'If one of life's greatest pleasures is travel, and the other is books, then a site that promises to marry the two sounds just ideal and very necessary indeed'.
Alain de Botton on Literarytourist.com
A Word about the Listings
We don't claim to be comprehensive. That's impossible. Our goal is simply to provide like-minded travelling book-lovers with details on as many places of literary interest as we can find.
Since 'Opening Hours' for shops, museums etc. and 'Dates,' for festivals and readings tend to change with rapid regularity, we shy away from listing them, prefering instead to provide you with links to their websites, where typically you'll find the most accurate, up-to-date information.
We believe that good used/antiquarian bookstores will be of greatest interest to Literary Tourists because each is unique, filled with selections of books found nowhere else. Independent bookstores are interesting primarily for the events, readings and signings they hold.
This site, then, goes heavy on these kind of shops. Our database of North American used/antiquarian bookstores comes from the Book Hunter Press (BHP), a small publishing firm established in 1993 by David and Susan Siegel. Inspired by Drif’s Guide to the Secondhand & Antiquarian Bookshops in Britain, BHP published seven North American regional Used Book Lover’s Guides with the goal of making them ‘the Frommers of the used books world.’ Filled with listings and reviews, they served as travel guides for book lovers who enjoyed browsing used bookstores.
In late 2009 Nigel Beale acquired the company and spent the following year refining and updating its database, adding thousands of additional used and indie bookstores, literary landmarks, bookfairs, writers’ festivals, rare book libraries and other literary destinations, events and activities from around the world.
You wont find every bookstore on the planet here but you will find a good selection of the most noteworthy. Because stores are constantly closing and, at a slower pace, opening, our listings will not always be up-to-date; our intent is to give you as good an idea of what's out there as we can; to provide a starting point - a resource to help you plan your literary trips. Once you reach your destinations the best thing you can do is to check-in with one of the locally listed stores and ask for the 'ground-level' scoop.
Indie Bookstores listed here have, in most cases, been chosen, as mentioned, for their award-winning events programing, service or selection, their 'extraordinary' beauty or historical significance, or, in the case of stores located in non-English-speaking countries, the fact that they carry a decent stock of English-language books. We also list shops in these countries that carry books that we think might appeal to the collector.
Festivals and BookfairsToo much of a Sisyphian task to try to keep up with the precise dates of all of these events, so we've done our best to list the Months in which they take place. For specific dates we've provided direct links to the websites. Searching the site by Month will give you a good idea of what's going on when, so that you can plan your trips accordingly.
Some Literary Tourist listing definitions:
Writers' and 'Literary' festivals
These are events that typically involve author/audience interaction: readings, Q&As, panel discussions, books signings. "Bookfairs" are sales put on by Antiquarian booksellers where you'll find rare books, first editions, and various other treasures. The publishing industry puts on 'bookfairs' in Frankfurt, London and elsewhere. These are forums for people in the trade to get together to do business. Authors signings and panel discussions and readings do take place however, so we've included events such as these under our 'Writers Festival' category.
Rare Book Libraries/Museums
This category is comprised mainly of National Libraries and Special Collections Libraries where you'll find rare and beautiful books. We've also included here printing, papermaking, typography and other such related museums, along with some writers' houses that might contain libraries.
TheatreWe're biased. We love Shakespeare, so you'll find more than your fair share of Bard-centric threatre companies here, in addition to other 'serious' minded troupes. We're also keen on beautiful buildings, so this too is a focus.
FilmWe've included listings of film festivals because smart, artistic, 'literary' movies are typically shown at events such as these.
Listings are FreeUpgrade options, designed to help stores, organizations and events to attract more visitors, are available for a small fee. A limited number of category and geography-exclusive advertising opportunities are also available.
Every effort is made to ensure that listing information on literarytourist.com is accurate. Things change however, often without notice - bookstores close or post new hours, festivals shift dates, bookfairs move venues - so please, before you travel, make sure you confirm relevant details directly with the places you plan to visit.
About Literary TouristLiterarytourist.com houses a big searchable directory of bookstores, literary destinations, activities and events from all around the world. It's filled with detailed reviews and information designed to help book-lovers plan their travel.
Search for the city you'd like to go to, and you get a map that shows the locations of bookstores (new and used), literary cafes, rare book libraries, writers' houses, and other interesting literary places worth visiting.
Current monthly web stats Average of 75,000* unique visits.
Most site visitors live in the United States, Canada and the UK. Thousands of book-lovers from around the world visit literarytourist.com every month.
* Based on Google’s Urchin Analytics program.
Born out of a passion for collecting books, hunting through used/antiquarian bookstores, attending author readings, visiting rare book libraries, and generally enjoying the literary things in life, Literarytourist.com was launched in 2010 by writer, broadcaster, bibliophile Nigel Beale. Watch the TED Talk here.