Bookshops in Paris, France (new and used!)

I can’t believe I haven’t done a post on the English-language bookshops of Paris before!

I searched this blog (yes, I wrote all of it, but I’ve a mind like a sieve this days) and only came up with one post on Berkeley Books of Paris. So here’s a little list I’ve compiled:

Second-hand bookstores:

San Francisco Book Company
17 rue Monsieur le Prince
Paris, 75006
(near métro Odéon)

Excellent selection of literature, fiction, poetry, philosophy, history. They also have a very large selection of pocketbooks: literature, fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, etc.

Berkeley Books of Paris
8, rue Casimir Delavigne
Paris, 75006
(near métro Odéon)

Excellent selection of literature, fiction and poetry.

Tea & Tattered Pages
24 rue Mayet,
Paris 75006
(Métro Duroc)

You hear about this one constantly: it’s mentioned in every guide and tourist website. I went once, six years ago and was completely unimpressed. Not only were the books tattered, they were downright grubby. And it was all bestsellers and mainstream fiction. (Wow, do I ever sound like a snob!) I should go again and see what they’re like now.

New books:

Village Voice Bookshop
6, rue Princesse
Paris, 75006
(near métro Odéon)

Excellent selection of new, English-language books; primarily literature, fiction and poetry. Respectable selection of history, philosophy, art, psychology, etc. The owner, Odile Hellier, tells a moving story on this page about the history of the shop.

224, rue de Rivoli
Paris, 75001
(Métro Tuileries)

A very good selection of literature, fiction, poetry, history, philosophy, art books, politics, Paris guides… “Best Atmosphere” award. Lovely shelves. When you get to the literature section in the back, look up! (Especially nice on a rainy day.) And peek through the glass door into the little office just before the philosophy section — I want to move in there.

[Also, don’t miss their website! There’s a nice little intro, then when you click on Enter you get a little film of the interior. Turn up your speaker volume. It’s a love song to books. The camera caresses the hardwood shelves, reels from the overwhelming selection. As the string section builds, I feel a swoon coming on. I tear up, it is… too much. I must lie in a darkened room for the rest of the afternoon with a cool handkerchief on my forehead. (And I’ve been there a hundred times.) Try not to drool on the keyboard. To the right of the movie is a fascinating history of the shop. Now that’s a pedigree.]

Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore
22, rue St Paul
Paris, 75004
(métro St Paul)

I haven’t been there in years, but I seem to remember they had a good selection.

W.H. Smith
248, rue de Rivoli
Paris, 75001
(métro Concorde)

I am including them for the sake of thoroughness, but not because I like them. It’s a chain bookshop, the staff are usually quite rude and their prices are frequently higher than any of the other new-books bookshops. They are, of course, more mainstream. Their literature section is an embarrassment (for us and them); and to insult further, they keep shuffling the section around the shop to make way for Christmas cards or a monster display of dieting books. Anyhow, I have to admit they do have a larger non-fiction than most and their magazine selection can’t be beat. They even have the National Enquirer for around nine euros. I can’t believe anyone bothered.

Added 7 hours later…

Both new and used books:

The Abbey Bookshop
29, rue de la Parcheminerie
75005 Paris

I haven’t been to this one in ages. All I remember is that it’s a mix of new and used and that the owner is Canadian. So, if you’re desperate for a copy of Canada’s version of the New York Times — known affectionately to its employees as “The Mop and Pail” and to the public at large as “The Globe and Mail” — this is the place for you.

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5 Responses to “Bookshops in Paris, France (new and used!)”

  1. Rob
    May 5th, 2008 08:32

    Thank you! The only one I’ve been to is the Red Wheelbarrow. Is that W. H. Smith the same chain that exists in the UK? I tried to buy a copy of the Times Literary Supplement in the Southampton branch once. The man told me they didn’t stock it, but tried to sell me the Educational Supplement instead. Because litriture, edyoocation, it’s all the same, innit?

  2. blastedmembers.com
    May 13th, 2008 20:05

    Well, you have to admit, they both have words in them. Quite a few of the same ones, in fact. Just mixed together differently. Using a pair of scissors and some tape you could rearrange them yourself however you like. Sounds like you were just being difficult.

    Yes, it’s the same W.H. Smith! The evil chain store that’s part of the Chapters/Coles mega-corporation of evilness. The last city I lived in in Canada had a bit of a reputation for its wide variety of independent bookshops.

    Two enormous Chapters stores moved in and within one year most of those independents were gone, within five, all were gone. I left.

    (Okay, for a lot of reasons, but I’ll bet they were probably related to the fact that the local population were the kind of people that would abandon the small shops.)

  3. Rob
    May 14th, 2008 11:45

    I’m beginning to suspect that every population is the kind that will abandon a small shop in exchange for freshly painted bookcases and a muffin counter. The only difference is that some populations feel guilty about it, and talk about how they should really go back there at some stage. Then, when the little shops close down, they just say things like, “Yes, well…their customer service was never that great anyway.”

  4. Luanna Bicknell
    May 19th, 2008 10:02

    Great Blog !!

    I am travelling to Paris on Friday for the weekend from Budapest. I would like to buy some second hand childrens books for my children can you point me in the right direction ?

    We are English but our children go the Lycee in Budpaest and I am spending a small fortune on delivery charges with Amazon.fr !!!


  5. blastedmembers.com
    May 23rd, 2008 22:33

    Thanks for the compliment!

    Ooops, today is Friday. I really need to quit my jobs so I have more time for books and this blog.

    I wouldn’t have been much help, though. I just have cats. I know W.H. Smith has a big kid’s section, but I really can’t remember seeing a section for kids in any of the second-hand shops.

    I hope you manage to find some anyway and have a lovely weekend here!

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