In a world that’s going increasingly digital, a bookstore might actually seem like a dying breed. However, whether you’re a bookworm or interior design lover, bookstores are more than a temple to literature – they’re a historical timepiece and a great place to spend a few minutes or hours just browsing through printed tomes. Here are some of the most picturesque bookstores around the world!
Book and Bed: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka | Japan
Book & Bed – which has branches in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka – is a unique bookstore that also functions as a hostel! The bookstore is uniquely designed with cosy sleeping pods and bunks that are tucked neatly between the bookshelves. Shared washroom facilities and a cafe space round out the unique overnight experience.
Word on the Water: London | UK
Word on the Water is a quirky bookstore on a 1920s Dutch canal barge, and houses an assortment of cult, classic, and contemporary fiction and nonfiction books. Located along Regents Canal, the barge is more than a bookstore: it hosts performances in summer by bringing in music and poetry slams to its rooftop garden.
Shakespeare and Company: Paris | France
Visited by luminaries like Ernest Hemingway, Voltaire, and Rousseau, this iconic Parisian destination is situated on Paris’ Left Bank. First opened in 1919, you can find long queues in this quaint space. It’s a bustling space year round, hosting regular writer readings, Sunday Tea, and even accommodates writers who stay there.
Livraria Lello: Porto | Portugal
This breathtaking neo-Gothic building features ornate wood carvings and reliefs of literary and allegorical figures literally everywhere. The winding red staircase centerpiece is complemented by a stained glass ceiling, and there’s a small cafe. Renowned as J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Harry Potter, you need a ticket to enter.
Selexyz Dominicanen: Maastricht | Holland
The bookstore is housed in a Gothic-style Catholic church that dates back to 1294 AD. The ornate naves, high ceilings, intricate stonework, and arched halls have been preserved and restored. To convert it into a sprawling, glossy bookstore, a black steel frame structure was erected to act as a central shelving island.
Cook & Book, Brussels | Belgium
This charming space combines two functions: restaurant and bookstore! Divided into eight dining rooms, each has its own unique vintage design, including a caravan in the travel section, vinyl records in the music section, model railway tracks in the children’s section, and a small Fiat in the cooking section.
Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice | Italy
Libreria Acqua Alt looks more like a chaotic book collector’s home, with a direct view of the Venetian canals. This cozy, offbeat bookstore is filled to the brim with vintage books, magazine, and maps in unique displays – since it constantly floods in Venice, books are kept dry in bathtubs, bins, and even a gondola!
Baldwin’s Book Barn, Pennsylvania | USA
Established in 1934, Baldwin’s Book Barn is housed in a dairy barn built in 1822, and is filled with old-world charm where vintage fruit crates are sometimes used for shelving. The cosy bookstore features reading nooks, stone walls, wood-burning stove, and shelf upon shelf of rare and antique books, maps, and prints.