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English-Language Bookstores in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam visitors on the hunt for vacation reads have plentiful options. Here are some of the top sources for English-language books in Amsterdam.

  • The American Book Center Amsterdam
    Spui 12
    1012 XA Amsterdam
    Tel.: +31 (0)20 625 5537
    Open Mon 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., Tues - Wed & Fri - Sat 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., Thu 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. - 6.30 p.m.

    This beautifully-appointed bookstore, situated on Het Spui - a mecca for book lovers in Amsterdam - boasts an enormous variety of books spread over four floors. Enthusiastic amateurs serve as buyers to ensure that each section is presided over by someone with passion and interest in their subject. The extensive and very non-Dutch business hours are a plus for out-of-town customers who aren't used to the typically Dutch closed-at-5-sharp practices.

  • The Book Exchange
    Kloveniersburgwal 58
    1012 CX Amsterdam
    Tel.: +31 (0)20 626 6266
    Open Mon - Sat 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sun 11.30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

    This one-man operation, established in 1978, is the city's best independent source for used books. The upper level is devoted to paperback fiction for that perfect vacation read, while the lower level is filled with more specialized sections such as Travel; the basement contains fantasy fiction but also veers towards more intellectual reads.

  • The English Bookshop
    Lauriergracht 71
    1016 Amsterdam
    Tel.: +31 (0)20 626 4230
    Open Tues - Sat 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

    This cozy bookshop on the corner of Lauriergracht and Hazenstraat, the beloved "10th Street" (a riff off the popular "9 Streets"), is also a expat community of sorts, with an active book club and a full calendar of events. New and used books are on offer; look out for recommendations hand-picked by both employees and book club members.

  • New English Book Store
    Kalverstraat 223
    1012 XC Amsterdam
    Tel.: +31 (0)20 624 9789
    Open Mon - Wed 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Thu 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri - Sat 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sun 10.30 a.m. - 7 p.m.

    While rather devoid of atmosphere, the New English Bookstore scores points for value and its convenient location. The bookstore specializes in publisher's overstocks - i.e., the books left over when the publisher overestimates the demand for a title - which it sells at rock-bottom prices, as much as 90% off. Located on the popular retail street Kalverstraat, it's worth a stop for passersby in search of cheap reads.

  • Waterstone's
    Kalverstraat 152
    1012 XE Amsterdam
    Tel.: +31 (0)20 638 3821
    Open Mon 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Tues - Wed & Fri 9.30 a.m. - 6.30 p.m., Thu 9.30 a.m - 9 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. - 6.30 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

    For British readers, Waterstones need no introduction, but for others, it's useful to note that this is the only branch of a chain of 300+ bookstores in Great Britain and Ireland. Its location on Kalverstraat and Het Spui puts it on the corner of the most bookish square in Amsterdam.
Several Dutch bookstores also stock an extensive selection of English-language books:
  • Athenaeum Boekhandel & Nieuwscentrum
    Spui 14-16
    1012 XA Amsterdam
    Tel.: +31 (0)20 514 1460 (bookstore); +31 (0)20 514 1470 (newstand)
    Bookstore (Boekhandel) is open Mon 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Tues - Wed & Sat 9.30 a.m. - 6 p.m., Thu 9.30 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri 9.30 a.m. - 6.30 p.m., Sat 9.30 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sun 12 - 5.30 p.m. The newsstand (Nieuwscentrum) is open Mon - Wed & Fri - Sat 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., Thu 8 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

    One of the more "bookish" bookstores in Amsterdam, Athenaeum is known for its intellectual titles and its place in the Amsterdam literary world. The bookstore, with its ties to Amsterdam's universities, has a vast selection of academic titles, while the adjacent newsstand is an excellent source for international newspapers and other periodicals.

  • Boekenmarkt aan Het Spui
    Het Spui
    1012 XA Amsterdam
    Open Fri 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

    While not technically a bookstore, this weekly rare and used book market is one of the forces responsible for Het Spui's reputation as a must-see destination for book lovers in Amsterdam. Some 25 booksellers peddle their wares on the leafy square, where visitors are liable to pick up the most spectacular finds.

  • selexyz scheltema
    Koningsplein 20
    1017 BB Amsterdam
    Tel.: +31 (0)20 523 1411
    Open Mon 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., Tues - Wed & Fri - Sat 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., Thu 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun 12 - 6 p.m.

    "selexyz scheltema" (lowercase letters intended) feels a lot like the Barnes & Noble of Amsterdam, with its wide selection of mainstream books and an in-house branch of one of the Netherlands' most widespread cafe chains, Bagels & Beans. Its five floors of books overlook the lively Koningsplein - which can also be seen via the TERENA Webcam Koningsplein, part of our list of Amsterdam web cams.

  • De Slegte
    Kalverstraat 48-52
    1012 PE Amsterdam
    Tel.: +31 (0)20 622 5933
    Open Mon 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Tues - Wed & Fri - Sat 9.30 a.m. - 6 p.m., Thu 9.30 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun 12 - 5 p.m.

    The name De Slegte, said aloud, sounds just like Dutch phrase for "The Bad", but it's easily one of the most likable bookstore chains in the Netherlands, with locations in every major city. Steep discounts on new books and a vast selection of second-hand books make it a paradise for cash-conscious bibliophiles.
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