Beautiful and unusual bookshops from around the world

There's something very unique about the appeal of a bookshop that a Kindle could never match.

Whether it's the woody smell of second-hand reads or the joy of discovering a hidden gem, a good bookstore emanates the magic of a serene, relaxed haven of treasures.

In The Bookshop Book, author Jen Campbell takes a look inside some of the globe's most unusual reading retreats in "a love letter to bookshops all around the world" - we've picked out some highlights. 

Join us as we take a tour of some of the world's finest literary hideouts, from a mountainous book town in Norway to a book barge that chugs along the inland rivers of England and the independent Singing Wind store based on a cattle ranch in Arizona.

  • Scotland

    Leakey's Bookshop, Inverness

    This gorgeous haven of a bookshop can be found in an old Gaelic Church in Inverness. Scotland's largest secondhand bookshop, it comes with a cafe, an open log fire and over 100,000 titles to browse through. 

  • Norway

    Fjaerland Book Town, Mundal

    A must for book lovers, "Book Town" is a four kilometre expanse of second hand tomes in the centre of Fjærland. There are art galleries and cafes on the side, along with sensational views of the surrounding mountains. 

    Photo: Jan Kløvstad

  • Portugal

    Tell a Story, Lisbon

    The folks over at Tell a Story in Lisbon believe that a journey is best remembered by a book - so they translate Portuguese literary masterpieces as a "postcard" of their culture. Best of all it's housed in a beautiful blue van that traverses the city. 

    Photo: Douglas Cabel

  • Greece

    Atlantis Books, Santorini

    This gem of an independent bookshop is nestled on the island of Santorini. It has a picturesque outdoor terrace and stocks titles in Greek, English, Spanish, Italian, German, French and Dutch. It also hosts screenings, literary festivals and book readings throughout the year. 

    Photo credit: Will Brady

  • United States

    John K. King Used & Rare Books, Detroit

    Regularly rated one of the coolest bookshops in the world, John K. King Used & Rare Books is located in a warehouse in downtown Detroit. A one-time glove factory (hence the sign), it boasts a collection of "one million books, give or take a dozen", along with postcards, records and antiques. 

    Photo: FTG Designs 

  • England

    Barter Books, Alnwick

    Housed in Alnwick's magnificent old Victorian railway station, Barter Books has many unusual and delightful features including open fires in the winter, a model railway that works its way though the shop's book collections, moving lines from poetry on display and stunning 40-foot wall murals. 

    Photo: Hana Louise Makin

  • Italy

    Libreria Palazzo Roberti, Bassano del Grappa

    The regal king of bookshops, Libreria Palazzo Roberti opened in 1998 in the grounds of a 17th Century palace. The elegant architecture, including frescoes, are a joy to behold, as you peruse the books spread over three airy floors of the aristocratic landmark. The sisters who own it - Lavinia, Lorenza and Veronica Manfrotto - run regular events. 

  • China

    The Bookworm, Beijing

    The Bookworm is a favourite among locals and tourists alike in Beijing and it's easy to see why. It's a beautiful, easygoing space with thousands of books, top quality espressos, a terrace for cocktails and pretty Chinese lanterns. Regular music evenings and book events help up its status as a book-lover's paradise. 

  • Canada

    Munro's Books, Victoria

    This glorious landmark of a bookstore holds pride of place in a neo-classical building in the heart of Victoria's Old Town. Along with eight giant hand-stitched fabric banners created by textiles artist Carole Sabiston, its piece de resistance is a sumptuously decorated ceiling that is reminiscent of the great library of Ephesus built by the Romans in ancient times.

  • United States

    Singing Wind Bookshop, Arizona

    This unique hangout can be found in the middle of a working cattle ranch in Arizona and is filled with floor-to-ceiling shelves of unexpected books on health, climbing, local history and more. The owner knows all authors in the region, so you can expect plenty of signed copies of reads based around the West and Southwest. The beauty here is, you never know what you might stumble across. 

  • England

    Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath

    This quirky joy of a bookshop is run by a friendly bunch of literary lovers and has its own band - The Bookshop Band - whose mission it is to engage the public with literature via music (author Rachel Joyce is a fan). The atmosphere is unhurried and relaxed with plenty of wonderful reads to choose from. 

    Photo: Owen Benson

  • Cambodia

    D's Books, Phnom Penh

    This small second hand book shop is geared towards the backpackers and tourists of Cambodia. Roam the aisles to find dog-eared tomes from other peoples' travels, filled with inscriptions or little notations. There are the usual range of travelling books (such as Alex Garland's The Beach), along with memoirs, historical fiction and more. It's conveniently located for night market shopping. 

  • England

    The Book Barge, Lichfield

    The Book Barge is an independent bookshop launched in June 2009 from the deck of a 60′ cruiser stern narrowboat. It's based in Lichfield but has chugged its way across most of the inland waterways of England and Wales.

    Photo: Sarah Henshaw

  • England

    The Book Barge, Lichfield

    Owner Sarah Henshaw says the fact that her bookshop is based on a barge gives it a unique selling point.  "I don’t think many independent booksellers can compete on price with Amazon," she says. "You have to give a really good shopping experience to customers. People enjoy the novelty of stepping aboard a boat – kids especially enjoy it."

    Photo: Tom Medwell 

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