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Amsterdam has a rich history of bookshops and printing. At the height of golden age in the seventeenth century, there were an estimated four hundred bookshops and roughly a hundred publishers. During this time, about 30 percent of the world’s published books in the seventeenth century came out of Amsterdam.

While these numbers are from a bygone era, there is still remnants of this industry with several notable establishments that continue to uphold the literary legacy. Here are the best bookshops to visit in Amsterdam.

The American Book Center

The American Book Center

The American Book Center

Not to be missed, is Amsterdam’s flagship bookstore. Although it may give the impression of being part of a chain, this Amsterdam gem is actually independently and family-run that has been around since 1972.
If you want the best selection of English books, this is the place to visit. The layout is enormous and visually stunning. The shelves stretch out endlessly with beautiful details and a gorgeous spiral staircase adorned with books.
Bonus marks for the Betty Book Machine where authors and publish and sell their own books. You can also pick up a surprise book wrapped up in brown paper.

Overview: A family-run bookshop with a pleasant and inviting layout featuring books in English.
Address: Spui 12, 1012 XA Amsterdam


Best bookshops to visit in Amsterdam

Waterstones in Amsterdam

British visitors will be familiar with Waterstones, the largest bookshop chain in the UK.
It has impressive collection of new books across all genres, spread across four floors. You’ll also find a nice variety of gifts, stationery, and games. Moreover, they have a fantastic assortment of books set in Holland including Dutch fiction translated to English and books about living and working in Holland.

Overview: A large mainstream UK retailer that encourages browsing with a friendly staff.
Address: Kalverstraat 152, 1012 XE Amsterdam


Best bookstores in Amsterdam

Scheltema bookshop Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s biggest bookshop is just steps from the hustle and bustle of Dam Square. The enormous space occupies five floors and is one of the biggest bookstores in Europe.
There is a vast collection of every genre including an entire floor dedicated to English books. There are plenty of modern classics and the top floor is where you can find second hand books.
The store has an attractive design, with plenty of nestled spots and welcoming armchairs for you to cozy up with a book. If you’re in need of a warm beverage to ward off the chill, there’s also a café.

Overview: Enormous urban bookstore since 1853, offering many new and used titles and features a coffee shop, just steps from Dam Square.
Address: Rokin 9, 1012 KK Amsterdam

Athenaeum Bookstore & News Center

Atheneaum Bookstore

Atheneaum Nieuwscentrum

The Athenaeum Bookstore & News Center first opened its doors in 1966. They have a unique collection of Dutch and foreign-language literature, history, politics, and an esteemed classical antiquity department.
Magazine aficionados will love the News Center, acclaime for its beautifully crafted (international) magazines that cannot be found elsewhere. This perfect fusion has transformed Athenaeum Bookstore & News Center into the ultimate haven for bookworms and culture enthusiasts in Amsterdam.

Overview: Unique selection of Dutch literature, but also literature in other languages, history, politics and a section on classical antiquity. The News Center is a heaven for magazine lovers.
Address: Spui 14-16, 1012 XA Amsterdam

The Book Exchange

The Book Exchange

The Book Exchange

A favourite among many native English-speaking locals, The Book Exchange is easily the best place to find second-hand English books. An unassuming spot that can be easily missed while on a stroll, this quintessential canal house is converted into a maze of books spanning three floors.
The shop prides itself on its meticulous organization which covers all genres. This is a great place to dedicate some time if you’re eager to go on a treasure hunt.

Overview: The largest selection of secondhand English in Europe displayed across 3 floors in a cozy environment.
Address: Kloveniersburgwal 58, 1012 CX Amsterdam

Other bookstores worth considering

There are several bookstores that could be included in the list. However, apart from the top suggestions, here are a couple of other bookshops that cater to specific interests and make a great addition to your visit.

Henk Comics

Henk Comics bookshop in Amsterdam

Located in Amsterdam’s China town, this is a must-visit if you’re a fan of manga and comic books. They specialize in both new and second-hand copies, catering to all graphic novel enthusiasts. You’ll find an array of figures of your favorite characters, along with a collection of new books in both English and Japanese.

Happy Bookieman

Happy Bookieman book store in Amsterdam

This place is unlike any other book store in Amsterdam. Quirky and cozy, with books stacked in piles within a dimly lit place. This can only be complimented by the friendly and eclectic owner who might just light up a joint. You can find dirt-cheap prices on a random selection of used books in both Dutch and English.


Mendo Bookstore in Amsterdam

Located inside the posh De L’Europe hotel, the space is both aesthetically stunning and sleek in its design. They have a curated collection of coffee-table style books that focus on photography, fashion, travel, lifestyle, culinary arts, interior design, architecture, and graphic design.

New English Bookstore

The English Bookshop Amsterdam

Pay a visit to the New English Bookstore if you’re looking for affordable English books in Amsterdam. While they may not have the very latest releases, they offer a decent selection of popular titles ranging from children’s books to young adult, general fiction, and classics.

Website: Not available
Address: Kalverstraat 223, 1012 XC

Spui Book Market

If you enjoy browsing through book stalls for books, then consider a visit to the Spui Book Market. While it mainly caters to tourists, there are still a few interesting, vintage books available in Dutch, French, and English. Moreover, there’s a chance of stumbling upon some pretty cool antique maps and inexpensive prints.

Overview: Vintage books for sale in Dutch, French and English, along with maps and prints.
Hours: Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Address: Het Spui, 1012 WX Amsterdam

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