367

The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World

[Editor's note: In celebration of the holidays, we're counting down the top 12 Flavorwire features of 2012. This post, at #1, was originally published January 31.] With Amazon slowly taking over the publishing world and bookstores closing left and right, things can sometimes seem a little grim for the brick and mortar booksellers of the world. After all, why would anyone leave the comfort of their couch to buy a book when with just a click of a button, they could have it delivered to their door? Well, here’s why: bookstores so beautiful they’re worth getting out of the house (or the country) to visit whether you need a new hardcover or not. We can’t overestimate the importance of bookstores — they’re community centers, places to browse and discover, and monuments to literature all at once — so we’ve put together a list of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, from Belgium to Japan to Slovakia. Just so you know now, all you bookstore fiends: neither the Strand nor Powell’s is on this list. They’re both great bookstores, of course, but not particularly pretty (at least in our minds), and thus disqualified. Click through to see our picks for the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and as always, if we’ve left off your favorite, be sure to add to the collection in the comments!

A gorgeous converted Dominican church gives the power of reading its due diligence. Selexyz Bookstore, Maastricht, Holland

Modern design at its finest in a store full of art books. The Bookàbar Bookshop, Rome, Italy

We love the stairs as reading and display area, the wall-to-wall bookshelves, and the simple, clean design. Plural Bookshop, Bratislava, Slovakia

This divine neo-gothic bookstore, opened in 1906, contains what we consider to be the ultimate definition of a stairway to heaven. Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

Somehow, this bookstore manages to be both whimsical and slightly macabre all at once. Cook & Book, Brussels, Belgium

There’s magic in the air at this English-language bookstore in Beijing. Bookworm, Beijing, China

This majestic converted 1920s movie palace uses theatre boxes for reading rooms and draws thousands of tourists every year. Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina [images via and via]

How could any kid (or adult, for that matter) resist those delicious reading nooks? Poplar Kid’s Republic, Beijing, China

This is a bookstore that seems to be made almost entirely out of books — down to its dramatic front doors. Livraria da Vila, Sao Paulo, Brazil [photos via]

For those who like their green spaces (and coffee shops) to invade their bookstores. Cafebreria El Pendulo, Mexico City, Mexico [photos via]

For those browsers not as impressed by architecture as they are by the beauty of books upon books upon books in narrow hallways — not to mention a place to nap. Shakespeare & Company, Paris, France [photo via]

The huge space, high ceilings and stately pillars make for a lovely reading experience. The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, CA

For sailors and beach readers alike, this sun-kissed bookstore is a little less ostentatious than some of the others on this list, but no less lovely. Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece

The biggest outdoor bookstore in the world, this photo doesn’t really do the place justice — it’s all about the view. Bart’s Books, Ojai, California [photo via]

The bookstore section of the larger complex dedicated to art and design certainly lives up to its mission. Corso Como Bookshop, Milan, Italy

We’re suckers for rounded ceilings and decorative lighting. Barter Books, Alnwick, UK [photos via]

This beautifully designed space has surprising shapes, cleverly constructed nooks and crannies and even a tree or two. The American Book Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands [photo via]

Almost utilitarian but filled with simple old-world grace, this store is a little like what we might imagine our ideal ship’s main cabin to look like. VVG Something, Taipei, Taiwan

This store has a flying bike and books to the ceiling. Need we say more? Ler Devagar, Lisbon, Portugal

This slick, super-modern store benefits from clean design and charming flourishes of light and mirrors. Daikanyama T-Site, Tokyo, Japan

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,907 other followers