‘My father started the shop with 1,000 books from his personal collection, acquired under the GI Bill, but he would lend out as many as he would sell – he was never interested in making money. He was interested in creating a space where people could mingle, exchange ideas and get inspired. It’s an immediate community – real, not virtual – that anyone can become part of.’—Sylvia Whitman, owner of Shakespeare and Company in Paris
Independent bookstores are so much more than just cute little places to buy books. Each is also a reflection of the thoughts, opinions and tastes of the owner – like a scrapbook or a diary that anyone can peer inside. They are paper towns unto themselves and a refuge for book lovers around the world.
Many of them are also incredibly beautiful, as shown by new photobook ‘Bookstores: A Celebration of Independent Booksellers’, by author Stuart Husband and photographer Horst A. Friedrichs.
The popular image of the indie bookshop may be of a dimly lit backstreet room piled high with battered volumes – and there are plenty of charming places like that. But this book shows that there are a load of snazzier and more contemporary shops out there too. The authors guarantee that all bookshops featured have impeccable book selections, but they are also relaxing places to just hang out – and, bonus, they’ll look pretty fabulous on your Insta feed.
So, ready to fuel your literary lust? From a dairy-turned-book barn in Pennsylvania to a church in Maastricht that’s been converted into a secular temple to literature, here are ten of the world’s most gorgeous independent bookstores, with photos by Friedrichs and a brief description in the booksellers’ own words.