When I think of bookshops, I usually think of a quick nip into Waterstone’s on the High Street or a specific search on Amazon, unfortunately. But recently, bookshops have been making a come-back, and I’ve seen some amazing ideas to lure us all back in for a browse.
From a coffee shop-cum-bookstore in Greenville, South Carolina, to Powell’s World of Books in Portland, Oregon, it’s clear that the USA knows what they’re doing when they try to beat Amazon at its own game. I’ve found some bookstores a little closer to home, however, that also have me wanting to travel just for the fun of a browse around its shelves.
For example, there’s a store called Leakey’s in the small town of Inverness, in Scotland, which is in a converted Gaelic church. Having been open for almost 40 years, the independent second hand store has an old-world feel to it in amongst the rows and rows of books. There’s even a log fire, with nooks and crannies in which to sit and read, work or just take in the space around you.
Pop across to the continent and track down Portugal’s roaming bookstore. Named “Tell a Story,” this bookstore runs out of an old camper van, and travels around the country selling Portuguese literature, translated to English, to tourists and others that are interested. There are also pens and postcards for sale, perfect for anybody wanting to tell their own stories and send them on.
Continuing the theme of travel, another roaming bookstore, this one in England, is located on an old Barge, usually located in Lichfield but it does travel around the canals of the UK and has done since 2011. The Book Barge is a 60 foot narrow boat, selling books to anybody who stumbles upon it, and there’s usually a picturesque countryside to take in while you browse the shelves as well.
If you ever find yourself in Alnwick, England, then make sure you take a trip to Barter Books. This store is actually where the Second World War poster campaign, Keel Calm and Carry On, was uncovered, and the huge store has lines of poetry decorating its walls and model trains running along the tops of the bookcases. It’ll feel like you’re in a dream, and it certainly will be a good one.
One of the most interesting bookstore stories is perhaps Atlantis Books in Santorini, in Greece. The store in a Cliffside villa has been described as the most beautiful bookshop in the world, and it was the dream of two university friends who were on holiday on the island and decided to open a bookstore after a few glasses of wine. The store has a homely feel, and hosts regular books clubs, poetry readings and might even open an art gallery in due course. There are books in many languages, and those that run it also have a small printing press in the back, and dogs and cats that run around while you browse.
Feel like going for a browse now? Yeah, me too!