Best bookstores in Berlin, new and old.
Thanks to great reading culture and the blessings of the fixed price system (Buchpreisbindung), you can find great quality (and not so great quality) German bookstores all over Berlin — check out Berlin’s New German Bookstore Map for our recommendations. Decent foreign-language bookshops, however, are hard to come by, so we’re very happy to tell you about these:
NEW: Pequod Books
Selchower Straße 33, Neukölln
Pequod stocks used books in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, Polish, Norwegian, Romanian and Danish, along with a handful of books in other languages. The bright, orderly shop is small-ish, but a second room will be opened in the coming months, nearly doubling the size of the store. The selection leans strongly toward traditional classics, in part because owner Álvaro Sendra González does not speak all of the languages he offers, but also because, an artist by trade, he is still learning about the book business, and is building his stock up from a solid foundation. González is candid about this learning process and the experimentation involved. He’s been disappointed by sales of Turkish books — Czech books sell better — and says that French books haven’t done as well as he expected, even though his selection is good and it’s clearly an under-served population. González wanted to “do something good for Berlin” by setting up Pequod and, in the spirit of our low-cost city, no book in the shop costs more than €6. Pequod will buy used books.
Riemannstr. 7, Kreuzberg
To be honest, I was shocked when Lonely Planet listed Another Country as one of the world’s 10 best bookstores. Still, Another Country is not without its charms. It’s great for science fiction readers. It also has a cool lending program: buy a book (the cost is somewhat high for used), read it, return it, and you’ll get all but 1.50 Euro back. No due dates. The selection isn’t good enough for this to be my regular bookstore, but if you’re not looking for a particular title (or the particular title you’re looking for is sci-fi), Another Country is a nice resource.
Dialogue Books — UPDATE: Sadly, Dialogue Books is now closed. However, they will still continue to do amazing events, so get on that mailing list!
Schönleinstr. 31, Kreuzberg
You may remember Dialogue Books from its 2010 Prenzlauer Berg location. Same ownership, same great style: a little boutique-y treasure of carefully selected titles. Owner/bookseller Sharmaine Lovegrove says, “The shop specialises in books in translation and international literary, cult and new fiction…from the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe, together with native English tongues from North America, the UK, the Caribbean and Australasia.” Nonfiction/cultural studies are well-represented too. Over the past year, Dialogue has been responsible for some of the best English-language literary events in Berlin, so getting on the mailing list is definitely worth it.
Friedrichstr. 90, Mitte
Dussmann is a huge German bookstore near Friedrichstrasse with a selection of English books larger than in many independent English bookstores. The atmosphere and service leave something to be desired, but they’re good in a pinch and certainly nowhere near as corporately evil and stupid as the Thalia chain. They also have a respectable selection from other languages, though if you’re looking for French books, just take 5 minutes to head up to Zadig by Oranienburger Tor for a nicer experience.
Wörtherstr. 27, Prenzlauer Berg
Used & new books
St. George’s has a great selection of used and new books, plus some journals that are hard to come by here (N+1, The Believer, etc.) The poetry selection is recently much improved, and as far as I know, it’s the only place in Berlin where you can now find poetry people were uncomfortably beginning to call ‘post-avant’ when I left the States. Good for film, philosophy, literature. St. George’s will buy used books. Definitely a good candidate to be your regular bookstore.
Shakespeare & Sons
Raumerstr. 36, Prenzlauer Berg
Used & new books
Shakespeare & Sons has two shops in Prague, but its roomy new Berlin shop is very Prenzlauer Berg in style. Highlights are Eastern European literature in English (including lots of titles from noteworthy Prague-based Twisted Spoon Press), a sizable French-language selection, a respectable graphic novel/comic book section with each book displayed cover-out (super-important for graphic browsing), and a substantial philosophy collection. Shakespeare & Sons will buy used books. Oh and if you become a member (doesn’t cost anything; just give them your email address), after spending 50 Euro you get 10% off of all of your purchases. Forever.
Linienstr. 141, Mitte
As far as I know, Zadig is the only French bookstore in Berlin worthy of the name. They’re friendly, the selection is great, and the store is very welcoming. Zadig has a really fabulous comic/graphic novel selection and lots of children’s books. If your French is a little rusty, they’ll speak English or German with you.
Readux’s Berlin Bookstore Map
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This text by Amanda DeMarco is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.