Words cannot do justice to the pleasure of a good bookshop. Ironically. I once read this in Waterstones, a bookshop on Trafalgar Square in London and though it was nice. It`s really something about bookshops, libraries and such – whether you love to read, just browse the shelves or like myself; let yourself be amused by the peculiar atmosphere of these places. Here are some selected book-related experiences in Amsterdam.
Rijksmuseum Research Library
When I was visiting one of the most popular, grand museums in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum, I didn`t expect to find one of the most beautiful libraries I have ever seen! Apparently, the library is the largest public art history library in the Netherlands. I later inquired about the possibilities to sit here and study, and the reply was that “access to the Rijksmuseum Research Library is free for researchers. Unfortunately, due to the limited amount of places we can only accommodate visitors who make uses of the library collections.” In other words, not a place where you can casually drop by to read – but if you plan a little, you can probably make it happen. In any case, totally worth the sight – a must to find if you visit the museum (which is too big for you to see everything in one day anyway)!
The American Book Center
Independent bookstore over 3 floors, conveniently located at Spui in the city center – just around the corner from the University library where I`ve spent too many hours
procrastinating studying. Inside the store, there is an iconic tree that reaches from the ground floor, throughout the ceilings and all the way to the top floor. On the second floor you find a small cafè in the corner, where you can read, write a postcard or just escape the crowds outside while drinking a fresh peppermint tea. On the third floor, you find Betty the Bookmaking Machine! If you have a dream about publishing your own book, you can get it done here (at least a few copies, I believe)! When you are in the area anyway, don`t forget to also drop by the Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum across the street – shelves stuffed with magazines from around the globe – from bottom to top. You thought you have seen it all? Don`t be surprised by the range of possible topics and titles on display in this store.
This delicate bookshop is located in between all the small shops in De Negen Straatjes (the 9 streets), a picturesque canal district area with independent stores, vintage and design boutiques and small cafès. If the combination of dark, sleek interior design and stylish, heavy coffee table books sounds like your cup of tea, then this is your place to go.
Oudemanhuispoort Book Market
“Hidden down a covered passageway between university buildings, this daily atmospheric book market at the Oudemanhuis (literally `Old man house`) is a must for book lovers!” This is how iamsterdam describes it, and it`s a good one. A bit tricky to find, but when you do find it, you will be happy that you did. Mostly Dutch books, but half the point is to go on a treasure hunt for a book, a vintage poster or something else you never expected to find, isn`t it? Remember to bring your Euros with you, this place is cash only!
“The hidden bookshop”: Happy Bookieman
Easily on my personal top list of Amsterdam experiences in general! Far from any of the places above, and quite a hidden gem that you wouldn`t notice unless you walked straight into it. This guy, Stephan, turned his canal-side apartment into a second-hand bookstore – or a second hand bookstore into his home? I am not sure how it is, but this place is a delight! It`s located on Herengracht 267, right by Hoxton Hotel. I think the opening times and days depends on his mood (?), but I have been lucky to share a coffee and tea with him by a few, sunny occasions. Every time, I`ve felt like I`ve stumbled into some movie! 5 star recommendation from me.
It is said that a place is not really a place without a bookstore, and Amsterdam has it`s fair share. The list above is a good place to start if you want to explore them! :)