Today I’m hosting Kimi and sharing part three of her Amsterdam Bookshop Hop – enjoy!
Amsterdam Bookshop Hop – Part Three
Goedendag! And Welkom to the third and final instalment in my Amsterdam Bookshop Hop! Today, I am being kindly hosted by the wonderful Sarah. For anyone that doesn’t know, my name is Kimi, and I am a bookseller here in Manchester with an undying love for the city of Amsterdam. Should you wish to get to know me a little more, I’ve left some links at the bottom of this post.
So, if you’ve not seen the first two parts of this blog series, you may be wondering – what on Earth is a Bookshop Hop? It is trying to visit as many bookshops as possible during my last visit to Amsterdam! I’d suggest starting at Part One, which was hosted by the lovely Fiona, where I prattle on (a little bit too much, maybe) about how much I love Amsterdam, and why I decided to spend my most recent visit meandering around bookshops. Part Two was hosted by the delightful Lois, and then after this post I’ll be doing a bonus post on Katie’s blog, where I’ll be hauling the books I bought, as well as offloading some general bookish musings I had whilst out there.
So, before I get caught up in talking about how much I love Amsterdam (trust me, that would be an entire seven-post blog series all of it’s own), I’ll dive right into the last three bookshops that I visited in Amsterdam, as well as a couple that I tried to visit but were unfortunately closed (but that I hope to visit next time!)
Boekhandel Athenaeum – Spui 14-16
I have been meaning to visit Boekhandel Athenaeum for a while now. Situated on Spui, in the area I call the ‘Book Square’ (because in that small area there are several boekhandels – Waterstones, American Book Center, Athenaeum, and Records and Books to name a couple), I had walked past it lots, but never actually popped in. My partner and I decided to remedy that this time, and we popped in as soon as it opened on the Monday!
Athenaeum is a bright, open bookshop that is set over several different levels and departments. It is a bookshop made for exploring – popping up stairs and into little corners – and, like a lot of the bookshops in Amsterdam, had a great mix of Dutch and English books. I especially loved their YA section (of course!), and I was surprised to find what books are popular over there compared to over here – something that I will elaborate on in my post on Katie’s blog.
I had a quick chat with a couple of the booksellers as we came in, but kept it short and sweet as they had just opened, so were busy setting up for the day! A running theme I have noticed is just how happy Dutch booksellers are to speak to other booksellers – again, something I want to explore a little more on my next post.
Boekhandel het Martyrium – Van Baerlestraat 170-172
Although on my list of bookshops to visit, we originally didn’t think that we would have time to squeeze het Martyrium in, but as happy accident would have it, we took a different route to van Rossum, and ended up walking past, so of course Kayleigh and I took the time to pop in.
Het Martyrium is primarily a Dutch language bookshop, with the vast majority of the books sold being in Dutch. I was actually glad of this – I’d wanted to explore a bookshop that catered to the Dutch, not just tourists! It’s light, bright, and air-y, with a rather small kids and YA section. However, I did find that het Martyrium was probably the most impersonal of all of the bookshops I visited.
Kayleigh and I had a good explore, but we ended up leaving after about ten minutes – it’s quite small, and after a quick explore, we decided to head on to van Rossum.
The Book Exchange – Kloveniersburgwal 58
The Book Exchange seemed to have passed me by on my pre-trip research – I had not found mention of it. However, after we had explored de Boekenmarkt, Kayleigh asked if I fancied a visit as she had been meaning to pop in, and we weren’t too far away. Of course, I jumped at the chance.
The Book Exchange is a (mostly) English Language Used Bookshop, and is an absolute booklover haven. Snuggled into a little canal-side street in the red-light district, in a traditionally slim and tall Amsterdam building, it is packed floor to ceiling with books. Absolutely packed. I do not exaggerate – I don’t think they could squeeze another book into that shop. But oh, how wonderful it is to explore!
There are various different rooms – Fiction, non-fiction, sci-fi and fantasy – dotted about, and you have to clamour up the traditionally steep Dutch staircases to find them, but Kayleigh and I were in heaven. We knew we were in a place for us as soon as we saw the sign stating ‘Thousands of paperbacks upstairs’. Yes. Please.
We spent a very long time exploring this treasure cove, and then I spent even more time talking to the lovely bookseller on the front desk. We shared a lot of anecdotes about bookselling, as well as him filling me in on the history of bookshops in Amsterdam, and what has changed over the past few decades.
Once again, I felt so welcomed and at home in this place, and did not want to leave. It was with hesitance that Kayleigh and I dragged ourselves away!
And now, a quick mention to the three bookshops that were closed when we visited;
Records and Books – Nieuwzijds Voorburgwal 371
This is actually another store that was not on my radar, yet when we got off the tram at Spui to visit other bookshops… it was right there! Unfortunately, that was on a Monday, and it appears that Mondays are a day that a lot of bookshops are closed. One for next time!
De 9 Straatjes – ?
This one is an absolute mystery to me! We were walking down a side-street in the Jordaan, and suddenly there was an adorable Children’s Bookshop! Unfortunately, again, it was a Monday. Now, I am guessing with the name! The only signage was that in the window saying ‘de 9 Straatjess’, which means The 9 Streets. It references an area in the Jordaan, which is renowned for it’s boutiques and independent stores and galleries. However, I can find no record of this bookshop online. Nada. So on my next visit, I will track it down, and I will investigate!
Boekhandel Xantippe Ltd. – Prinsengracht 290
This one was on my list, but unfortunately closed both times we passed, so I have my fingers crossed that it will be open on my next visit!
So there we have it – the end of my three days exploring Amsterdam’s Bookshops! If you enjoyed these posts, then please do let me know. I’m planning on visiting Amsterdam again at the end of April, and there are many more bookshops to explore…
Once again, a huge thank you to Sarah for hosting my wafflings, as well as to Fi, Lois, and Katie for also getting involved! Stay tuned for my post on Katie’s blog!
When not waffling on other people’s blogs, I can be found podcasting about books with my bookish partner in crime over at A Tale of Two Booksellers. I can be found on Instagram at @coffeeeyesandblankstares (where I pretty much post exclusively about books and cats), and twitter at @kimiallover. You can also follow our podcast on social media: @ataleoftwobooksellers on Instagram, and @TwoBooksellers on Twitter.