collection of new and second-hand books. Apart from the shelves all over the walls, books are placed on small real boats, in bathtubs, and on ancient encyclopedias, while an old gondola full of books dominates the center of the place. You will be amazed by the “fire exit” of the bookshop that leads directly to the water of the canal which may flood the place if it gets too high, hence the name of the shop: Library of High Water!