With the internet taking over the retail market and stores closing left and right, things can sometimes seem a bit grim for brick and mortar booksellers.
Why leave the comfort of your couch when you can just click a few buttons and have a book delivered to your door? Well, few things are more enjoyable than loitering in a bookstore, flipping through best sellers and discovering new favorite books.
We have compiled a list of bookstores and libraries with great ambience as well as amazing architecture and design.
700-year-old church converted into modern bookstore
The 13th-century structure in the center of Maastricht was a Dominican church until Napoleon’s invasion in 1794.
Since then it has been used as an abbatoir, boxing venue, indoor bicycle parking and carnival party location until it was converted into a contemporary bookstore in 2006. The faded ceiling paintings from around 1619 are extraordinary and of great historical value.
Dominicanerkerkstraat 1, 6211 CZ Maastricht
Passion for books since 1887
One of the oldest still existing stores in Baarn is located in a beautiful Art Nouveau building. Eventhough the store has kept up with the times, it is still famous for its traditional ambience, personal advice and book signing sessions.
Boekhandel Den Boer
Laanstraat 67-69, 3743 BC Baarn
Cozy armchairs and Tilburg’s best coffee
Gianotten Mutsaers has been selling books since 1947. Their cozy cafe serves drinks, cakes and grilled cheese sandwiches, all purchased from local food suppliers.
Emmapassage 17, 5038 XA Tilburg
“A place isn’t a place until it has a bookstore”
Hidden gem inside Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum
The marvelous Cuypers Library, part of the Rijksmuseum, is the largest public art history research library in the Netherlands. Since 1885 books, catalogues and annual reports relating to the Rijksmuseum have been collected without interruption.
Rijksmuseum visitors, students and art historians are welcome to study in the beautifully restored reading room.
Rijksmuseum Research Library
Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam
A mountain worth the climb
Spijkenisse’s public library De Boekenberg (‘Book Mountain’) was designed by the same architect who created the iconic Markthal in Rotterdam. The award-winning glass structure in the center of Spijkenisse also hosts exhibitions, workshops and lectures.
From the outside you can look straight into the Boekenberg (1,006 windows) and visitors can enjoy great views of the market square and old church.
Throughout the library you can see innovative bookshelves and red bricks which are made from recycled flowerpots. Not only are they environmentally friendly, warmth-absorbing and sounds-absorbing but as well a reference to Spijkenisse’s rich agricultural past.
Markt 40, 3201 CZ Spijkenisse
Cute as a button children’s bookstore
In the coolest children’s bookstore in the Netherlands you can read books, watch movies, play games and there is a little mouse house with a doorbell. Villa Paagman hosts frequent live music events and after the show kids can try out the music instruments.
Frederik Hendriklaan 217, 2582 CB The Hague
New use for an old church
The Broederen Church in Zutphen displays remarkable similarities with the Dominican church in Maastricht. The 14th-century Broederen Church was heavily damaged during World War II. After the war the church was restored and in 1983 it became a public library.
Every day at 18.00 the church bell sounds for one minute to commemorate the victims of World War II.
Broederenkerkplein 2, 7201 JP Zutphen
“A book is a gift you can open again and again”
The largest bookstore in the Netherlands
Founded in 1912 by a City Council Member, Donner Books has been part of Rotterdam’s history for over a century.
After business expansions and relocations, the largest bookstore of the country is now housed in abandoned bank building. Some elements of the national monument are preserved, including a massive vault door and original lockers.
Coolsingel 119, 3012 AG Rotterdam
Flipping through best sellers and new discoveries next to the fireplace
All you need is a good book, a hot cocoa and a sofa near the fireplace. Riemer & Walinga has it all. As well as a piano, traditional wooden interior and staff members who are passioned about books.
De Boekverkoopers Riemer & Walinga
Stationsstraat 131, 3851 ND Ermelo
Surprisingly green bookstore in the urban heart of Amsterdam
The American Book Store was started by two Americans in 1971. The current 48-member staff represents more than 700 years of combined bookselling experience. The Amsterdam branche is located next to the Begijnhof entry, not far from Kalvertoren.
To give customers the feeling of a tree house a large tree trunk, originally from Osdorp, is placed on each of the three floors. The eco-friendly roof of the building is covered in grass.
The American Book Center
Spui 12, 1012 XA Amsterdam
One of the largest remaining independent bookstores
No large open space but cozy rooms with squeaky floors and chandeliers. Over the past 100 years five adjoining stores, each with an unique facade, were connected to create this enchanting independent bookstore. Also, the oldest wall of Haarlem can be viewed here.
H. de Vries Boeken
Gedempte Oude Gracht 27, 2011 GK Haarlem
“If I’m ever stranded, I hope it’s in a bookstore”
A wide range of cookbooks in the stained glass conservatory
Bek Boeken & Bijzonders might look like the next bookstore from the outside, but once you pass the threshold you will be swept off your feet by the Old English interior and gorgeous wallpapers. The children’s section features a playhouse, slide and wooden toys.
Bek, Boeken & Bijzonders
Hoogstraat 5, 5462 CW Veghel
Study inside a large cone
Books are secondary in the library of the technical university in Delft, or TU Delft for short. It is a hub of technical and scientific information and the iconic steel cone houses four floors of study spaces.
The green grass roof serves as natural insulation and is converted into a sledding hill in the winter.
Delft University of Technology Library
Prometheusplein 1, 2628 ZC Delft
Old meets news in stunning medieval church
The stunning medieval Broeren Church closed its doors for worshipping in 1983. Until 1988 it served as a venue for cultural events. After a major renovation the bookstore opened its doors in 2013. The retail floors on 3-tier structures are freestanding to ensure the preservation of the original features of the church.
Go on a guided tour of the church and the striking surroundings along the canal, ancient inland vessels and the city wall.
Waanders in de Broeren
Achter de Broeren 1-3, 8011 VA Zwolle