Have you ever clicked through a gallery of the most beautiful and best bookstores on earth? Gotten lost in photos featuring endless shelves filled with shiny volumes of tantalizing prose? You’re not alone. Compilations of fabulous bookshops can be found all over the Internet, featuring old-fashioned woodwork, high-tech chrome and plastic, even minimalist plaster.
Some of the best bookstores shine due to their variety of product, like The Strand in New York City; others due to their sensational locations, like Libraria Acqua Alta in Venice. Whatever your dream of a bookstore is, there’s something akin to it out there in the world.
It doesn’t matter if your book has nothing to do with a bookstore—you can still consider setting your book trailer in one, or using one or more fantastic bookstores as part of your trailer. Maybe you could have your book swoop from a shelf into a reader’s hands, or be stacked in a virtual bookshop window? Film 14 can help you with ideas and techniques for all kinds of bookstore trailers, and perhaps one or more of these dreamy places will inspire your own ideas, too:
1. El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina
A one-hundred-year-old theater converted into a bookstore/café, El Ateneo may be the most stunning setting you could imagine, with its bookshelves on mezzanine, parterre, balcony and the dramatic lighting. The perfect place for a chase through levels, or for your novel to “star” on the stage with its thick velvet curtains.
2. Selexyz Dominicanen, Maastricht, The Netherlands
If you’re jonesing for a Gothic vibe, consider including this iconic bookshop, converted in 2005 from a 13th-century Dutch cathedral. Your book might “fly” through its flying buttresses, or emerge from behind a medieval pillar.
3. Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal
A crimson staircase. A stained-glass skylight. Seemingly miles of polished walnut woodwork. If you’re looking for a romantic setting, look no further; Porto’s Livraria Lello was designed and constructed by a certified bookworm, Xavier Esteves, in 1906. He incorporated medieval, Gothic, and many other motifs in constructing a book palace that continues to delight.
4. The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, California, USA
To access mysteries and thrillers, you enter a vintage bank vault (the entire building is an old bank). What could be more noir? Styled as an “independent alternative,” The Last Bookstore carries new, used, and collectible books; CDs, records, and DVDs; magazines, art, and gift items.
5. Bookàbar, Rome, Italy
For modernists and minimalists, Rome’s Bookàbar offers a breath of fresh air during visits to that city’s Centro Storico. Firouz Galdo designed the all-white, open interior to showcase beautiful book jackets. Also its three floors encompass 10,000 meters and include an auditorium, a forum, and even a cinema.
6. Bookworm, Beijing, China
The coffee’s always hot, and the chocolate cake “voluptuous”—welcome to a large, vibrant bookstore that manages to cater to both local and expatriate populations. Until recently there were three locations of Bookworm, and who knows? Maybe after the novel coronavirus has been tamped down, there will be three or more again.
7. Jazzhole Bookstore, Lagos, Nigeria
As much a music hangout as a bookstore, the Jazzhole has real cultural significance beyond its locale—globally known authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Teju Cole have mentioned it in their novels. The owner, one Mr. Tejuoso, founded his eclectic spot to introduce expats to Nigerian and African music (his mother founded the country’s Glendora books chain). Don’t miss the small café in back.
8. Books for Cooks, Melbourne, Australia
While the name says it all, even the name can’t say everything about the 40,000 titles stocked in this small and smart Australian gem. The owners and staff are all keen bibliophiles and keener cooks who can guide you whether you’re searching for hipster kombucha recipes or Tudor spice mixtures.
9. The Academic Bookstore, Helsinki, Finland
All of the stores on this list have been designed by big names, but the biggest of those names, Alvar Aalto, finds us in Nordic-but-not-Scandinavian Finland. On Helsinki’s busiest shopping thoroughfare is the large, beautiful Academic Bookstore, filled with every kind of new book a reader could desire—plus a wonderful café.
10. The Strand, Manhattan, New York, USA
Eighteen Miles of Books—they mean on the shelves, not necessarily the floor space! However, you can still get a good day’s walk in at The Strand, which has survived so many bookselling vicissitudes and emerged at the top of Gotham’s bookworm-tourism list. Don’t miss a visit to the Rare Book Room!
11. Shakespeare & Co., Paris, Frances
Everyone visits. Some visitors even sleep in the most famous English-language bookstore in France. Begun by Englishwoman Sylvia Beach, friend to myriad Jazz Age writers and musicians, the store continues to charm with its bohemian atmosphere and stacks and stacks of books of every sort.
12. Stanfords, London, England
The elegant façade of Stanfords alone makes it trailer worthy. However, its purpose makes it special: The store specializes in travel books, from guides to journals and more. Come for the books, but stay for the maps, globes, and maritime charts; it’s even provided some of the latter for James Bond films.
13. Daikanyama T-Site, Tokyo, Japan
Japan’s major city offers many fabulous bookstores. What sets Daikanyama T-Site apart is its focus on Japanese principles of inside to outside and peace to busy thought. The hip, boutique-filled Daikanyama neighborhood hosts the Spartan T-Site complex that wraps books and art around a quiet, plant-filled courtyard.
14. Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy
Nautical enthusiasts won’t be able to resist this higgledy-piggledy shop in La Serenissima with a book-filled Venetian gondola set at its center. Other water vessels, including a canoe and a bathtub, overflow with books being protected from the “high water” (the translation of “acqua alta”) that threatens the city each year.
15. Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore, Chongqing, China
Even if there were no books on its shelves, the Escher-like interconnecting design of those shelves would attract many eyes. Furthermore, once you’ve glimpsed it, you’ll be longing to visit and see what catches your eye as you walk up and down the stairs. You can then cozy up in a reading nook beneath a pillar of more bookshelves.
If you enjoyed this post about the best bookstores check out: The Top 5 Alt-History Books on Earth, and their Book Trailers.