More Than Bookstores, These Shops are Must-visit Meccas to the Printed Word
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly
211 Rue Bernard O, Montréal, QC H2T 2K5, Canada
For the comic and graphic novel enthusiast, Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly is a revered pilgrimage site. The thriving store is the physical location of world famous graphic novel publisher Drawn & Quarterly, stocking its own titles as well as books produced by other international alt-presses, like McSweeneys, Fantagraphics, Koyama, New Directions, Breakdown Press, and more. There’s no other place in the world so comprehensive. Whether you’re a comic regular or new to the scene, you’ll be drawn in and swept away by the varied illustration styles and innovative visual storytelling on draft.
Art Metropole, Toronto
88 King St. West, 2nd floor, Toronto, ON, M5V1N6, Canada
This legendary, artist-run non-profit publishes, distributes, and exhibits artists’ publications and other materials. Founded in 1974 by Canadian artist collective General Idea, Art Metropole has always been on the cutting edge of Toronto’s artistic community. Here, you’ll find video, audio, and electronic media carefully set beside bespoke books and thoughtful printed matter on conceptual art, which you can read in between viewings of Art Metropole’s must-see exhibitions and installations.
320 Front Street West, Toronto, Canada, M5V 3B6
Here’s one for the committed collector of Penguin Classics, that famous sixpenny, orange-spined series that has become a 20th-century design icon. Penguin Random House’s first permanent shop is here in the lobby of its Canadian headquarters. It’s packed with 300 titles, branded mugs, notebooks, and brightly colored tees. Toronto-based design studio Figure3 created mobile bookshelving for the tiny space, designed to mimic classic Penguin spines. Better still, company staff—both editors and designers—work the store. Go pick a Penguin.
William Stout Architectural Books
804 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Carrying over 70,000 titles in the fields of architecture, graphic and industrial design and urban planning, William Stout Architectural Books is a vital United States resource for anyone in the creative industry. This space was founded 30 years ago when a former architect decided that the US needed a place that stocked the hard to find tomes he appreciated in Europe. Design professionals will let out heartfelt sighs of admiration as they flip through the rare compendiums that they find here.
Hennessey + Ingalls
300 S Santa Fe Ave M, Los Angeles, CA 90013, USA
Since 1963, Hennessey + Ingalls has been Southern California’s largest and most extensive source for books on all things visual. With thousands of art, interior design, graphics, photography, fashion, gardening, and decorative art books, you’re sure to find anything specific that you’re looking for in this 5,000-square-foot space. In 2016, the shop relocated its entire operation to downtown LA, closing its Santa Monica and Hollywood stores, to become one of the major go-tos in the city’s rapidly developing Arts District.
Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books
2916 N.E. Alberta St., Portland, OR 97211
Old and new beautifully collide in this essential Portland destination, a shop and gallery admired by creative locals for its intriguing mix of contemporary design books and vintage postcards, photographs, and other scraps of inspiring antique ephemera. On this snug spot’s walls you’ll find a monthly rotation of contemporary artworks by local artists and illustrators; and below, a tightly packed inventory of titles are aligned tidily in square wooden shelving units. Between bright tempting books on the functionality of decorated letters or contemporary Polaroid art, you might spy a copy of our very own 99U magazine. Nothing average here.
Dallas’ Joule Hotel, The Taschen Library
1530 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201, USA
Stay at the Joule Hotel in Dallas for some basic rest and recreation, but the smart boutique hotel’s Taschen Library will really send you places. The German publishing company, famous for its collectable books on art, photography, interior design, architecture, film, and fashion, curated this small, cozy shop in 2013, just by the Texan hotel’s lobby. It’s been called the “Joule’s jewel box of a bookshop”. re you’ll find items with a jewel’s price tag too, with some volumes ranging reaching up to $1,000+. Quite a trip.
Image courtesy of Dallas’ Joule Hotel, The Taschen Library.
Graham Foundation Bookshop
4 W Burton Pl, Chicago, IL 60610, USA
Located on the premises of a prestigious art foundation, this bookstore offers a selection of publications produced by grantees along with titles related to its public programming, as well as new forward-thinking books on architecture, urbanism, and design. It also carries monographs, catalogues, and theory-based titles from the likes of Sternberg Press, MIT Press, Spector Books, and the Architectural Association. Designers will swoon at the shop’s white mesh display cases, which snake around the wood paneled room, designed by architect Ania Jaworska.
Horse & Buggy Press and Friends
1116 Broad St, Durham, NC 27705
If you’re in Durham and find yourself pining for some traditional, hand-cranked letterpress goodies, you’re in luck. Look no further than the Horse & Buggy Press and Friends. Two sturdy 1960s Vandercook proof presses sit at the bank of this charming graphic design and book production studio, and at the front of the 500-square foot location, you’ll discover an art gallery and gift-shop (presumably constituting the “…and Friends”). The store showcases work by industrious craftspeople from across the Southeast—whether glass and pottery or printmaking and drawings. There’s also a top-notch selection of books and magazines about all things craft based. Craft enthusiasts who make it there will find plenty to share.
943 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA
No “best bookstore for designers list” is complete without the cultish Ooga Booga, a hidden away second floor shop in LA’s Chinatown that carries a ramshackle mix of books, zines, mixtapes, records, home goods, and apparel. The store programs—from concerts and film screenings to much-anticipated book releases—in its second location, known as Ooga Twooga and located in the art space 356 Mission. You owe it to yourself to boogie on down to Ooga Booga whenever you can.
50 E 500 N Suite 103, Provo, UT 84606, USA
Those with an eye for the deadpan and heavily typographic will undoubtedly find what they’re looking for here. Actual Source is the collaborative design practice of Davis Ngarupe and JP Haynie, and together they create publications, identities, websites, and spaces. But Actual Source also ambitiously collaborates with designers to release limited edition books, magazines, fonts, clothing, and furniture, which they sell at their office space in Provo and online. In the mood for experimental type specimens, that look like no other specimen you’ve ever seen, or a contemporary magazine musing on the Bauhaus? Look no further.
Image courtesy of Actual Source.
31 E Columbia Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125, USA
This Philly bookshop was named after the conceptual book artist and theorist Ulises Carrión, who once said, “a book is a sequence of spaces”. The shop’s owners have taken this idea literally, carefully planning how each book is displayed in the warehouse-style interior of the store. Bookshelves mounted to the wall show off carefully selected tomes like precious paintings, with their covers facing outwards.
Artland Book Company
B1 #122 Jen Ai Road, Sec. 3, Taipei, 10657, Taiwan
This special Taiwanese store has been importing art books from around the world since 1985—making it a global go-to for artists, designers, and art lovers. Stocked from floor to ceiling with weighty art tomes, Artland offers paper-y compendiums on everything from seashells and gardens to Renaissance painting and Taiwanese traditional folk art. Books are arranged in a sleek and modern space, and you’re sure to leave with a new coffee table book (or two).
Daikanyama T-Site, Tokyo, Japan
17-5 Sarugakucho, Shibuya 150-0033, Tokyo Prefecture
If you’re a contemporary Japanese design enthusiast, then T-Site is not to be missed. In a gorgeous modern building, designed from T-shaped bricks, you’ll discover a crisp and unusual selection of design and lifestyle books and products. The stores’ curators match books with other items with pleasing care: one blogger has recounted how beside a recipe book for Japanese shaved ice, the store sells locally produced glasses to house the dessert; next to tomes on obscure psychedelic illustrators, you’ll apparently find matching tea cup sets; beside books on historical artists, you’ll discover a series of figurines inspired by them. If the afternoon isn’t enough time to make all your discoveries, you’re in luck: this shop is open until 2am.
Basheer Graphic Books
Bras Basah Complex #04-19, 231 Bain St, Singapore 180231
You’ll find this legendary store in the Bras Basah Complex of Singapore, a mall area with the largest number of bookstores in a single complex in the country. Catering specifically to designers and artists, it’s here you’ll be able to find any book from any discipline that you’re looking for, whether calligraphy, animation, interior design, or graphics. Get lost in this creative community haunt to find what you’re looking for.
The Book Society
22 Jahamun-ro 10-gil, Sajik-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
There is no better place to find books designed and published by graphic designers for graphic designers than this South Korean independent shop and publishing house. One might go so far as to say it is a wonderland of design. Bold, purple posters fill the walls. Tables are stacked high with curiously bound publications of every color imaginable. Those with a love of experimental typography and unusual paper stocks will feel right at home. Deeply informed by the use of printed materials by conceptual artists of the 1960s, The Book Society is interested in printed matter as both cultural artifact and network.
Art & Design Bookstore, Mumbai
04 Ramnimi, Mandlik Road, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India
A five-minute walk through the Kalaghoda art precinct, which houses historical museums and art galleries, you’ll spot this small boutique, which is stacked with striking design volumes. Elegantly tiled floors and sturdy shelving make this space perfect for some contemplation. Take your time taking in the eclectic journals from all around the world as well as catalogues by local artists. For practicing designers inspired by what they find, the store also sells artisan notebooks and sketchbooks.
Vişnezade Mahallesi, Süleyman Seba Cd. 52/A, 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
Make sure you have plenty of time when you visit Minoa. In this bookstore and café, a whole day can pass by without you even noticing. Hours might be spent browsing the political comics from Turkey’s thriving new comic scene, or peeling back the pages of sleek architecture compendiums situated under the store’s great chandelier, which are adorned with books. Minoa organizes regular reading events and pop-up concerts, which you can enjoy with a glass of Turkish wine or an intense expresso. We also hear that the breakfast shakshouka is very good. See you in a week.
294 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066, Australia
This concept store in the heart of Melbourne’s thriving creative neighborhood caters to the design-minded with its impressive array of art books, modern homeware, and specially selected stationary. You might leave Happy Valley with a classic coffee-table-sized book on Australia’s contemporary gardens and a matching terrarium, or you might be more attracted to the latest Monocle guide and a sea-scented candle. Happy Valley is the ideal place to mix and match your books with your lifestyle.
Perimeter Books, Melbourne
748 High St, Thornbury VIC 3071, Australia
Celebrating independent publishing is what Perimeter Books says it’s all about. Focusing on small press titles, well-crafted design books, and home-grown zines, this clean and bright treasure trove is a go-to for the book-lover meets minimalist. Simple wooden shelves present books with their covers pointed outwards, so that each beautifully produced tome is akin to an objects d’art itself.
Do You Read Me?!
Auguststraße 28, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Wandering the German capital, you’ll perhaps notice the number of people with typographic tote bags reading “Do You Read Me?!” slung over their shoulders. Those with an eye for design should take heed and follow the signs. They will lead you to the bellwether of independent magazine retail, Do You Read Me?!, founded by graphic designer, Mark Kiessling and store manager, Jessica Reitz. At the front of the shop, black walls with black shelving show off each carefully selected magazine as if it were an artwork. At the back, there’s a small yet intelligently curated selection of specialist design and architecture books. Not to be missed, and yes, we read you.
Image courtesy of Do You Read Me?!
Skalitzer Str. 68, 10997 Berlin, Germany
Hidden in the back of a typical Berlin courtyard and traceable by the sound of experimental music streaming from its door, Motto is filled with singular finds. Its selection is especially on point because Motto the store belongs to Motto the distribution company, which spreads art catalogues and independent periodicals worldwide. The shop’s focus is on photography, design, theory, and art books, and at the back of its Kreuzberg location you’ll also find a curious selection of zines (and possibly the store’s snoozing black cat). Niche titles sit alongside titles released by international publishers, are scattered in an order that, wonderfully, seems to lack any rhyme or reason.
Melkmarkt 17, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium
Located in Antwerp’s historic city center is IMS Melkmarkt: a magazine store reckoned to stock over 10,000 titles. If that sounds like a lot of magazines to fit into one place, that’s because it is. You won’t find much empty space in this wonderfully jam-packed store. It stocks stimulating international titles from all over, seemingly including anything you set your heart on. If you fancy a trip, bring the whole family: there’s a section of train themed magazines here for granddad, a tattoo section for your niece, and a little collection of potted plant books for the estranged cousin who has just got into landscape gardening.
Carrer d'en Tantarantana, 16, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Those who visit Chandal say it’s like a visit to the past, in a good way. This retro concept shop specializes in Polaroid cameras, records, and independent magazines, which are all stylishly arranged on wooden shelving with requisite vintage charm. Chandal is unique in that it’s one of the few places in the world where you can buy a specialist photography magazine and then a special camera to imitate what you see in the pages. We’d say the interior is pretty snap-shot worthy too. Smile!
Under the Cover
Marquês Sá da Bandeira 88B, 1050-060 Lisboa, Portugal
This lovely restorative spot in Lisbon, very close to the Modern Art Center, is a breath of fresh modernism in an otherwise defiantly historical city. Its white-washed walls, mid-century furniture, and carefully curated selection of art and design magazines and books are a clean and mind refreshing break from the twisting, cobble-stoned streets outside. Here you’ll discover the latest copy of Apartamento, Monocle, or 99U itself, as well as unexpected city guides and beautifully packaged contemporary ephemera that that will set your collecting pulse racing.
Landemærket 9, 1119 København K, Denmark
There’s no better place to find books on graphic design and illustration than a store owned by a graphic designer and an illustrator. This one contains thoughtfully hand-picked international books by Berlin Gestalten Verlag as well as home-printed postcards, bespoke notebooks, and countless publications on architecture, graffiti, graphics, and fashion. Situated in a basement in the magnificent historic district of Copenhagen, this hidden gem is an inspiring break from the usual tourist activities.
Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6, 20121 Milano MI, Italy
This modern bookstore, situated inside the La Triennale di Milano art and design museum, brands itself as a home for those who want to learn about the “culture of design”. Its carefree interior was created by Italy’s infamous Michele De Lucchi, including the bespoke tables where books are elegantly stacked. Specializing in Italian art publishing but also stocking numerous international books, you’ll find your way in this open, brightly lit space by the chalk signage informing you where “design” or “fashion” is kept. Triennale also has a playful and charming section of art and design books for children, making this a prime spot for any designer family out on a day trip in Northern Italy.
Spui 14, 1012 RM Amsterdam, Netherlands
Situated next door to the renowned independent bookstore Atheneum is a luscious newsstand brimming with printed matter under a striking red and white awning. It’s been open since 1969, when it stocked independent publishing and small zines by the punk and anarchist movements. Back then, a studio in the back hosted its own radio show. Today, the newsstand still dedicates itself to independent publishing and small zines from around the globe, and it displays its huge stock of titles in stacks like “vegetables at the greengrocer.”
Image courtesy of Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum.
Berenstraat 16, 1016 GH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Boekie Woekie (or “Bookie Wookie”) only sells books by artists, whether that’s thick, hand-painted, one-off tomes or miniature, self-published curiosities photocopied by the art underground. A collective of artists founded the shop 23 years ago as an experiment, and now it’s become a place for serendipity, for finding something you didn’t know you wanted or something you’ve always wanted but could never find. According to the New York Times, the bestseller at Boekie Woekie is a vacuum cleaner bag full of dust from old books, just in case you don’t have book dust enough at home.
Dominicanerkerkstraat 1, 6211 CZ Maastricht, Netherlands
The building of Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen, a former church that dates from 1294, now houses three-story bookshelves, complete with staircases, elevators, and gorgeous walkways. Restored frescoes adorn the vaulted ceiling and we’ve heard that music streams from the choir café, where readers bend over historic architecture tomes. This old world space was transformed into a bookstore by architects Merkx+Girod in 2007. It’s become a destination for those with a romantic love of books and historic design.
Grand'Rue 6, 1071 Chexbres, Switzerland
This charming Swiss bookstore, perched on the hillside of a village, dedicates itself to all things visual inspiration. Here you’ll find publications on Japanese paper design, meticulously illustrated books detailing various types of herbs, guides to interior design, and gorgeous hardbacks filled with advice for home crafting. In addition to its impressive selection of design related titles, it’s said that this is one of the best stockists for independent magazines in Europe.
Köchlistrasse 5, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland
Established in 2001, Swiss publishing house Nieves Books has released over 200 artist books and zines. You might recognize the company’s beloved ghost logo if you’re an avid zine reader or an arts-comic enthusiast. Or you might have spotted it on one of the store’s ubiquitous totes. During your next trip to Zurich, be sure to stop by the Nieves offices and say hello.
280 Boulevard Michelet, Unité d'habitation Le Corbusier, 13008 Marseille, France
There can be no better location for a design-minded bookstore than the third floor of Le Corbusier’s world famous Cité Radieuse. It’s a perfect place for books on modernism: inside an icon of late modernism itself. This third floor corridor, also known to residents as a “street”, also houses a bakery, an art gallery, and a restaurant. In Editions Imbernon you’ll find a special selection of books dedicated to the life and work of Le Corbusier, as well as other 20th and 21st century architecture, art, and urbanism tomes.
Římská 1199/35, 120 00 Prague 2-Vinohrady, Czech Republic
Plenty of soothing white space, and a lot of potted plants greet you when you enter this palace of calm in the heart of Prague. All of the visually led hardcovers stocked in Book Therapy focus, in some way, on serenity and quietude, whether a thick photobook about mountain peaks, a guide to country living, Phaidon’s book on art as therapy, or a relaxing compendium on pottery. It’s ideal for the design-inclined bookworm, looking for some peace of mind and a little bit of targeted therapy.
Veverkova 5, 170 00 Prague 7, Czech Republic
Next to the ornamental facades of this historic European city, PageFive’s simple, white washed interior stands out. This bookshop and independent publisher, founded by a graphic designer and sculptor, specializes in art, architecture, photography, and design publications. It also stocks independent magazines in English and Czech. Vibrant prints, designed by local students, are for sale here, pegged onto hangers and hung in the windows like inky, bold flags.
Põhja puiestee 35, 10415 Tallinn, Estonia
Two giant heads stacked atop a former garage greet you as you walk down the driveway towards this hidden gem. Perched on the premises of the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia. This unexpected bookstore specializes in art books in the broadest sense, and brings together printed matter by international, independent publishers. It's run by graphic designer Indrek Sirkel and artist, Anu Vahtra. They also front a small independent publishing initiative of the same name. On warm summer days, you’ll find a number of plush red chairs in the driveway as Indrek and Any prepare for one of Lugemik’s book launches.
Image courtesy of Lugemik.
Krukmakargatan 24, 118 51 Stockholm, Sweden
Here’s another one for the magazine devotee. In the Södermalm district of central Stockholm, surrounded by small bars and independent coffee breweries, you’ll find this mecca for anyone interested in editorial design. It’s packed from floor to ceiling with paper-y goods, with one entire wall dedicated purely to magazines. You’ll also find a lot of design books and stationary here.
5 St Margaret's Pl, Glasgow G1 5JY, UK
The Good Press Gallery and bookstore was created to support international independent printed matter. As well as hosting exhibitions, self-publishing residencies, and talks, this Scottish art space has a sprawling zine collection beyond one’s wildest dreams. Tucked under a railway arch, you’ll find a number of lo-fi publications here, as well as posters and hand-printed artworks by local designers and art students. Prices are surprisingly affordable, making it a wonderful spot to purchase original artwork for buyers on the hunt for a bargain.
270 St John St, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 4PE, UK
They call this the cathedral of contemporary magazine worship for a reason… The brainchild of creative director Jeremy Leslie, who has been designing magazines or writing about magazine design for more than 25 years, magCulture is the place to go (and the place to be seen) if you’re an independent magazine enthusiast. Looking for a magazine for the creative dog owner? They’ve got it. Looking for a magazine for your misunderstood red-head nephew? They’ve got it. Not sure what you’re looking for but know that you’re looking for something? They’ve got it. With an online shop and journal featuring weekly reviews of what’s in stock, magCulture is not only a place to visit when you’re in London, but also a place to visit—digitally—whenever you like. Go!
6 Cecil Ct, London WC2N 4HE, UK
A quick meander from London’s busy Trafalgar Square is Tenderbooks, a quiet space for independent artist publications and unique design books. Publication launches, group readings, and other events take place here on a weekly basis, and next-door you’ll find the Tenderpixel contemporary art gallery. At the front of the store, you’ll find a display case that changes monthly, exhibiting personal libraries and rare artist ephemera. Tenderbooks frequently commission limited editions to support experimental publishing.
24 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JN, UK
Magma has three memorable locations, two in London and one in the bustling artistic Northern Quarter of Manchester. Since it first opened its doors in Covent Garden in 2000, the shop has been quite the go-to for design professionals and visual culture enthusiasts, especially as it’s one of the first design boutiques of its kind in the UK. As well as selling affordable prints, one-of-a-kind t-shirts and totes, Moomin clocks, nick knacks, and enticing hand-crafted stationary, the three unmissable locations also stock comics, design coffee table tomes, and playful picture books. One of the owners also founded contemporary art magazine Elephant in 2009. Last but not least, Magma’s collaborations with publishing house Laurence King ensures a continual stream of compelling gifts, games, sketchbooks, and impressively decorated journals.
Pańska 3, 00-124 Warszawa, Poland
This tall and brightly lit shop of art-related books is located on the breezy ground floor of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. In just a few square meters, this store manages to miraculously fit hundreds of titles along its walls. Its café sells traditional Polish pierogi. If you really love the taste, just around the corner you’ll find Bookoff’s sister location—Cookoff—which is devoted to food-related titles (and where they apparently safeguard the pierogi recipe).
Salon Fuer Kunstbuch
Luftbadgasse 16, 1060 Vienna, Austria
It feels like you’re entering into a dense cloud when you walk into this industrial gray art bookstore in the Austrian capital. The books, extremely rare, are arranged by color, drift into focus like a rainbow in the fog. Some of the out-of-print editions are not for sale, making the Salon somewhat of a gallery too. The store regularly hosts exhibitions and artist talks, in the tradition of great European salons of the past.
Barão de Capanema, 199 Cerqueira César, São Paulo, 01411-011, Brazil
Located between a cemetery and a huge store specializing in chandeliers–between light and dark, as it were–you’ll find this mysterious bookstore stocking imported fashion, decoration, and design paraphernalia. Ring the bell of the tiny purple building and you’ll be invited in by the expert staff, who are open to giving carefully considered recommendations. The corridor-shaped shop is filled with bright turquoise, ornamental cabinets and plush red chairs, like a surreal portal taking you from the outside world to another one of words and images.
Córdoba 25, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
You’ll enjoy browsing through Casa Bosques’ intelligent selection of design, art, theory, and fashion titles. Kick back and read in one of the store’s casual Jean Prouvé chairs, among succulents and ferns. The shop is inside a whitewashed, renovated home. You might stumble across the store’s resident dog, napping amidst the ferns. Casa Bosques obtains its idiosyncratic selection of titles through independent publishers and alternative distribution channels. The gems stocked there are difficult to find anywhere else. Locals recommend the homemade chocolate bars, too.
Image courtesy of Casa Bosques.
Quagga Rare Books and Art
84/86 Main Rd, Fish Hoek, Cape Town, 7990, South Africa
For collectable Africana art books, magazines, and antique maps, you could do a lot worse than this small speciality shop, which many describe as “more like a small museum” than bookstore. The historic “collection” sells paintings, watercolors, prints, and unique documents, alongside contemporary South African art and photography books and second-hand international titles. Logo design enthusiasts will find one-off rarities, like an album of matchbox labels, and those with a love of illustration might be drawn to the brochure for a botanical art exhibition held in Cape Town in the ’80s.
More about Madeleine Morley
Madeleine Morley is a design and architecture writer based in Berlin. She studied English literature at Cambridge University and went on to complete an MA in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She has written for Creative Review, AIGA, Monotype, magCulture, AnOther, and The Guardian among others.