The World’s Most Interesting Bookstores

Alison Morris - March 17, 2009

I stumbled across a website the other day that features photos of what it calls the "Most Interesting Bookstores of the World" and thought, "Yep. Those are pretty interesting!" But ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN’ INCREDIBLE is actually more accurate. Take a look at the photos of "Most Interesting Libraries in the World" too.

I went digging on Flickr for more remarkable bookstores and found some other great examples. One is an underground manga shop in Shibuya, Tokyo. Another is El Ateneo in Buenos Aires, which is housed in a former theater. You can get a decent sense of its scale by watching this video:

My favorite, though, might be the Lello Bookshop (Livraria Lello) in Porto, Portugal. (More photos here and here.) You can feel what it’s like to stroll down the Lello’s incredible staircase by watching the video below.

Funny, but I don’t get the same feeling walking up OR down the stairs in our store. (Sigh.)

What some places lack in aesthetic virtures, though, they make up for in charm and sheer VOLUME. I was amazed to watch the video below, about an unbelievable book-filled farm in Princeton, Wisconsin. I think the only place I’ve seen more books might be at the Library of Congress.

What’s the most amazing bookstore you’ve ever visited?

4 thoughts on “The World’s Most Interesting Bookstores

  1. Karen Gray Ruelle

    Many years ago, I went to an amazing bookstore in the English countryside. I can’t remember the name, but it might have been called Lilley’s, or something like that. I think it has since closed. It was an entire manor house-turned-bookstore, with every room emptied of most of its furniture and filled with bookshelves piled high with old books. Different categories of books could be found in different rooms–marked with hand-written labels in fading, curlicue handwriting–and the entire place was run by one slightly deaf old man, shuffling about in his ragged cardigan and house slippers. My mother and I were the only ones there, browsing throughout the house. I remember that there was a lot of dust, and I was sure I’d discover some real treasures in among those old books, if only I had enough time to search. I wanted to move in!

  2. Ted W

    We have very similar tastes. I have been lucky enough to visit both stores you pictured and they are both spectacular, although Lello & Imao wins out. BTW, both stores reflect the incredible cities in which they reside.

  3. Dave Carr

    Anyone who has ever been to Bookman’s Alley (Do a YouTube search for that phase to get a tour) in Evanston, Illinois, knows what a fantastic and unique bookstore it is. They have all these hidden nooks and crannies, and a ton of interesting items related to the books that they neighbor – For instance, WWII-era helmets in among the WWII books, old trumpets in with the music books, etc. If you are visiting Chicago and have an afternoon to spare, make sure to visit!


    Sahafler Carsisi, Second Hand Booksellers Market, Istanbul, Turkey Wondering through the oldest market in the city, the Second Hand Booksellers courtyard is probably one of the most quiet and leafy and pleasant of all the markets in Istanbul. It has been located at this same spot since Byzantine times, where book makers and paper makers worked. Today, bookstalls and bookcases and tables covered with books spill onto the walkways together with sellers of pens, reading glasses and the perfect browsing snack, simit, Turkish pretzels. Everything seems available, such as antique miniatures taken from 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th century books, Korans in all sizes and colors, dictionarties, travel books as well as popular Turkish, Russian and Western writers works. To view a photograph, please visit the blog at


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