Ah, the tinge of paper on your fingers, a hint of spice in the air, the vibrant colors of the illustrations, the excitement of embarking on an adventure between the pages – book lovers shall never forget the feeling of a bookstore.
Photo by: Radu Marcusu, Unsplash
Did you know that books smell like vanilla? Lignin, which is present in all wood-based paper, is closely related to vanillin. As it breaks down, the lignin grants old books that faint vanilla scent. Nothing, absolutely nothing can match the magical smell that comes out of books. Undoubtedly, pressing your nose against Kindle or an iPad isn’t the same.
Sad that nowadays the book buyers all over the world settle for online shopping, it’s just so easy to embark on yet another Amazon shopping spree. But we all know that buying from your corner bookshop helps the local economy. The book industry is such a delicate ecosystem. Supporting independent bookstores keeps the ecosystem healthy, because independent bookstores support independent publishers. Also, discoverability is so essential but difficult when buying books online. For those who want to discover and support new writers, rather than waiting for big releases, independent bookstores tend to be a better option. And don’t forget the wonderful readings and other events that the local bookshops host.
These Berlin-based book heavens are among our favorites. If you still like the convenience of browsing book titles at home, you can currently pre-order from many of these shops online and then opt-in for a pickup or a home delivery.
This bookstore won the Deutscher Buchhandlungspreis (German Bookstore Price) in 2015. Located directly under the S-Bahn and in the middle of the bustling Savignyplatz, it’s a calming escape into another dimension with books focusing on art, fashion, design, and photography, including a unique collection of art exhibition catalogues from 1945 on. The shop also hosts film evenings, readings, and expositions.
Situated between Torstrasse and Invalidenstrasse, it’s hard to miss this large, modern, oak-paneled bookstore created by a local designer Martina Zeyen. There’s an in-store coffee bar with delicious cake and many books in foreign languages, which you can read in a lounge area. The bookstore is connected with the library of Berlin-Mitte district, and its book dealers regularly organize remarkable literary events. A great selection of children’s books can also be found here.
Started by a French photographer Alexis Zavialoff in 2007, this bookshop was initially a temporary travelling pop-up and specialized in magazines and fanzines, which now comprise more than 20,000 titles in its permanent location in Kreuzberg. A major focus of Motto today is books from international distributors and smaller self-published items, including a wide selection of artists’ publications and more experimental projects in very small editions. There’s a special program dedicated to different discussions, screenings and presentations about art, graphic design, photography, typography and other related topics.
Roman and Laurel Kratochvila have been running Shakespeare and Sons on Warschauer Strasse since 2011. It has it all: a large assortment of English-language books, interesting people from around the world, delicious coffee and New York style bagels from Fine Bagels, boiled and baked fresh every day by Laurel, and plenty of space to work, people watch or read. Did you know, Laurel’s baked goods were featured in Unorthodox?
If you want to get lost amongst its many bookshelves and multiple floors, yet find books almost on any topic, head out to the largest bookstore in Berlin. On 7,000 square meters you will find a wide range books, including all sorts of classics and best-sellers, books about Berlin, sheet music, board games, stationary and many other distinctive items. For more than 20 years, Dussmann has been one of the most known stores for locals and tourists alike. There’s, of course, a café and even a beautiful vertical garden located against a wall in the middle of the store. Our tip: combine your book shopping with a visit to the Christmas market at the Gendarmenmarkt.
The newest kid on Kottbusser Damm, this bookstore, which opened in 2020, serves amazing specialty coffee and exclusively sells literature by female and queer authors. With over 1,300 titles that inspire and educate, there are classics, children’s books, as well as exciting non-fiction selection on topics from climate change to racial justice, from women’s rights to body positivity.
Boasting a diverse selection of contemporary international magazines, themed journals and books, this sleek gem on Auguststrasse is located among Berlin’s many art galleries. It focuses on photography, fashion, architectures, design, music, and other art subjects. Here you will find many Taschen and other gorgeous coffee table books, that will make a perfect Berlin-style gift for any artsy connoisseur out there.
In this bookshop, located between Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, you will find many distinct books. The store offers a generous selection of international and German literature, ranging from new authors to best sellers and sensations. There are cookbooks, crime novels, biographies, children’s books, what’s not. There’s even a Berlinalia corner with books about Berlin.