6 Amsterdam bookstores to fall in love with
For English speakers looking for a fun city to visit in Europe, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Amsterdam, Netherlands. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful city, and every Amsterdam street is a postcard perfect view: canals, row houses with gabled roofs, and bicycles galore.
It's easy to navigate your way around Amsterdam as an English speaker, because nearly everyone speaks perfect English there! The added bonus for those of us with a book-focused inclination is that there are plenty of bookstores here to find English language books for that perfect Amsterdam souvenir.
So next time you're in Amsterdam, grab yourself a fresh stroopwaffel (trust me), and get ready to spend an afternoon exploring some of these unique and fun Amsterdam bookshops that are perfect for English language speakers.
Don't forget to pin this blog post for later:
The Book Exchange
Kloveniersburgwal 58, 1012 CX Amsterdam
My number one recommendation for an Amsterdam bookshop is the Book Exchange. It's a maze-like store filled entirely of second-hand English language books. Just when you think you’ve gotten to the end of the shelves, you find another level to explore.
This Amsterdam bookstore has a great selection of hardcover fiction and literature at the front of the shop, but don’t miss the even larger collection of fiction and literature paperbacks upstairs (where it’s also likely to be less crowded).
I love finding unique categorizations and sections in bookstores, and my favorite at The Book Exchange was the section dedicated to travel literature. I wanted to buy up the entire stock but limited myself to one book. I did get lots of ideas to add on my TBR pile, though (it’s meant to be infinite, right?).
The Book Exchange is a great place to spend an afternoon if you're looking for an English bookstore in Amsterdam and appreciate a great secondhand find. If you prefer to buy brand new books, keep reading; I've got some shops on this list for you!
The American Book Center
Spui 12, 1012 XA Amsterdam
The American Book Center is an Amsterdam bookshop founded more than 40 years ago. And it's not just historic; it's enormous!
Whereas The Book Exchange is the Amsterdam bookshop to hit for used books, come to the American Book Centre for the best selection of new English language books in Amsterdam.
This bookshop includes three full floors of new English language books, including a great selection of niche books: art books, travel books, science fiction, coffee table books, comic books, and more. There’s also a cafe inside for those who need a caffeine break and to dive into their latest book find without delay.
I love the architectural details inside this beautiful Amsterdam bookshop, including trees integrated into shelves and a massive book wall along the stairs that gives the impression of a book waterfall.
Overall, I'd call the American Book Center one of the best Amsterdam bookshops to spend an hour... or two... or three... browsing.
Herenstraat 39, 1015 BZ Amsterdam
Whenever I'm looking for bookstores or sharing a list of ones to visit, I make sure to seek out the lesser known, hidden gems. Antiquariat Lont is one of those hidden gems of an Amsterdam bookshop. I might have missed it entirely if I hadn’t been ogling the tilting row house across the street and turned around to catch the beautiful window display.
You won't find it on many lists of Amsterdam bookstores or on social media. It's just there, without fuss, but with lots of charm,
This bookshop's size may be lilliputian, but it's stuffed to the rafters with antique books and eye-catching etchings and art prints. I walked away with a lovely pop-up edition of A Christmas Carol and a recommendation on a local Dickens festival from the lovely bookshop owner.
There aren't too many English language books to find in this quaint Amsterdam bookshop, but I still think anyone who appreciates antiquarian books and prints will find this cute shop to be a worthwhile stop.
If you're looking for a bookstore in Amsterdam that's off the beaten track and high on charm, check out Antiquariat Lont. If you pop in for a browse you may also end up meeting the owner's two small, friendly dogs. A cute bookstore pet is always a bonus in my book.
Amsterdam Book Markets
For those who like to browse for books at stalls, Amsterdam does have a couple of book markets worth visiting. European book markets are always a highlight of any city I visit (like the bouquinistes in Paris). Here are two book markets to check out in Amsterdam.
Oudemanhuispoort Book Market
This Amsterdam book market is in a covered alleyway near the University of Amsterdam in the oldest part of the city. Its vendors are stocked with a sizable selection of primarily second-hand books. You'll find a respectable number of English language volumes and will likely find yourself browsing along with university students in this hidden gem.
When I visited, only a few stalls were open, but it was enough for me to imagine what more it would be on a normal book market day in Amsterdam. It is a must visit for anyone searching for bookshops in Amsterdam.
Note that the market is closed Sundays.
Spui Book Market
Het Spui, 1012 WSZ Amsterdam
This compact book market is open on Fridays from 10 am to 6 pm. While some say it's become a tourist-driven market featuring primarily low-cost prints for sale, you may still find some interesting rare, vintage, and antiquarian books in Dutch, French, and English. You might also find some antique maps, posters, and prints.
Amsterdam isn’t short on bookstores, but there’s something special about browsing through stalls and stalls of books en plein air.
Westerstraat 15, 1015 LT Amsterdam
Island Bookstore is a cute bookstore in Amsterdam's popular Jordaan neighborhood. Coming from Hawaii, I have to admit I wasn't sure what to expect from the name alone!
This Amsterdam bookshop specializes primarily in new books in Dutch, but there is a small English language section.
This is a nice pleasant bookshop to spend some time browsing for new books, with multiple floors to explore and a nice children's section, too. If you can read Dutch, you will have much to keep your attention here. Even if you don't, it's an aesthetically agreeable place to escape from that bitter winter cold or that ever pervasive smell of pot in the Amsterdam streets.
Kloveniersburgwal 86, Amsterdam
Amsterdam's Perdu Bookstore proudly lauds itself as the only specialized poetry bookstore in the Netherlands. They sell Dutch and international poetry as well as experimental and progressive poetry.
This Amseterdam institution is not simply a bookshop; it's also a literary center of Amsterdam as well as a small publishing house (much like City Lights in San Francisco and Shakespeare and Co. in Paris).
This bookshop has its own small theatre, in which they host regular literary events, called De Avonden ("the evenings"). These weekly literary events focus on showcasing innovative developments in literature "and to explore the relationships between literature and its surrounding artistic, cultural and social developments."
If you're interested in the future of writing and literature, be sure to visit this unique Amsterdam bookshop.
That concludes my list of 6 Amsterdam bookshops to fall in love with, especially for English language speakers. I'll never claim any of my lists to be exhaustive, but if you're a book lover in Amsterdam, this list is a great place to start for your book shopping explorations.
What other Amsterdam bookshops do you love? Leave them in the comments.
And don't forget to pin this post for your next trip to Amsterdam.