10 of the world’s finest e book cities | Travel

Bellprat, Catalonia, Spain

In some ways, this small village is the best e book city. It is in an attractive rural setting in Catalonia’s Anoia area, but solely 90km from Barcelona. It has an interesting medieval centre and its inhabitants is keen about throwing open its doorways to book-loving guests. Bellprat can be the primary e book city in Catalonia (the second in Spain, after Urueña).

Photograph: Lucas Daglio and Guada Boocles

During the city’s primary pageant – on the primary weekend in June – a number of village homes are briefly was secondhand bookshops, to enhance the numerous stalls set out in a lined market. The books on sale are overwhelmingly in Catalan, nevertheless. As properly as selling the village, the e book city label is used for good causes: at a current pageant, there was a e book swap by which books could possibly be exchanged in return for donations to a meals financial institution. Other book-based occasions vary from conferences, spherical tables and readings to occasions run by unbiased regional publishers.

The atmospheric Cal Pinyota on Plaza Catalunya (on Airbnb) is a bookshop-hotel with bedrooms on numerous themes, together with the detective novel (with a particular nod to the area’s most well-known fictional detective, Pepe Carvalho), historic fiction, and travel. It additionally organises inventive writing workshops and themed literary weekends for households, with advised studying lists, treasure hunts and craft classes.

Book Towns book by Alex Johnson, front cover.

Book cities by Alex Johnson,
revealed by Frances Lincoln, £14.99

This could be very a lot a community-run e book city. From easy beginnings in 2008, when it was arrange by the L’Associacio d’Amics de Bellprat (Association of Friends of Bellprat), it now presents guests greater than 20,000 books on the market. This is spectacular given the inhabitants of the village is underneath 100.

The close by cities of Cervera, close to Lleida, and Montblanc close to Tarragona are additionally being developed as a part of the Viles del Llibre (Book Villages) venture to assist depressed areas construct a sustainable financial system. And there are plans to maintain the enlargement going, opening 4 extra e book cities earlier than 2020.

Fontenoy-la-Joûte, France

Fontenoy-la-Joûte, France

Photograph: Alamy

Before it grew to become a e book city Fontenoy-la-Joûte, 100km west of Strasbourg, had no reference to the literary world and certainly few e book companies of any variety. It arrange Les Amis du Livre, with the intention of selling studying and writing in 1994. The e book city was formally inaugurated two years later, because of the efforts of a small band of fanatics, together with France’s former agriculture minister, François Guillaume, and the village mayor, Jean-Marie Vanot.

Eighteen companies opened in April 1996, with bookshops planning to open at weekends and holidays, and extra continuously in the course of the summer season. Within 4 years the venture had renovated 24 buildings for brand new use. At its peak there have been 23 booksellers within the village and its first e book truthful, in September 1994, attracted round 11,000 guests, in addition to booksellers from France, Belgium and Luxembourg.

There are nonetheless 10 bookshops and a calligraphy studio – L’encre et l’Image on Rue Saint-Pierre – and Fontenoy attracts peripatetic artwork festivals corresponding to Apprentiss’ART, which in 2016 placed on a show of literary origami. It has additionally held an annual writing contest for the previous twenty years, with the successful entries revealed in a brief e book.

Browsing in one of the town’s secondhand bookshops. Fontenoy-la-Joûte, France.

Browsing in one of many city’s secondhand bookshops. Photograph: Alamy

An uncommon signpost within the village centre factors to different e book cities across the world, plus imaginary areas together with Atlantis and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fictional Pellucidar.

The oldest bookshop in Fontenoy is the marvellously named A la recherche du Livre Perdu (In search of the lost e book) on Rue Saint-Pierre. Also relationship again to 1996 is Le Chat Botté on Rue Division Leclerc, which has an enormous arched doorway and pure stone wall interiors.

L’Etable majors on comedian books, whereas Paragraphes and Nuit de Chine (each on Rue Division Leclerc) are good for youngsters’s books. La Forge 54’s focus is structure and esoteric topics, and Librairie Viollet’s is historical past and posters. La Porte Retrouvée, previously N’en faites pas un roman (Don’t write a novel about it), is powerful on science fiction and likewise has a wide selection of vinyl data.

Gold Cities, California, US

Booktown Books co-operative in Grass Valley, California, USA.

Booktown Books co-operative in Grass Valley

The Gold Cities Book Town in California was arrange in 1997 – once more impressed by a visit to Hay-on-Wye – largely by native e book folks Gary Stollery and John Hardy. It really lined two primary areas, Grass Valley and (4 miles to the north) Nevada City, with satellite tv for pc sellers in close by Penn Valley, North San Juan and Lake of the Pines, and at its peak had greater than 30 bookshops.

Despite this promising begin, and the launch of an annual Gold Rush Book Fair, bookshop numbers have declined. However, in Nevada City, Stollery nonetheless runs a bookshop, Toad Hall Books (North Pine Street), together with his spouse Clarinda, whereas Hardy Books, open by appointment solely, nonetheless specialises in western Americana and all issues Californian, a lot of which isn’t included in its on-line stock.

Jenny’s Paper & Ink Books (on Joerschke Drive in close by Grass Valley) presents preowned delights, and on the different finish of city is Booktown Books, a co-operative established by a bunch of sellers in 1998. The venture has step by step expanded, and since 2005 has operated from a considerable two-storey constructing. Each bookseller has their very own sales space: Bud Plant and Hutchison Books, for instance, concentrate on nice illustrated and youngsters’s books in Booths eight and 10. Main Street Antiques & Books has a sales space right here, in addition to a store in Nevada City.

Round the nook from Jenny’s The Open Book was established in 1994, initially as Tomes Bookstore. Since 2015 it has been run alongside collective traces, with volunteers working common shifts and organising night occasions. Volunteer privileges embody limitless e book borrowing. The Open Book can be home to unbiased writer The Open Book Press.

Lilleputthammer, Norway

Children lie on their backs reading comics amid the quarter-size houses of the adventure park in Lilleputthamer, Norway.

Photograph: Lekeland

All e book cities promote youngsters’s books, and a few booksellers focus totally on titles for younger folks, however there is just one youngsters’s e book city – Lilleputthammer in Norway. Lilleputthammer is a small journey park for households. The primary part is a miniature copy of the primary road within the metropolis of Lillehammer, Storgata, with all the homes constructed as they appeared within the 1930s however at 1 / 4 dimension. There are greater than 40 retailers, two accommodations, three cafes, two bakeries, a police station and a cinema. Within that is the Children’s City of Books – six homes devoted totally to books.

“We have about 15,000 books in different genres, all for children,” says Cathrine Wilhelmsen, its deputy supervisor. “The books are divided into different houses according to the ages of the readers and then again into categories such as animals, fairytales, environmental protection, cowboys, crime, nature and outdoor living. The houses are When Mum and Dad Were Young (books written between 1900 and 1970), Picture Book House, Youth Literature, Mysteries and Crime, The Comics House, and The House of Facts. We also have a bookshop with new books, stationery, art and fun stuff.”

Biblo Tøyen, Oslo

Tuk-tuk at Biblo Tøyen, Oslo, Norway.

Tuk-tuk at Biblo Tøyen. Photograph: Marco Heyda

This children-only library is geared toward 10-15 yr olds; adults should not allowed in and should wait outdoors for his or her offspring to emerge. The library is run alongside regular traces, with library playing cards for borrowing books, and caters significantly for youngsters. after the varsity day is over.

The format and decor are something however regular, although. After consulting younger readers in focus teams, the designers have put in a Volvo truck with a useful kitchen within the again (the library additionally runs actions together with cookery programs) and a studying couch underneath the bonnet. Library customers may also get pleasure from their books in a ski-lift gondola hanging from the ceiling, a transformed tuk-tuk, a barber’s chair, or quite a few wheelbarrows. Books are organized by themes, which suggests no e book has a hard and fast location. At night time, a devoted e book drone flies across the library to scan and replace the books’ positions.

Montereggio, Italy

A street book stall in the town of Montereggio, Italy

A road e book stall in the course of the city’s e book pageant. Photograph: Associazione Le Maestà di Montereggio

The historical past of bookselling within the hilltop village of Montereggio in Tuscany goes again centuries. Indeed, the primary printing press was operated within the city by Jacopo da Fivizzano in 1471 and the primary bookshop was opened there within the late 1490s. Over the subsequent 100 years, native residents – typically whole households – started to function as itinerant booksellers, toting big wicker baskets of books across the gala’s and markets of central and northern Italy.

This village of simply 50 inhabitants hosts a e book truthful each August and a prestigious e book award, the Silent Book Contest

The work of households such because the Bertoni, Fogola, Ghelfi, Giovannacci, Maucci, Lazzarelli, Lorenzelli, Rinfreschi, and Tarantola is remembered within the many streets named after them all through the city. In 1952, Montereggio hosted the inaugural Premio Bancarella, Italy’s main literary prize.

As properly as books, the roaming salesmen and ladies additionally bought knives and different instruments from their baskets. As the quantity and weight of the books elevated, the sellers turned to utilizing carts pulled by hand or horse. Today, this historical past and the city’s ongoing e book actions are supervised by the volunteers of Le Maestà di Montereggio, based in 2013.

By the time of Italian unification, intellectuals and richer members of society grew to become significantly good clients, taken with banned books the ambulant booksellers had been capable of convey over the border from different international locations. “The most requested books were those written by Mazzini, D’Azzeglio, Cattaneo, Rossetti, Pellico and Balbo, but also erotic and romantic novels and books by Macchiavelli and Voltaire,” says Giacomo.

Today, this village of simply 50 inhabitants hosts an enormous e book truthful each August and a prestigious illustrated e book award, the Silent Book Contest. In addition to the a number of bookshops there are additionally many honesty retailers, with piles of books organized in niches and on tables round Montereggio.

Óbidos, Portugal

Street scene in Óbidos, Portugal.

Photograph: Alamy

Óbidos is an attractive, historic hilltop city with a wall that encloses a compact medieval centre full of cobbled streets and conventional homes. The city – simply over an hour north of Lisbon – was beforehand best-known for its annual chocolate pageant and because the home of the cherry-based liqueur, ginjinha. Then José Pinho, proprietor of Lisbon bookshop Ler Devagar (Read Slowly), had the thought to alter Óbidos right into a e book city.

Óbidos stands out from most different e book cities in that it didn’t open new bookshops; many shops have merely added bookselling to their business. So, the native artwork galleries promote artwork books, the Óbidos natural market has cabinets of cookbooks behind its contemporary fruit and greens, and the museums stock historical past, inside design and heritage titles, in response to their particular person focus.

The Literary Man lodge on Rua Dom João de Ornelas (doubles from €85 room solely) is run by the city’s former mayor, Telmo Faria, and has merged lodging and literature significantly properly. Around 50,000 books are on the market, unfold across the 30-bedroom property. Some books are in Portuguese however most in English, with an emphasis on Penguin, Pelican and Pan Books.

The Literary Man hotel, home to 30 guestrooms – and 50,000 books. Obidos, Portugal.

The Literary Man lodge, home to 30 guestrooms – and 50,000 books. Photograph: Francisco Manuel Mendes

One of probably the most beautiful bookshops is the Grande Livraria de Santiago, contained in the city’s 13th-century church subsequent to Óbidos citadel. Books in numerous languages crowd are piled on former altars, and bookshelves have changed pews. O Bichinho do Conto (Estrada dos Casais Brancos) is the nation’s first bookshop dedicated to youngsters’s titles, and is in a former main faculty.

Óbidos hosts a significant worldwide literary pageant, Folio, attracting extremely regarded authors corresponding to Salman Rushdie and VS Naipaul and that includes studying marathons, live shows and screenings. Other tasks embody a scheme for turning deserted homes into live-work areas for writers, artists and different inventive entrepreneurs.

The oldest bookshop within the world
According to Guinness World Records, Livraria Bertrand in Lisbon is the world’s oldest bookshop nonetheless in operation. It was established in 1732 (although it moved in 1755 after earthquake harm, earlier than returning to Rua Garrett within the Chiado space) by Peter Faure, and have become an necessary hangout for intellectuals and writers. Pierre Bertrand joined Faure in 1742 and likewise married his daughter, taking up (and renaming the store) together with his brother Jean Joseph when Faure died in 1753. An enlargement programme began within the 1960s and it now operates a series of greater than 50 bookshops across the nation.

Paju, South Korea

Forest of Wisdom library, Paju Book City, Paju, Gyeonggi, South Korea.

Forest of Wisdom library. Photograph: Getty Images/Topic Images

Paju Book City stands alone amongst members of the International Organisation of Book Towns in that whereas it has bookshops, e book cafes and publishers, it has nothing else. Every single constructing and individual right here is devoted to creating, publishing, promoting and selling Korean books.

It can be in probably the most unlikely setting of any e book city: a reclaimed marshy flood plain close to the Demilitarized Zone, simply half a dozen miles from the border with North Korea. Indeed, its location was a guideline by the founding publishers, who needed to stress the significance of the frequent good above self-interest. While at its coronary heart was a dedication to print, the plan was to construct someplace as an antidote to the perceived over-development of Seoul.

Since 1989, main worldwide architects and designers have been turning Paju into a singular web site. There is a standard Korean hanok home at its centre, an emblem of the aim to make sure Paju is in concord with its environment. It has been criticised as a barely sterile industrial park however others have applauded its quiet, tree-lined, largely traffic-free streets dotted with picket benches, and its uncommon options, such because the miniature railway which runs across the youngsters’s bookshop Alice’s House.

Mimesis Art Museum,Paju Book City, Paju, Gyeonggi, South Korea.

Mimesis artwork museum in Paju. Photograph: Getty Images/Topic Images

There are e book cafes in every single place, together with the favored Hesse on the third flooring of the Pinocchio Museum (Hoedong-gil). The huge Book House Foresta (Heyri) is a cultural arts advanced on three flooring the place browsers can sip house-roasted espresso towards a backdrop of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

It was the brainchild of writer Yi Ki-Ung however is now owned by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Today there are round 250 publishers primarily based in Paju and 10,000 folks working right here (few stay right here and most commute in, some in particular buses owned by publishers). It is split into three zones: a publishing district, a printing district and a assist district. Books (principally Korean however some in English and Japanese) are bought from the ground-floor premises of assorted publishing corporations in addition to in bookshops. Along with its annual Booksori e book pageant, which attracts as much as half one million guests to a week-and-a-half of occasions, there are the Paju e book awards for Asian writers, editors and designers for selling the area’s tradition.

The Forest of Wisdom (Hoedong-gil) has eight-metre-high cabinets and a group of 50,000 donated books, many supplied free by teachers and different specialists. Volunteer advisers assist readers search the stacks, and there may be additionally an on-site lodge, so guests can learn books 24 hours a day. Lectures and e book golf equipment are run all year long, and in May Paju hosts a youngsters’s e book pageant.

Torup, Denmark

Sustainable eco homes in Torup eco village, Denmark.The ecohouses have a turf roof and are partially buried to conserve heat.

Sustainable eco houses in Torup eco village. Photograph: Eco Images/Getty Images

Torup is uncommon even for a e book city. There are two elements to the Danish group of round 300 residents: the previous half (a village because the 11th century); and a brand new zone that, because the 1990s, has been home to an eco-village known as Økosamfundet Dyssekilde.

The authentic thought behind Økosamfundet Dyssekilde was to create a vegetarian, religious and humane village, although the main focus is now extra on a shared basis of values than a single thought. The village is split into six semi-autonomous teams who are chargeable for the outside space between the houses and who handle their very own budgets and social occasions.

University lecturer and resident Peter Plant, now the e book city’s chairman, heard a radio programme about Fjærland, a e book city in Norway and believed it will be a great match for Torup. There was then a go to to Tvedestrand, additionally in Norway, and Torup bogby (Danish for e book city) was arrange in 2006, with 2,000 folks attending its first summer season pageant.

Covered book wagon by the roadside in Torup, Denmark

Book wagon in Torup. Photograph: Rolf Plant

Five e book wagons – carts on wheels with canopies – had been arrange in 2007 to sit down at roadsides for self-service use and these had been joined by a e book cafe in a greenhouse on the well being meals retailer Taraxacum. A yr later the village held its first workshop for aspiring writers. There at the moment are a dozen e book carts and locations to purchase books round city.

In 2010 Torup grew to become a member of the International Organisation of Book Towns and in 2011 the restored former railway station, relationship from 1916, grew to become the e book city’s headquarters. There is now a bookstore on the bottom flooring in addition to native meals on the market and a bicycle rental station.

Visitors will discover mini bookshops in garages, a workman’s hut, a disused steady, a farm entrance, in entrance of the church and by the doorway to the grocery store. There are loads of ingenious shelving concepts too: books stacked in bread packing containers and milk crates. Some function on a self-service honesty foundation. The affiliation additionally runs a yearly Nordic Book Festival, with talks and readings from established authors, together with stay music.

Bredevoort, Netherlands

The historical village of Bredevoort, the Netherlands.

The historic village of Bredevoort.

Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Bredevoort is within the Netherlands’ Aalten area, near the border with Germany. It grew to become a e book city in 2003 and at its peak had round 30 bookshops and book-related companies. It was a founding member of the International Organisation of Book Towns. Today there are simply half of that quantity.

Local historian and trainer Henk Ruessink was instrumental in getting the e book city off the bottom, following a significant restoration of Bredevoort’s medieval centre. Inspired by a visit to Hay-on-Wye, and with the backing of native authorities, he contacted a whole bunch of booksellers in Germany and the Netherlands and held a particular open day to promote the idea.

As properly as their basic stock, many of the bookshops additionally specialise. The English Bookshop in historical past, English literature and illustrated books; Scrinium in Greek and Latin; The Old Motor Bookshop in automotive and tractor books and Boek en Zo in arithmetic, physics, chemistry, astronomy, drugs and biology.

Bookshop in Bredevoort, the Netherlands.

Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The city additionally has quite a few honesty bookshops. Among them is one outdoors Horus Huiskamertheatertje, on Hozenstraat, which claims to be the smallest theatre within the Netherlands (it seats 14) and places on reveals by storytellers, poets and musicians. Chartae Laudes, on Koppelstraat (open on the third Saturday afternoon within the month and by appointment), additionally supplies book-related companies together with restoration, bookbinding and handmade ornamental papers.

Every third Saturday there’s a e book market within the tree-lined ‘t Zand Square, with bookbinding demonstrations. There is also a tradition of book fairs in May and August, which attract dealers from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, and another at Easter for discounted books. Bredevoort is also home to the thriving Boekencafé, run from the town’s former Koppelkerk church, now a cultural centre.

College Street, Kolkata

Man selling used books at the largest second-hand book market in the world on College Street in Kolkata, India.

Photograph: StreetMuse/Getty Images

Towards the top of the 18th century, Kolkata grew to become a significant printing centre, because of the East India Company, which constructed up the trade for business causes. It has retained that pedigree, and the International Kolkata Book Fair, established in 1976, is now the world’s largest e book truthful for most of the people.

Though not an precise city, College Street, within the northern, older a part of town has turned itself right into a haven of bookselling. Known regionally as Boi Para (Colony of Books), it’s considered the biggest secondhand e book market within the world. Around 1.5km lengthy, and operating from Mahatma Gandhi Road to Ganesh Chandra Avenue, it’s home to an extended stretch of road stalls, conventional bookshops, publishers, and academic establishments.

Some of the booksellers declare a household custom going again greater than 100 years. The stock is eclectic: particularly good for textbooks, it additionally shares fiction and non-fiction, pamphlets and different printed ephemera, largely in Indian languages (significantly Bengali) and English. Combined with the road’s busy, usually chaotic, character, it makes for a vibrant shopping expertise.

Among the bricks-and-mortar bookshops are the National Bookstore (reverse the Presidency University), Dasgupta & Co (College Street’s first bookstore, arrange in 1886) and Bani Library (a family-run business for 5 generations). One of probably the most well-known landmarks alongside College Street is the Indian Coffee House, reverse the Presidency University, a part of a series owned and run as co-operatives by its staff. Though not famous for its espresso, it does have an extended historical past as a gathering place for intellectuals, artists, and politicians, in addition to native college students.

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