Although I (Jan) purchase most of my books as ebooks, I still visit bookshops and buy p-books (paper books) from time to time. My favourite bookshop in London is Waterstones in Piccadilly which is the biggest bookshop in Europe. It has a restaurant on the fifth floor with a great view of London.
Over the years of travelling, I also visited many bookshops all over the world and these are my favourites.
Shakespeare and Company, Paris
This little and nicely cluttered bookshop with the eclectic mix of old and new books was favourite bookshop of Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and for Ford Madox Ford, just to name a few. (You can still get a bed for the night in exchange for working in the shop.)
Livraria Lello, Porto
This 112-year old bookshop is a must to see when you’re in Portugal. There is a fee to get in but it’s worth it (you’ll get a book voucher for the entrance fee). The stunning staircase is a masterpiece with famous Portuguese paintings all around.
The American Book Centre, Amsterdam
This bookshop in the centre of Amsterdam is a pleasure to visit. Not too big and not too small, it has a selection of every book category. I always buy something there.
And next door there is a small newspaper/bookshop Athenaeum Boekhandel, specialising in design and art books and all kinds of newspapers and magazine.
Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice
This bookshop claims to be the most beautiful bookshop in the world (Calle Longa S.M. Formosa 5176/b Venice, Italy 30122). It has books stored or piled more accurately in bathtubs, gondolas and boats. If disorganised bookshops don’t put you off, you’ll love this one. I believe that this bookshop is the most wabi-sabi bookshop in the world. It’s a real treasure island of books. Be open to finding something – at random.
Livraria da Vila, Sao Paulo
This modern bookshop was designed by Isay Weinfeld and is light and spacious. It has a great section for kids.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires
This historic, palatial theatre is one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops.
Bookshops in London
In London, there are a few other bookshops that I like.
Watkins Books in central London, by the Leicester Square tube station at 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. This bookshop specialises in all kinds of the spiritual, new age and personal development books and it’s probably the best bookshop of its kind.
Stoke Newington Bookshop, North London. With a community feel and friendly staff, this is a well-organised and an award-winning indie bookshop.
Haywood Hill Bookshop Mayfair Situated in the heart of Mayfair, Heywood Hill is one of the leading bookshops of London, trusted by readers and collectors throughout the English-speaking world. Our staff are dedicated bibliophiles who understand the importance of matching the right book with the right person. We offer a range of tailored literary services, all marked by old-fashioned courtesy and good humour.
Map of London’s bookshops
Click on the map of London’s bookshops to go to the interactive map of most of London’s bookshops