The Seduction of Bookstores

There are times when I have to force myself not to wander into a bookstore, because I know that if I do, I will leave with a book. And I already have an entire bookshelf of books I still have to read. It’s an addiction.

I could also spend hours perusing the shelves and taking in that ink drenched paper smell of new books. Second hand bookstores are also great. There the paper has more of a musty smell, but special in its own way.

The enchanted bookstore
There’s something wonderfully magical about bookstores and these two owners of the Type bookstore in Toronto try to capture it in this video:

Most beautiful bookstores in the world
What would I do if everyone bought their books online and bookstores were to disappear? Where would I get my high? Thankfully I’m not the only one who feels this way. made a list of the 20 most beautiful bookstores in the world as a tribute. “We can’t overestimate the importance of bookstores,” they write, “they’re community centres, places to browse and discover, and monuments to literature all at once.”

Two of the 20 bookstores are found in the Netherlands. I know the TreeHouse in Amsterdam well and have been there several times. The spiral staircase is filled from top to bottom with books and it’s very tempting to sit on those stairs all day.

The rest of the selection is also great. They’re so varied; it’s hard to pick a favourite. What about the Harry Potter lighting in the English-language bookstore Bookworm in Beijing, China? Or how about the theatrical setting of the Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina? And the next time I’m in Paris I won’t force myself to wander past the Shakespeare & Company bookstore.



9 thoughts on “The Seduction of Bookstores

  1. Oh, the siren song of the bookshop! We have come a long way since the days of Canterbury Tales, in which one character is described as having a vast personal library of (gasp!) forty books.

  2. Lovely post. I can’t imagine not having books. I was brought up surrounded by books and I loved sitting in a comfy chair surrounded by books and reading one of them. There is nothing like it. Too many book shops are disappearing. When I go to Bordeaux I always go into Bradley’s book store. It would be a shame if these disappeared from our high streets.
    A high street without a bookshop is like a savannah without an Elephant.

  3. I’m with you on that one totally! There is nothing more unique than flipping those pages and smelling the book with you own nose. And to compare it to those e-books… Actually nothing to compare to. Those devices perhaps save some trees, but require other materials to be used to make them. And run them.

    And I believe that no matter what, real books will always be around. Because we will not perish. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.
    All the best,

  4. I love that video. How can you not fall in love with books if you love words? And there’s something about the feel of the paper, the small bookmarks we leave to help us find the way back, and the things we write in the margins that make us happy or sad.

  5. I love the smell of paper, the feel of crisp pages beneath my fingertips. At my house bookshelves and art compete for wall space. Not only are shelves of books beautiful to look at and fascinating just to trawl for intriguing titles, they hold the promise of all those stories yet to be read. Even should I succumb one day and buy a Kindle or Nook or some sort of electronic book-reading device, I will NEVER give up my books! Fun post. Loved the video.

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