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5 Unmissable Bookstores in Amsterdam


The city of Amsterdam is lined with beautiful canals, cobblestoned streets and picturesque old houses.

These beautiful scenes provide for a lovely experience to lounge by the river bank with a nice book or sit at the café by the canal with your drink of choice.

There is a huge number of English-speaking residents in the city hence the demand for English language literature for this population.

Many booksellers sell English books, magazines and other literature in the city.

Once done with the day trips and the electric nightlife of the city and in need of a chill place to read or buy a book, we have the list of bookshops that you can visit.

Here is our pick of the 5 unmissable bookstores in Amsterdam.

1. Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum

Spui 14-16  Amsterdam 1012 XA

Courtesy of Athenaeum Boekhandel & Nieuwscentrum Facebook page

This first bookstore stocks some of the best international magazines and quarterlies and any other of your favourite magazines.

The bookshop has some of the trendiest bookstore staff and best believe you will find your favourite fashion magazine at this store.

The store is located along Spui square and is stocked with the latest book releases and journals in English.

Its newsstand is one of the most frequented stands in the city because of the range copies of newspaper and magazines available.

The store also sells academic-related books ranging from history, philosophy, languages and art.

One can also find international copies written in any of the European languages and is one of the most relied bookstores for university course books in Amsterdam.

This store has been in operation for more than fifty years, having opened its doors in the sixties.

Other than its massive selection of magazines and academic books, there is a huge range of non-fiction books.

2. Scheltema Bookstore

Rokin 9, 1012 KK Amsterdam

Photo by Ugur Akdemir on Unsplash

Second, on the list is the Scheltema bookstore which is one of the largest bookstores in the Netherlands and also in Europe.

This vast bookstore is set on a five-storey building located at Rokin near Dam Square and has over 120,000 books and other literary materials.

Scheltema bookstore has been in operation since 1853 when it was founded.

One can find new books and also used books that are still in pristine condition. The store has one of the largest collections of English-language books in the city.

This store attracts some of the best Dutch authors in the country through its frequent literary events held at the bookstore.

The store has gone through tough financial times but withstood it all to be one of the first places one drops by in search of their next read or a newly released book in either German or English language in Amsterdam.

There is a coffee shop on the first floor of the building to relax, catch up or read your newly acquired book.

3. American Book Centre

Spui 12, 1012 XA Amsterdam

courtesy of ABC Facebook page

The American Book centre also is known as ABC was started by two Americans as a bargain bookshop in Amsterdam back in 1972.

It was located along the Kalverstraat shopping street since its establishment until 2006 when it was moved to its current home at the beautiful Spui square.

ABC is a family run business that has been independent since its founding and is set on a three-storey building stocked with a large selection of both American and British works.

It is also among the well-stocked bookstores with English language books in Amsterdam and the continent.

This store is more than a bookshop, they host frequent interactive literary events in Dutch and English and there is also the famous ABC reading bingo.

There is also a wide selection of travel, comic, games, and fantasy books available.

The mystery book section of the bookstore is a favourite of many that visit the store.

The store has adopted this interesting culture of getting readers to read books that may not be of their regular genre.

The books in this section are completely sealed and a small note is placed on the shiny package with a brief on what the content is about. Once convinced with a brief one can buy the book and find out more at home or one of the cafés nearby.

4. International Bookshop the Fort of Sjakoo – Amsterdam

Jodenbreestraat 24, 1011 NK Amsterdam

Next on the list is the international Bookshop the fort of Sjakoo. This bookshop sells independent works from both authors and publishers. It is located in the heart of Amsterdam.

There is a huge selection of both Dutch and English books available. It has been independent since 1977 when it was opened albeit opposition for such books being available to the public.

The store was legalized eleven years later and continued selling books dedicated to their cause on libertarian.

The store is run by a group of ten volunteers. If you are interested in Dutch history, politics, and social-critical topics, this is the store to visit while in Amsterdam.

They also sell a wide range of foreign publications, music, magazines and journals.

5. Waterstones Bookshop, Amsterdam

Kalverstraat 152, 1012 XE Amsterdam

Courtesy of Waterstones Booksellers Facebook Page

Last on the list is the Waterstones bookshop that specializes in English language books in the Netherlands.

The feel inside this bookstore brings about an old library vibe to it. The knowledgeable staff are friendly ready to help and have helpful tips on suggested genres.

This bookshop is housed in a classic building designed by the Dutch architect H.P. Berlage.

The store also sells greeting cards, stationery, toys, games, magazines, newspapers and British snacks.

One can also find second-hand books in good condition in the Dutch and English language, a variety of children’s books, lifestyle books on living in the Netherlands, fiction books in Dutch with English translations, DVDs and they assist in ordering books that are not available in the store at no extra charge.

The store has a classic fiction book group for its regular patrons.

The ultimate mission of Waterstones bookshop is that one’s visit to the store is pleasant and when one leaves, they walk out with a book that they love and will enjoy reading.