Weird and Wonderful Bookshops of the World

We travel vicariously to some of the world’s most unusual – and beautiful – bookshops.


The Book Barge, UK

The Guardian has called The Book Barge ‘quite possibly the coolest bookshop in the UK’. Located on an actual canal boat, usually moored in Lichfield, Staffordshire, it’s intended to encourage a ‘less hurried and harried lifestyle’ - in effect, slow bookselling.

‘I hoped that by creating a unique retail space, customers would realise how independent bookshops can offer a far more pleasurable shopping experience than they’re likely to find online or on the discount shelves at supermarkets,’ said owner Sarah Henshaw. In 2011, the bookshop went on a six-month tour of the UK’s canal network, incorporating a series of onboard author events along the way, including David Vann and Per Petterson,

Lello Bookstore, Portugal

Portugal’s Lello Bookstore, founded in 1906, is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.

Designed and built by engineering professor Xavier Esteves, it is a stunning example of neo-gothic design and features stained glass, carved wood, and a spectacular art nouveau curved staircase.

Pillars are decorated with bronze bas-reliefs of Portuguese literature figures.

Photos via Travelocafe

Poplar Kids Republic, Beijing

The Poplar Kids Republic Bookstore in Beijing looks a little like it may have been created by Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka (no chocolate, though).

It’s been designed to mirror the process of unraveling or discovery that’s central to children’s reading and imagination.

‘A ribbon of rainbow carpet weaves its way around the store, running across the floor, over shelves, and along the ceiling. The ribbon begins on the stairway up to the second-floor bookstore and, after making its way around the store, leads back downstairs along the wall,’ writes Entertainment Designer.

In fact, it was designed by Japan’s SAKO Architects.

Selexyz Dominicanen, Holland

Selexyz Dominicanen is housed in a thirteenth-century Dominican church - used, in its previous incarnation, as an indoor bike pound. ‘Church and bookshop look as if they might have been made for one another,’ writes the Guardian.

A multi-storied steel structure houses most of the books, with stairs and elevators taking browsers to the roof of the church.

Image above via itravelnet.

The bookshop was designed by Amsterdam-based architects Merkx + Girod.

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