Paul Sullivan rounds up some of the city’s best English (and some German) language bookstores…
Named as one of the top ten bookshops in the world by Lonely Planet, Kreuzberg’s Another Country is one of Berlin’s longest-running literary/intellectual salons for the English-speaking crowd. A good chunk of its 20,000-odd books are for loan, not sale (bring a book back and the purchase price is refunded, minus €1), while about ten percent of stock functions as a reference library, available only to read in-shop. The owners also run a second shop for events… Read more….
Riemannstraße 7, 10961 Berlin, T: 030 69401160
In January 2015, Bildband opened its doors at Immanuelkirchstrasse 33. The shop’s main emphasis is on photography with the front of the shop devoted entirely to photo books; a mix of classics, re-issued and new or contemporary titles as well as rare, out of print and sample books. Established favourites such as Vivian Maier and Robert Polidori are well represented as are works by emerging or less well-known talents.
A second room contains books on art, architecture and design. Bookseller Thomas Gust explains that new stock is arriving constantly and many of the books are discounted by 50-70%. The shop holds regular events such as book launches and monthly exhibitions, and presentations by the Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie also take place here.
Immanuelkirch Straße 33, 10405 Berlin; T: 030 4737 7014
This friendly and well-stocked Irish-run bookshop in Neukölln sells new and second-hand books across a range of genres that includes children’s books, LGBTQ+ interest and Irish interest, as well as an ever-growing range of books published by Berlin-based authors. The shop holds a number of events throughout the year including the monthly poetry event, “Isn’t Everything Poetry?”, a quiz night, Bloomsday celebrations and author-readings. Check their website for more info.
Founded by graphic designer Mark Kiessling and professional bookseller Jessica Reitz in 2009, the L-shaped space Do You Read Me!? stocks an international array of magazines as well as art books, coffee table tomes, lesser known periodicals, obscure zines and regular books, covering everything from art, culture and fashion to photography, design, architecture and politics. If you want to take a seat and glance through one of the journals in comfort you’re welcome to use one of the several white Eames chairs placed in the corners of the shop. Read More…
Auguststraße 28, 10117 Berlin, T: 030 6954 9695
Ebert und Weber is a lovely little store that stocks mostly books from small and independent publishers that have experienced such a boom here in the past decade, but are nearly completely unrepresented in shops. Best of all, the shelves are organized by publisher, which will help you make sense of their various programs and understand the titles in their context. These young publishers’ striking, innovative approach to cover design means that a trip to Ebert and Weber is also always a visual treat. A back room offers a small but intelligent English-language selection. Read more…
Falckensteinstr. 44, 10997 Berlin-Kreuzberg, T: 030-69 56 51 93
Originally called Buchexpress, English Books is found right next door to the English Institute of the Free University. Containing mostly new books, with around a third of the space devoted to second-hand, the intimate, characterful shop specialises educational books such as learning (and teaching) English, literary and linguistic theory and history, but also stocks a decent selection of general fiction and non-fiction and also children’s books. Owner Peter Michael Schuer was one of the store’s co-founders in 1977 and still works here, helping visitors out with advice and the store also offers English language courses.
Unter den Eichen 96, 12205 Berlin, T: 030 831 4004
Opened in 1929 by the eponymous Frau Schoeller, this West Berlin shop was once a focal point for West Berlin’s burgeoning literary scene, attracting esteemed international writers like Beckett, Hesse, Mann, Eliot, Auden and the members of Hans Werner Richter’s famed Gruppe 47. Though Schoeller passed away in ’78, her son and colleagues have continued her good work. The shop still sells mostly German-language books, but still maintains one of the best English book selections in Berlin, located in an alcove on the left as you enter. Read more…
Knesebeckstrasse 33, 10632 Berlin, T: 030 881 1112
Mundo Azul is a delightful Prenzlauer Berg store specialising in international children’s literature, mostly from small publishing houses from all over the world: German, Spanish, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, but also a small selection from countries like Korea, Iran, Poland, Russia, China, and Turkey. The shop also serves as a centre for activities related to intercultural awareness. Due to its unique selection of picture books from all over the world, Mundo Azul co-works with German and international schools, libraries, universities, festivals, book fairs and other cultural institutions.
Choriner Straße 49, 10435 Berlin, T: 030 49 85 38 34
Pequod stocks used books in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, Polish, Norwegian and Danish, along with a handful of books in other languages. The bright, orderly shop now has two rooms with over 12,000 books. The selection leans strongly toward traditional classics, in part because owner Álvaro Sendra González does not speak all of the languages he offers, but also because, an artist by trade, he is still learning about the book business, and is building his stock up from a solid foundation. In the spirit of our low-cost city, no book in the shop costs more than €6. Pequod will also buy used books, and you might even get to share the shop’s sofa with Pecorino, Alvaro’s book-loving cat. Read more…
Selchower Straße 33, 12049 Neukölln, 0152 55130374
This large and relatively new (2012) bookshop, with its oak-panelled interior, is the dream-child of local designer Martina Zeyen. The books are a mix of the old and the new, and there’s also comics, graphic novels and tomes on design and art. There’s an English selection too, but it’s not quite as well-curated as the German stuff. There are also talks and concerts, readings and films – and you can order online on the store’s homepage. Best of all is to visit though, especially as there’s a cosy in-store café where you can enjoy a coffee and baked goods.
Brunnenstraße 181 10119 Berlin, T: 030 9789 4592
Genre fans can draw up a seat and enjoy a glass of wine under the gaze of the inflatable dragons gracing the shelves in the backroom of Otherland, named for Tad Williams’s cyberpunk fantasy series. These two shops, just around the corner from each other, collaborate on events: crime and mystery authors, a mainstay of Hammett’s, sometimes read at the larger space at the sci-fi/fantasy-focused Otherland. Both keep a good stock of English books (around a third of the selection) and regularly host readings in English as well as role playing games. Recent readers include Cory Doctorow, Cixin Liu and S.A. Corey (Daniel Abrahams and Ty Franck) from the Expanse.
Otherland, Bergmannstraße 25, 10961 Berlin, T: 030 69505117
Hammett Krimibuchhandlung, Friesenstraaße 27, 10965 Berlin, T: 030 6915834
Just off the Rosa-Luxemburg Platz, this bright and spacious store has an overt design aesthetic, with its minimal interior, floods of natural light and artfully arranged clusters of books and magazines. The store aims to present a sophisticated mix of international books alongside magazines and periodicals on architecture, urbanism and art, design and cultural theory. Half of the stock is in English, and regular book launches and discussions are held.
Almstadtstraße 48-50, 10119 Berlin, T: 030 2472 8520
With around 30,000 books—80% of which are used—Saint George’s is one of the longest-serving and comprehensive English language bookshops in the city. Located in the near-Parisian Kollwitzkiez, the shop especially prides itself on its range of titles, and holds an impressive number of translations from German into English of the likes of Tucholsky, Sebald, Fallada and Thomas Mann. The philosophy collection is top notch, and new and used books can also be ordered as well as bought back. Read More…
Wörther Straße 27, 10405 Berlin, T: 030 81798333
Shakespeare & Sons’ roomy new premises on Warcshauer Strasse offers entire vast walls of books, from Eastern European literature in English (including lots of titles from noteworthy Prague-based Twisted Spoon Press), a sizeable French-language selection, a respectable graphic novel/comic book section, and a substantial philosophy collection. It’s also home to Fine Bagels, and plenty of seating where you can thumb through your new purchase a with a delicious cup of coffee, cake or bagel. Events, concerts and readings take place each month too.
Located right on the Museum Insel, this large, handsome store is one of the best of the locations set up by Cologne-based art publisher Walter König (most of the others are in museums). Fronted by generous windows the interior consists of several rooms offering shelf upon shelf of art history, architecture, photography, design and philosophy. There are also exhibition catalogues, coffee table books and some rarer publications too.
An der Museumsinsel, Burgstraße 27, 10178 Berli, T: 030 2576 0980